Three teenagers! Well, technically, only two, but the last is a girl, and in the throes of pre-pubescent angst, so I’ll just count it as three. “They” always say that a girl in her teens is far worse than a boy… Who “they” are, I don’t know, but I think I’ve been “them” on occasion before. Anyway, I look at my mood swings, see hers in the making, and think “Oh, my Lord, what is about to hit me!?”
Seriously though, I had a talk with my sister-in-law a couple weeks ago, and we were discussing the difference between raising a baby and a 17 year old. And the consensus was that it’s sooooo much harder to raise a 17 year old. Shoot – it’s harder to raise a 12 year old than a baby!
The thing about babies is that they exhaust you physically. But a teenager, now, they’ll exhaust you mentally. Which, in turn, causes you to be worn out physically, emotionally, and often, spiritually. My husband and I were out to dinner a few weeks ago, and were seated by a young family: Dad, Mom, 3 year old boy, and a 6 month old baby. And it was pleasant to be seated close to them. The young boy obeyed his mom and dad, and was very polite to the wait staff. As they were leaving the restaurant, I took the opportunity to encourage the mom. I told her that they were obviously doing a great job raising their kids because they were attentive, polite, and obedient. She replied that it was nice to hear because there were so many times during each day she was just worn out and feeling that she felt she wasn’t being a “good mom.”
Two things about this: first, it’s important to continue to do the hard things when they are young, because it just gets so much harder later. If you’ve done the hard things early, then hopefully, the things you have to endure as they are older aren’t as dramatic as they could be. And second, every parent, no matter how old their kids are, feels that they aren’t being a good enough parent. It was because a stranger once encouraged my husband and me that I was able to get through some really bad days when ours were younger.
Now, though, the advice and encouragement we seem to get is that “we’ll get through it.” Not around, over, or under it (although there are definitely days when I feel under the situation!), but through it. And – “they’ll turn out fine.” Like my kids are muffins, and they’ll “turn out” of the muffin pan without sticking or missing big chunks! I’m sure it is true, but people in general don’t seem to comment on good kids, especially if they are adolescent. I’m 99% sure our kids really are good kids, but there are the days that I could use the encouragement from a stranger again. Now, every little thing – clothes, grades, computer & video time, chores, etc… – becomes a drama, if not a battle. I’m worn out by all of it. I’m exhausted. Will I get through it? God willing!