When I imagined motherhood I envisioned chubby dimpled cheeks and toothless grins and that solid ‘thud, thud’ on a little onesied back and the crinkle sound of diapers and tender moments nursing in the quiet of the night. I’ve said on MULTIPLE occasions I would ALWAYS have a baby if I could. Show me a newborn and BAM…I’ve got Baby Fever.
Then as those babies grow it gets even better because little boys are ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS and so much fun!!! They make messes and giggle at fart sounds and catch frogs and dig for worms. They run and jump and climb and melt my heart with tender words like, “Don’t tell Dad but you’re my favorite.” And you know what?? Little boys are MY favorite.
But I have bigger kids now. One is officially a teenager and one is a hot-on-his-heels tween.
And I’m struggling a little in this department.
Suddenly these boys only want to sit like lumps and eat and stare at the TV playing Fortnite. They are annoyed by family activities together. They hate my music and have very little tolerance for their younger siblings. Nothing is fair. And when I tell my teen to put his phone away he says, “Why can’t we just be a normal family?” because I guess we are the ONLY parents to set limits.
They eat me out of house and home and leave a dirty ring around the bathtub and forget to pick up dirty laundry and wet towels EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.
They complain about chores. They complain about screen time limits. They complain about family outings, “Mom, can’t I just stay home?” They complain there is nothing to do. They complain it is too hot outside. They complain about just about everything these days.
Oh, and they stink.
I’m pretty sure no mom ever had Teenager Fever.
I’m mourning the loss of my babies. I’m mourning the loss of those fun and wild and hilarious and up for anything little boys.
Where did they go??? Remember how Isaiah played ‘piggies to market’ on Eli’s newborn toes at the hospital? Remember how they wanted mohawks that one summer? And how they were always shirtless and barefoot? Remember how adorable it was when each lost his two front teeth? And how Eli once brought 21 snails home in his pockets? Remember how much they LOVED their mommy????
I’m struggling with the constant push and pull. Responsibility and chores. Expectations and limits. Boundaries and consequences. I struggle with where I should concede??? Because along with all of these I want to honor their need for autonomy and give them some room to grow up.
Right now it just feels like a constant fight.
I have prayed and pondered and prayed some more and here are my current working solutions for survival of this season:
#1: I’m joining them where I can.
This means I watch Fortnite videos. A lot. I know how to do all the ‘emotes’ and, when they let me, we dance together.
It also means I’m eating more. Sometimes we bond over late night smores or smoothies or a stop through the Del Taco drive through. I’m realizing this endless stream of teenagers (18 consecutive years of teenagers to be exact) is going to be rough on my weight!
And it means I watch stupid movies like Tommy Boy or inappropriate cartoons like Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers and laugh like crazy or listen to my least favorite kind of music in the car.
#2: I’m throwing grace over ALL of it.
I’m trying hard to remember what it felt like to be 13. Remember how awkward that was?
I remember feeling like people were looking at me ALL THE TIME. I remember how hormones would suddenly overtake me and I’d be surprised at my own words or behavior. I remember feeling so very much alone and out of place.
I’m trying hard to understand the internal struggle these boys (especially my oldest) must be going through. What must he be feeling as he heads back to a school he already wasn’t crazy about after his best friend moved to Texas over the summer?
Yep, grace seems like the answer here. Grace for them. And grace for myself too as I navigate parenting teenagers for the first time. So much grace.
#3: I’m actively seeking out joy.
It is there. SO MUCH JOY. These boys of mine are still ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS and loads of fun…it is just a little different now.
Like the joy at dinner this weekend. After they helped carry in groceries and put them all away. After they helped clean the corn for dinner and set the table. After I asked them to fill up all the glasses with milk and set the condiments out on the counter. I asked one if he wouldn’t mind taking out the trash. He turned to me then and with perfect comedic timing said, “Is there anything else I can do for you, Uncle Lewis?”
You guys teens are HARD. They push all my buttons and bring me to the brink of complete insanity every single day. But they are hilarious and fun and sarcastic and kind and sweet and full of life. And they have learned to quote my very favorite movie in all the right places!
Sure their chubby dimpled cheeks have faded but my love??? It is EXACTLY the same.
These boys are my heart’s delight and mothering them is truly my life’s greatest joy…smell and all!!
What a gift it is to watch them grow!!
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