1. The eating never stops. I don’t even know where to start in the Daily Circle of Life, but let’s just say the only time the kitchen is clean and not in use is when everyone is gone at school for the day. I treat that eight-hour time frame as the new Evening Peace. You know, that blessed chunk of time when all the babies are in bed and you clean the kitchen and go to bed and then you wake up and everything is just as you left it? With teens, that no longer exists. I go to bed and inevitably hear someone, a few minutes later, walk into the kitchen and pour some milk. And make a sandwich (which I don’t hear being made, but find evidence of the next morning). Lesson learned: take baby steps. I let the boys eat when they are hungry, but they need to clean up after themselves. I’m okay with dishes in the sink; don’t leave stuff all over the place, though.
2. There is a lot of talk of growing. Growth spurt that just happened, one that is in the near future. You are acutely aware of the inches, how those boys will (I’m not even exaggerating) come downstairs one morning and you can literally see that they grew overnight. And then there are lags and you wait and wonder. And so will your son. When will I grow again? How tall will I be? And it’s all this grand adventure, watching to see who they will become, as it unfolds in front of you.
3. It’s not as scary as you might imagine. I mean, ten years ago this version of me probably would have freaked me out. Boys, big teenage boys, coming and going. Being all around my house, eating all my food, driving my van, going to hit golf balls in the afternoon, just because. Wha? How can you manage it all? How do you keep track? You just…do. Somehow. Like mothers the world over, our little boys turn into young men and there is grace for it. Some days are more grace-filled than others, but you manage. You learn that you can’t treat a 16-year-old like an eleven-year-old. You have moments of grace and clarity when you realize it’s time to adjust the approach and you just do it. And you love it. Trust me on this. Paul and I will sometimes catch ourselves just beaming with pride and joy. These kids! What a delight.
4. There are some days when everything I just wrote in that last graph feels like a complete lie and total hogwash. Some days are hard and you question everything you are doing, how you are doing it, why you are even trying. Usually it’s just a flash of emotion, but just push through. It’s gonna be okay.
5. Another graph about food seems warranted. These boys! They eat A TON. But it’s not necessarily what you would think. It’s like, some meals they will devour everything in sight. Some nights not so much. But just buy the foods that you feel good about feeding your family, and they will figure out how to get it down the hatch (for me, I’ve gotten away from a lot of processed foods in part because of the health factor but really? Because I’m cheap. And a box of Froot Loops is gone in ten minutes flat. Might as well just burn the $3.97).
6. That’s all I’ve got. I’m off to sew buttons on a blue blazer (more life with teen boys!) because that becomes part of our school uniform in October. Also, I’m sure there is a new round of dirty socks to be picked up (by THEM, which means I need to direct that traffic as well).
7. Last thing: Don’t be afraid. This is advice I’m giving myself. Do everything out of love. Apologize when you mess up. And require that these kids do the same. Give them opportunities to earn your trust, and pray that whatever is going on under the radar will come to light. It always does!