When I returned home from walking the dog early this morning, there was no room to put my shoes away in our crowded hall closet. The shelves were stuffed with size 10 cleats and fake Birkenstocks and 12 pairs of flip flops. I even spied a pair of fancy heels that were definitely not mine.
For a brief moment, I paused and remembered a time when that same closet was filled up with little sandals, tiny crocs and sweet mary janes.
As I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted by a sink full of dirty pots and pans and a counter cluttered with half-eaten plates of eggs and toast along with several partially open cereal boxes. On the fridge was a note from one of my three teen daughters saying, “We will clean up after our Zoom call, promise!”
Later, while sitting at my computer focused on something for work, I was startled by the booming voice of my 14-year old yelling at me from upstairs. “Mom, I need more razors. And a bunch of other stuff. Are you going to the store today?”
No one tells you how many toiletries three teen girls go through on a weekly basis–and how expensive it can be. When someone coined high school as “the wallet years” they weren’t kidding.
Everything in my life with teenagers seems big lately. Big Messes. Big Expenses. Big Problems. Big Emotions.
And sometimes when I’m in the thick of it, I long for the littleness.
The feel of two small arms around my neck. The excitement of letting them pick out a toy in the Dollar-spot at Target. The little snacks I used to provide every hour. The little feet that used to walk around in my too-big heels.
But then I remember the big-ness of my kids has some perks, too. My girls can now handle big responsibilities like staying home alone or cleaning up their messes or making their own money.
There are the new relationships I’ve formed with them because they are finally big enough to sit in the front seat and talk about things we’re both interested in and listen to music that doesn’t come from a cartoon show. We can still cuddle on the couch, but now we watch TV shows and movies I actually want to see. We can even enjoy a trip to Starbucks where every so often they actually treat me with their very own gift cards.
I have a front-row seat as I watch their hearts grow bigger every day, with new romances or compassionate gestures or just when they begrudgingly say “I love you too Mom” when I peek my head in their rooms each night.
Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed in a house full of teenagers (or even just one.) Every thing can just feel so big. Everything can just feel like so much. Everything can just feel like it is going by so quickly. And it makes me long for the days when things were little.
But when I find myself wishing for little girls with little shoes and little voices whose little hands reach for mine, it doesn’t take long before one of their bigger hands is grabbing mine. Now they are leading me on big adventures and sharing their big dreams and showing me just how big life can be.
Raising Teens and Tweens can be hard, but maybe these posts that other parents found helpful will make it a little easier.