Selenis Leyva is currently right at the beginning stages of that experience. Her daughter Alina is 13, and just starting to show signs of that teenage rebellion all parents experience from their children sooner or later.
“When she comes home and I’m like, ‘Hi, honey!’ she grunts — like, there’s no conversations anymore,” says Leyva, 45, who’s known for playing Gloria Mendoza on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.
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“I feel like, ‘I’m a cool mom, I’m hip!’ and, no,” Leyva continues.
“One day you’re hip, and the next day it’s like, ‘Oh God, you’re so embarrassing. Could you drop me off at the corner?’ “
Every once in a while, Alina does still channel the childlike sweetness her mom loves — and Leyva adds that she is very much a “good kid” — but as new as being a teenager is for her daughter, the whole experience of being a mom to a teenager is just as unfamiliar to Leyva.
So how does Leyva navigate those uncharted waters? By reminding her daughter that she was a 13-year-old girl once, too.
“I always tell her, ‘Believe me, I was your age once. I know you can’t imagine it, but I was,’ ” she recounts, adding that a “magic word” for telling Alina “no” doesn’t exist anymore — that now they have to have real conversations for their communication to be effective, and even that doesn’t make their dynamic easy.
“We will not agree on everything, and that’s a new chapter that I’m in,” Leyva says. “How do we get to the other side without killing each other?!”
— Jen Juneau