We’re in the thick of kidhood around our house, with a 6 year old, a threenager and a newborn. And I often wonder how our household dynamics will change as the kids get older. So instead of just waiting and wondering for the next ten years, I thought I’d get real answers from someone who’s in the know.
Dana is a fellow Marylander, who shares stories about life and family over at the blog Kiss My List. She’s mother to a teenage daughter and son; and seems to have done so many things right because I never really hear her complain about them. Today she’s agreed to share the happy side of having teenagers. If you want to read more of her family’s adventures head on over to her blog Kiss My List (if you want to go to Europe, you NEED to check out her European vacation recap)
My babies haven’t been babies for a very long time.
I miss the feel of their chubby little hands, completely enveloped in my own. I miss being able to pick them up and comfort them, and I miss the weight of their small heads resting on my chest as they fall asleep.
Now my youngest’s hands are larger than mine, and he picks me up to show off his strength. But sometimes, when we are watching television together, he will rest his head on my shoulder. I don’t dare ruffle his hair for fear of destroying the moment; I just let it be.
Sometimes I look at my almost-grown children, and I wonder how we got here. I remember when the idea of raising teenagers terrified me. But a baby does not become a first grader overnight, and a first grader does not morph into a teenager while he’s sleeping. Parents grow alongside of their children, and each milestone achieved prepares us for facing the next one. A decade ago, I could not imagine parenting a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old, yet here I am. You will be too, eventually, and you will discover that you are ready. When you have a senior and a freshman in high school, your day may look a bit like mine.
My alarm goes off at the unreasonable hour of 6:00 a.m., and I’m out of bed by 6:10 to make sure both kids are up. Like me, they are awake, but barely moving.
By 6:30, we are all in the kitchen. I’m drinking my first cup of coffee and putting together the lunches that the kids made the night before. They each make their own breakfast, although I will fry an egg quickly if I’m asked politely.
By 7:00, the senior is backing out of the driveway with the freshman in the passenger seat. I reheat the coffee I didn’t get to finish, and check the Find my Friends app seven minutes later to make sure they have arrived at school safely.
Our high school permits phone use in between classes, so I usually text with at least one kid during the school day. The senior may share a good grade with me, but I don’t usually hear from the freshman unless he needs something he left at home. I will text to remind them to drink lots of water before practice, or just to say hi. This is the teenage version of notes in the lunch boxes.
In the fall, the afternoons are full of sports practices, but I’m no longer driving them all over creation. They stay at school, and the senior drives home. For one blissful year, my chauffeuring duties are on hold. Next year, she goes to college and I am back to shuttling around the freshman-turned sophomore for another two years.
Our family dinners are the highlight of my day. There is no whining, everyone cuts their own food, and there is not a chicken nugget or bagel bite in sight. We have discussions that range from deep to silly, and I marvel at the bright, witty, and insightful human beings I helped create and raise.
For years I dreaded homework time, but at this point I’m a minor player in the game. The senior does her own with little prompting, although I may be asked to proofread or edit a paper. The freshman is still easing into the rigors of high school, and I need to monitor him a bit more. Thankfully, homework no longer involves spelling words, glitter, or dioramas.
I am often the first person in bed, and the kids usually come to my room to say goodnight. If I’m lucky, they may even lay a not-so-little head on my chest for a moment or two.
While I miss some things about my kids being young, I focus on enjoying the cool parts of having teenagers.
I don’t have to watch mind-numbing cartoons or Disney Channel shows; we watch good television together. We are currently conquering all ten seasons of Friends – it’s a classic series, and I feel it is my duty as a mother to expose my children to comic excellence.
Teens are excellent sleepers. The lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings that I thought were gone forever have returned, and they are heavenly.
Grocery shopping and other errands are actually more enjoyable with at least one kid. Instead of hindering my progress with temper tantrums and pleas to buy things, they push the cart and scan the items at the self-checkout while I bag.
Date nights can be spontaneous, and I don’t have to find or pay a sitter. With Mom and Dad out of the house, they will happily veg on the couch all evening.
We can go anywhere on vacation; teenagers travel well and have tons of stamina. We have been in the Magic Kingdom until 1:00 a.m, hiked the Swiss Alps for hours, and braved the night tour of Alcatraz.
They are easy and fun to be with. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows, but the daily exhaustion that came with mothering young children is gone. Teenagers have one foot in childhood and one in adulthood, and when that isn’t causing a meltdown, it’s a lovely place to be. They still come to me for comfort, advice, pep talks, and hugs. I squeeze as tight as I can and never let go first.