Sunday, June 24, 2007

The (sometimes) Dubious Joys of Raising Teens

I have always been a very hands-on mom. When my boys were little, their dad was always working, and so I tried to make up for that by doing things that I thought a “dad” would do. I took them trout fishing and hiking. I played in the woods with them and collected rocks. I bought them a bug box which we put bugs in, examined through the magnified cover, and then released into the wild. All of this despite the fact that I have always been a very “girlie girl.” At night, after they fell asleep, I would look at them and see angels: pink cheeks and curled fingers and hair as soft as whispers. No matter how tired they made me during the day, or how frantic with worry I might have been when they got lost in the clothes racks at the mall, I could have this peaceful reminder of how God had entrusted me with these innocent, beautiful beings.

Well, now they are teenagers who have absolutely no time for me. I have become stupid, out of touch, and a wet blanket. I stand in their way of freedom and fun. Daily, it seems, there is something to fight about because I refuse to take the path of least resistance. These fights can sometimes wear me out so much that I have nothing left. But it is so important to me that they know that in this very fickle world, their mom has values which she refuses to abandon to be popular. And since they go to bed long after I do, I no longer have that peaceful reminder of watching them while they sleep.

Enter my vivacious, perky and adorable four-year-old daughter. She puts me back in touch with the boys when they were the same age. I often hope that she puts the boys back in touch with the mom they thought was fun, clever, and cool. We are happiest as a family when we are marveling at her spirit and antics. In addition to all of the wonderful gifts she has brought to our family, she gives me the chance, right now, when I am flustered by all of the mistakes I seem to be making with her brothers, to slow down and cherish the warmth of a child curled up in my arms or the splendor of finding treasures on the sidewalk. I never paid attention when people told me that they grow up too fast, to enjoy them while they are young. I won’t make that mistake again.

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