MY Joy in Raising Teenagers

Anyone who really knows me, can tell you just how much I love being a mom. And I bet they would tell you that my favorite stage of mommy-hood was when all four of my children were cute and little. I'm talking about their earliest years. I was one of those moms who completely cherished and absolutely adored each of my pregnancies, each baby year, each toddler year, and each preschool year. Of course I also enjoyed the subsequent years, but my passion, and my specialty, were those first years.

I really shone as a momma in those primary years! I was a hands-on mommy; the mommy who rocked her babies to sleep while singing them lullabies. I formed playgroups and directed preschool co-ops. I loved spending time with my young children; playing with them, curling up together on the couch with a storybook, molding play dough or painting pumpkins together, taking them to parks... I guess you could say those were my glory years as a mom. I mean, is there anything more precious than holding your newborn in your arms or hearing your 2-year old call you, "mama" as he runs into your arms?

Fast forward to today. Those early years that I relished so much, have been forever behind me for a very long time now. My four children aren't little anymore. They are 22, 19, 17 and 12. Sometimes I really do miss those first years with them. Sometimes those kickoff years seemed so much easier in comparison to raising teenagers now. Teenagers are definitely more intense! The fact is, they want to be adults already, but they still need, even crave, parental guidance and support.  

Lately, I've made some realizations about raising older kids and teenagers. As a wise mom recently pointed out, these pre-teens, teens and adults are still our babies. They're just older versions of our babies. And they are still cute, just in a more grown-up way. Look at these two beautiful daughters of mine. I have had the privilege of watching them grow up for the past 17+ years. They have developed their personalities and have discovered some of their talents. They have become two of my best friends. Now that they are older, we have deep, meaningful conversations. We go shopping together and Darcie doesn't hide in a clothes rack and scare me to death! We get cozy on the couch with popcorn and watch our favorite chick-flicks. We read Debbie Macomber novels, and we watch, The Good Witch. We still craft together, still do read-alouds together. We even have sleepovers! It's actually a lot of fun to be a mom to teenage daughters.

Raising teenage boys has its rewards, too. They are fun and they are funny. They playfully tease and joke around. They are little tough men, yet there's a tender side to them that comes out when they are protective of their sisters and their mom. It's really neat to see. It's also been amazing to watch them use the Aaronic Priesthood to bless and pass the sacrament. Zach baptized his little brother. How cool is that? When Zach chose to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that was a crowning moment for me as a mom. It meant I'd definitely done something right! His emails home to me every week were so special. 

Homeschooling Marcus, one-on-one, has been amazing. We are our own little team, working together to give him a truly unique and memorable education. We still have our read-alouds, too. Reading The Hobbit together just last month made me remember just how much I love that story. My boys don't care much for crafting and they insist on watching action movies with me, but they still give me hugs and they still value my opinion. Our conversations are entertaining and interesting, filled with facts and growing knowledge.

Maybe I should rethink what I consider my favorite stage of motherhood. Truth be told, now that I've been through them all (from birth to letting them go and start leading truly independent lives), they are all great stages. Different, yes, but each gratifying in their own way. And the beauty of being a mother is that we never stop. We will always hold a special place in the hearts of our children. So, if you are a mom raising teenagers, consider yourself extremely blessed.

I know I do.

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