I’ve noticed that more often than not when I get a compliment on my kids these days it is kind of coated in pleasant surprise that we all actually still like each other now that they are 16 and 13. We’re right in the thick of the teenage years and I’m realizing that a lot of people are terrified by the thought. Honestly I was one of them at one time. I think that there’s this misconception out there that these years are destined to be full of angst and slammed doors and, well I’m just gonna’ say it…moody, hormonal assholes. But I’m here to tell you that isn’t true.
I mean, okay maybe that’s sometimes true. But they usually forgive me. Badump bump.
Lean in and let me tell you a secret that is not often told: The teenage years can be really, incredibly awesome. I’d even go so far as to say this is my favorite phase of parenthood yet. Well, at least tied with that sweet, chubby, laughing baby phase.
Things That are Awesome About Teenagers: A Comprehensive List
1. A teenager will NEVER wake you up at twenty til the buttcrack of dawn asking for Cheerios after she has kept you up all night insisting with a pouty lip that she needs to immediately watch The Little Mermaid for the eleventy-millionth time WITH YOU.
2. Teenagers want to sleep in their own rooms…nay, in their own beds in a weird teenage blanket-burrito formation that keeps all their limbs neatly tucked in and will make you wonder why they didn’t sleep burrito style like that all the times they kept sneaking into your bed and somehow simultaneously stuffing one foot in your ear and another firmly in your crotch while you prayed, “Just two solid hours of sweet, sweet sleep please God please.”
3. If a teenagers spill something they can clean it up they dang selves. What what.
4. Teenagers do not demand to be carried, say, from the furthest point in the mall all the way to the car at the end of the parking lot. They will willingly walk. Unimaginable while you’re stuck in the toddler phase, isn’t it? And even if they do get a little tired and over it, I have found that you can get them moving again by telling them that you think you saw a Starbucks near the entrance on the way in.
5. You can share shoes and sometimes clothes. I mean, they’ll always look better in them but let’s not focus on that. This is a happy list.
6. Teenagers can have actual meaningful conversations with you. You know those days when you think that if you don’t get some grownup talky-time with someone who, say, doesn’t let their own nose drippings flow directly into their mouth that you might die by your own hands? Boom! You’ve got it! Your teenager has real grownup thoughts and opinions on politics and religion and pop culture and love and there will be times when you will be stunned by the maturity and wisdom that just came out of the same mouth that just asked you how you tell if muffins look “done.”
7. If they have a booger you can tell them and they’ll just, like, go handle that.
8. You can leave them home alone and go run errands, or get a pedi, or have a date night with your husband and not have to get a babysitter or worry that they might drown in a five-gallon bucket or stick their finger in a socket. I know, that’s a revolutionary thought right now, isn’t it? And moms everywhere shouted “FREEDOMMMM!”
9. You realize that they are really growing into becoming their own person. Not a mini-you. Not a mini-him. A separate, beautiful, independent and amazing person. There will still be shadows and whispers of you and your spouse, to be sure, but there will be impressive and wonderful things there that you can take no credit for (believe me, I’ve tried. Nobody bought it) and you will marvel at them. This is when you realize your offspring aren’t merely little reflections of you, and that if you treat them as such you’re doing them a huge disservice (Btw, if you’re still doing that, stop it. Stop it now).
10. Once they are 16 they can go to the grocery store for you when you forget the milk. I don’t really feel like this one needs to be expanded upon. It’s that obviously awesome.
I think that pretty much sums it up, but I reserve the right to add to this list often over the next several years.
Don’t fear the teenager, young moms. And meanwhile appreciate those other stages too, because as much as I’m enjoying the now I don’t know that we ever stop longing for the yesterday too. I guess that’s just part of it, isn’t it?