I have been having this conversation with strangers ever since my son was born four years ago. Sometimes, it feels like it happens every day. Other times, I get a small break and then it comes up again.
Scene – Grocery shopping or doing errands with one or both of my kids. We are having a sweet moment of hugging, kissing, laughing or just being together.
Stranger: “Enjoy this now while you can! Soon, they will be teenagers and they will have so much attitude!”
(Alternative scripts include, “they will hate you,” and “soon they will be grown up and it will all be over.”)
Stranger (talking as she walks away): “Seriously, my daughter is 14 and gives me so much attitude.”
Me: “Well, we will be fine.”
How is this encouraging in any way? It’s like they are trying to ruin your special moment because they wish their kids were babies, or perhaps, they are just intending on ruining your thoughts of your future? Seriously. This has to stop! I have been having this conversation over and over again since my first child was weeks old, and I am sick of it.
Even before we were pregnant with our first, I was very prepared to enjoy every stage of that pregnancy, no matter how much sickness, pain or discomfort I felt because I knew that I would just be so happy to be pregnant. Even more so, I knew that so many of my friends would love to have a child and don’t yet and knew my complaints would hurt them. Now, having two kids, I go back to the same attitude time and again as I look at my kids and am so thankful to God for the blessing that they are to us. An attitude of gratitude.
Finding out I was pregnant with our first!
Maybe these random strangers are just having a tough day with their kids – we’ve all been there! I believe, for many, it’s so much deeper than that, though. They are not living with an attitude of gratitude that allows them to see both the struggles and also the great joys of EVERY stage of life. From newborn to toddler and elementary to high school, each child will progress through stages that contain amazing moments of triumph and joy and also hardships, both for them and the parents. However, I truly believe that an underlying joy can be present that helps you get through every stage, thankful for that stage of life.
Sidenote: Every child and every parent is different. There can be extenuating circumstances that brings much more difficult struggles than the ‘norm.’ I am not naive enough to say that life is easy, get through it and just keep smiling. I am very optimistic by nature, but I understand that some seasons of life are extremely difficult.
2nd Sidenote: No, I am not a mom of teenagers yet. I do not have experience in that field, only with preschool and under. I have volunteered with teenagers for 10 years and have spent a lot of time with teenagers, but no, I have not been a mom to a teenager.
As I seriously thought about this conversation today, it did strike me as funny what she was saying trying to compare the two stages – baby/toddler and teenager. Baby/Toddler = easy, fun and enjoyable. Teenager = horrible, difficult and painful. She was trying to do me a service, I guess, and warn me that having teenagers can be hard. Well, complete the picture and tell me how having teenagers can be wonderful, too, because every stage has both positives and difficulties.
Think about it…
Teenagers can be messy and forget to clean up after themselves.
Babies spend hours and hours of their lives ripping containers out of your cupboards on purpose and throwing them on your floor.
Teenagers can keep you up at night waiting for them to come home before curfew.
Babies keep you up…all the time.
Teenagers can give you attitude and test their boundaries on obeying you/finding their independence.
Did I ever tell you about when my toddler told me that he prayed to God to help me be less stern with him?! Yeah, that happened. 🙂 Oh, and be sure to ask my hubby about the look he gets from our 16-month-old when he can’t guess what she wants!
Teenagers (boys) can be rude and belch/fart at the dinner table, leave their stinky clothes around the house, etc.
Umm…did you ever read my story about the trip to the library bathroom??! And have you ever had to scoop poop out of a bath tub?
Teenagers have homework that will make your head explode…and oh yes, teaching them how to drive?!
You have to teach babies….EVERYTHING.
I could go on…and on…but I digress. I laughed my way through this list and had a million more examples I could have given. I think babies are hilarious and exhausting, brilliant and complex, adorable and little stinkers all at once. I absolutely love the newborn stage, the baby stage and the preschool stage…even though each stage has major obstacles to overcome or difficulties to work through. Each stage of a child’s life will present challenges, but I am not about to complain my way through it and waste these years. I choose to have an attitude of gratitude and just love my kids, teach my kids, and serve my kids as best as I am able, no matter the stage. Some days rely on a lot of prayer, Matcha and counting to 10. Some days, I just need a break. However, no matter the day, I know this –
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
So, to the next stranger that gives me a “warning” about my future….just don’t. It’s not needed. I know there will be difficulties ahead….I don’t care! I love my kids unconditionally, I thank God for my kids every single day, and I am fully prepared to face the teenager years with my husband with a lot of prayer, relying on God, and drinking my Matcha…just like I have done through the early years.
Oh, and ps. I plan to actually enjoy my kids as teenagers, too. 🙂