I remember the days when I had three children all under four years old. Those days started early and ended late. Sometimes the days seemed to sort of flow from one to the next with no distinct ending of the previous and the beginning of the next. Those were the days of constantly picking up clothes, wet towels, shoes, books, toys, etc. from the floor. Those were the days when I wondered why my children thought that naps were a waste of time. Why could they not understand how lucky they were to have a set time every day to take a nap, and that I would threaten bodily harm to anyone that caused an interruption to them being able to successfully take this nap.
I honestly thought that as my children got older I would get more physical and mental rest. Boy was I wrong. I hate to break it to you mamas, but teenagers are like preschoolers on steroids.
1. They cause a disruption in our sleeping habits.
For the past twenty years I have slept with one eye open. All of you mamas know what I mean. For all of you dads that are like my husband and won’t wake up even with a screaming baby beside you, sleeping with one eye open means that my subconscious will not let me go into a deep sleep because there is a chance someone will need me in the middle of the night.
When my children were little and would yell, “Mommy!” in the middle of the night, I was able to tell by their tone if I was going to be cleaning up vomit or comforting a child due to a bad dream before I even made it to their bedroom. I also could never understand how it could take a young child so long to finally fall asleep but be up at the crack of dawn. Why couldn’t the nights that they constantly needed you or a drink of water until the early hours of the morning not at least be balanced out by letting you sleep until after sunrise the next day?
Now, on the nights my bedtime is delayed, it is because I cannot go to sleep until they are all home. Instead of calling you from their rooms in the middle of the night, they call you asking to extend their curfew or the heart stopping reason of being in an automobile accident. I am living proof that your heart can start beating again after getting one of those dreaded phone calls. I have actually survived more than one.
2. Food is still an issue
I must admit that my children have never really been picky eaters. I decided early on that I was not going to be a short order cook. This did not change the fact that they were very vocal about their likes and dislikes.
As teenagers mine like to open the refrigerator, look at the leftovers, and if it isn’t to their liking complain about there not being food in the house and say that they need to go and get something from a fast food restaurant. Then, when I have been busy working all day and decide that I want a break and choose to cook something simple like hot dogs, I have to hear complaints about how they don’t want to eat them because it isn’t healthy. Hello??? Just two days ago you decided to choose fast food over the healthy leftovers, but now you can’t eat a hot dog? I just do not understand. Add to this the large amount of food that my teenage boys can consume and it’s amazing that I get anything done other than going to the grocery store and prepare food. Of course there is nothing more rewarding than hearing your young adult children tell you that you are an awesome cook and help themselves to seconds. I will never get tired of filling up hungry bellies.
3. Tornadoes Never Stop Going Through Your House
If you thought dodging the lego booby traps or the beads from a make your own jewelry kit were bad, just wait until there are major trip hazards in the form of shoes, clothes, books, electronics, plates and glasses that contained a late night snack and never found their way back into the kitchen are constantly in your way.
4. They must learn to do things independently
When my children were younger I constantly heard them say, “I can do it myself!” Of course this battle for independence usually came at the most inconvenient of times like when we were trying to get out the door and not be late or when I had just mopped my kitchen floor and wanted it to stay clean for more than five minutes and you walk in to find your four year old pouring themselves a drink and the liquid has overflowed onto the counter and is dripping onto your just mopped floor. A word of advice to all you mamas of little drink spillers. A spilled drink is not that big of a deal. No one has gotten hurt and a towel and mop can easily clean it up. Trust me when I say it really isn’t a big deal. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self this.
Learning how to control various means of transportation can cause a mother’s heart to go into atrial fibrillation and cause the stomach to churn. When they are young it is exciting to see them learn how to ride a bicycle without training wheels. The excitement turns to pure terror when you must hand over control of an automobile to an unexperienced teenager while you sit in the passenger’s seat. You think this is bad? Just wait until the law says that they are old enough to take that vehicle out alone. Alone as in without you. I am certain this is why I started going grey at thirty-eight. You thought you were doing some praying when they were shouffering you around, forcing a smile on your face, pretending you were not scared out of your mind. Your prayers are going to go into overdrive. Thank the Lord he loves hearing his children call on him. I would have worn out my welcome a long time ago.
5. “But, why?”
You might as well get used to this question because it is not going away. When my children were little, they always wanted to know “why”? This is perfectly understandable for a young person. They are learning about the world and are truly trying to understand why something is the way it is.
When this question comes out of a teenager’s mouth it is normally because they do not like something you have just said, you are limiting the freedom that they feel they somehow deserve, or they have just asked you for permission to do something or for something that they knew you would say no to in the first place. I normally respond with, “Why did you just ask me that?” Yes, I see the irony in this. I think I will just move on to my next thought.
6. You Gotta Have Faith
I remember when my children were young and didn’t feel well I would ask them what hurt. Due to their limited vocabularies at such a young age, it was often hard for them to tell me exactly what was bothering them. I would pray that God would help them fight their illness. When they were in the care of a sitter I would pray for their safety as well as behavior. Let’s be honest, no one wants to babysit a rowdy child.
As my children have grown and become more independent, I find myself praying even more. My prayers are almost never-ending. There is so much more to be concerned about. Driving, school, friends, college, what will they do as a career, cutting some apron strings when needed, knowing when to cut those apron strings, first job, first boyfriend/girlfriend, the list goes on and on. You think you are a praying mama when they are little; just wait until the teen years. Sometimes I don’t even want to leave my prayer closet. I not only pray for God’s protection and guidance, I also pray that my children develop strong personal relationships with the Lord. I want them to know that they can’t go through this life alone. I want them to know that the creator of this world has created them for a unique purpose. I want them to know that they need the Lord more than they realize. For me, having teenagers has put my prayer time on steroids. Helping our preschoolers through certain situations requires lots of prayer, but in my opinion it doesn’t even compare to the amount of prayer needed during the teen years.
Parenting is hard work, but so rewarding. There will be tears of joy and tears of pain. The good thing is that we all have a heavenly father who will answer our “Why?”, provide us with necessities, let us be independent but still be there to protect us, and guide us if we will just let him.