Christmas break was an interesting experience for us this year. For the first time in a long time, all of my kids were home. As in, MOVED IN home. With our youngest being eleven and the oldest twenty-four, the span of ages in our house is pretty vast—along with expectations, life experience, and all other myriad of issues. It makes for an interesting mix. And as the mom of this crew, the toll it can take is, at times, wearying.
Granted, it’s a different kind of “weary” than toddler-hood—and thank goodness. Those mamas who are in the throes of toddlerhood on top of the challenges of parenting young adulthood? My hat is off to you. Please come put your feet up and drink all of my wine because (quite frankly?) I feel too old—too old to chase toddlers, and wipe various orifices, and keep track of which kid got what medicine, or who exactly hasn’t had their snack yet. My brain is done.
The big kids? They come find you. No matter where you are or what time it is, the mama is *always* in. I cannot tell you how many times a teenager has barged into our room “after hours,” so to speak, with some story—be it hilarious or heartbreaking —that simply could NOT wait until a more reasonable hour, which for them, is anytime after twelve noon.
Which brings us to the next humongous difference in parenting these two age groups—the hours of operation. To be a toddler-mama, one must be in go-to mode by 5am. 5:01 the absolute latest. Because those little ones simply will NOT wait. Whereas with teens and young adults? 5am is the latest you’ll ever be awake UNTIL—as in, from the night before (#askmehowiknow). Teens (if left totally up to themselves—don’t recommend) won’t surface for the day until sometime after 1pm. They won’t actually be coherent until around 3pm or so, which makes them completely off-kilter for the rest of the day (read: of their lives) and sends everyone spinning into endless hormonal oblivion. Hope you enjoy roller coasters. (*grin*)
Along with these differences, there are many similarities in parenting toddlers and teens. The most obvious? The mystery of the disappearing cups. Granted, teenagers don’t need to use sippy cups anymore (unless they’re of the Yeti or Hydroflask variety), so the amount of available containers is vast. This, however, becomes a huge disadvantage because now there are exactly ZERO available cups in which to pour the oh-so-necessary glass of wine we’ve earned at the end of a long, hormonal day. And while I won’t judge any mom who might resort to this, I have never actually *preferred* a sippy cup for my wine.
And let’s not forget the communal bed. You think I am joking. Alas, I am not. I cannot count the number of times my teens have perched on the edge of my bed just to . . . chat with me? Scroll through their phones? FaceTime their friends? Most of the time, I’m not entirely sure. I think they just want to lay claim to their rightful spot, or heritage—or something. My husband will walk into our room, see our sweet gals sprawled all over our bed, groan, and leave. Eventually he’ll come back in and unceremoniously kick everyone out.
It’s all real, though, messy but grace-filled, isn’t it? The stories, the cups (sippy and otherwise), the lack of sleep. We moms are the front line and the last line. I pick up and wash just as many cups now as I did then, listen to just as many stories, wipe just as many tears. It’s different, for sure, but my duties are just so much the same. It’s my life, our life. And while it’s overwhelming on the front and back ends, it’s all so very important. We’re nourishing and sustaining souls.
All of it matters. From little to big.