Season of Teenagers

You know how there are seasons of life? Well, I am in a Season. Capitalization intentional. It’s not necessarily a good season or a bad season, its more like a ‘SEASON!’ I mean, it is like everything coming at me, all at once, allllllllll the time.
I was not prepared for this season of having teenagers. If you have teenagers, or have had teenagers, I know you feel this.
When you have littles, people are always saying things like “Oh just wait until they’re walking” or “Oh, just wait until they’re all in a million activities”. But no one ever says “Oh just wait until they’re teenagers and young adults and they are really independent but your world still revolves wholly around everything they have going on at the very expense of your social life”. I always hated that “Oh just wait” business, because I was like, I don’t want to wait, I just want to be right here, right now, right where I’m at. Even when it’s hard and chaotic. And now, even after being a parent for a little more than 2 decades, it’s still hard and chaotic sometimes.
It’s a different kind of hard and chaotic. It’s not cutting up their food and tying their shoes and driving all over God’s creation to make sure everyone has everything they need for a million and one things. They can not only cut their own food, usually they cook it. They not only tie their own shoes, now they order them online and then just ask you to venmo them the cost. And at least half of mine are driving themselves to their never-ending activities. Usually at the cost of “Mom, can I use your car?” But at least the middle one calls me once in a while, even if its just to ask that question. By the end of this month, we’ll have yet another driver and still the same number of cars. I desperately need to win the lottery.
Last week at church the question was posed, “What is something you are looking forward to?” I sat there and thought through this crazy summer of everyone going in a thousand directions. Typically, my answer to that question would be whatever trip or event where all of my people will be together. But this summer looks very different than years past. All 3 of my kiddos have jobs with completely random schedules. I did a big road trip with 1 kid last month and we’re doing another short overnight next weekend. 1 kid just got back from a weekend in Florida with her bestie and another kid is flying off to Florida with his bestie in a little over a week. While he’s gone, the girl will be taking care of the dog while the other 4 of us road trip to New Mexico. The day after we get back, my kids leave for vacation with their dad. The day after they get back, the girl goes back to college.
I have officially reached the stage of ‘It’s getting harder to get everyone together.’ My kids are all over here living their best lives and I am merely hanging on for the ride.
This week I asked all of them for their work schedules so I could try to find a time that we could all have dinner before everyone splits and we aren’t back together again until Christmas. You might think I’m kidding, I’m not. It’s a very real possibility, and highly probably that all my kids will not be back in my house, together, until Christmas day. Almost 6 months from now. And this summer there has been a grand total of about 15 waking minutes that we’ve all been together. How did I get here?
It sounds like I’m complaining. And on some level, I am. But I also need to make it known that I LOVE having teenagers and young adults. I love the relationships I have with them. I love the quality time I get with them. I love the one-on-one road trips for competitions or college visits or Moms weekend. I love dinner dates and nights at the MUNY, even when they end with a canceled performance of Beauty and the Beast followed by a harried run back to the car amidst hail and lightening. I love watching them become individuals, seeing what drives each of them. I love that I can see them finding their independence and knowing that I’ve helped cultivate that. I love that they still need me a little bit-to bounce ideas off of, to take them places, to vent to, to problem solve.
But I’m not kidding when I say I’m just simply trying to hang on. I have never in my life felt like such a dichotomy. I am so rarely alone, and yet sometimes I feel lonely. I crave time to rest and recover, but then I can’t sit still. I am an athlete, and yet I am way out of shape. I did an Ironman (coming up on a decade ago) and I still feel like that was an accident. I did that 140 mile race, I trained for it as a single mom of little kids. And now that they are old enough to take care of themselves, I can barely get out the door for a quick run. I guess that’s partly just because I don’t want to miss a minute with them. Before I know it, they’ll all be gone.
I know people say that when they’re little. The days are long, but the years are short. It’s true. Every bit of it.
Last night, we (the Beau and I) had a way overdue night out with friends. These are friends that we used to see every Thursday night for trivia. Last night we realized we hadn’t seen each other since an annual fundraiser we attend each year…that was in November. So while my kids’ social lives are thriving, mine is severely lacking. And to be totally honest, I’ve been feeling it.
While we were catching up last night over grilled sandwiches from The Cheese Shack food truck at 9 Mile Garden (highly recommend by the way), Kara said to me, “You Mom hard. You work hard. You self-care hard.”
“Well, not so much on the self-care part lately,” I interrupted.
Lately I’ve been feeling the lack of that part. I’ve been momming exceptionally hard and trying to be in the moment for all of it. The few days that I’m actually working this month are jam packed with patients, and trying to keep my other side tasks caught up so I don’t drown. I’ve been working through lunches, staying late, going in on days I wasn’t actually planning to work just to lighten the load.
The self-care part though. Unless you count the multiple medical procedures I’ve had done this year. Which I don’t because while they are necessary, the stress of the planning logistics, medical bills, etc, just requires more deep breaths that I haven’t felt like there’s been any time for. I swear I need another 10 hours in a day. But I also know I’ve been beating myself up lately. Yeah, I did an Ironman in 2014. But then there was nursing school, and working full time, writing a book, Covid, an injury, and the annoying Meno 20 that came on overnight and no matter what I do, not a single pound of it will budge.
I do all the things. I get my 10-12k steps daily, I lift weights 3-4 times a week, I prioritize protein, I sleep 8 hours a night, I drink plenty of water, blah, blah, blah. I like the part about “reduce stress” that they throw into that list. Oh sure, because being an adult isn’t stressful at all. Ha.
Anyway, I saw a thing the other day about finding a picture of yourself as a little girl and taping it to the mirror where you’ll see it every day. And any time you start to say something negative about yourself, remember that you’re saying it to her too.
That one hit deep.
I may not have time for self-care in the form of weekly massages and pedicures right now. And I certainly don’t have the option of planning a month-long beach retreat. But I can start now by digging up a picture and tapping it to the mirror. And going easy on myself. Speaking gently. With love.
So, like I said, I’m in a Season. It’s a little of everything. I have so much to be grateful for. I have a lot to look forward to, even if a lot of it is looking forward to seeing my kids’ smiles as they go have adventures and come home to tell me about them. I have two legs that carry me for morning miles around the little lake I live on. I’m not in a season of Ironman at the moment, and that’s ok.
I guess by saying I’m in a season, I just mean I’m living life. Sometimes its good, sometimes its hard, sometimes grief overwhelms, sometimes joy abounds, sometimes you laugh, sometimes you cry. Sometimes you have to hold on tight, sometimes you have to let go. Sometimes its all of those at the same time. But whatever season I’m in, I’m going to focus on being fully present.
Oh, and that time we carved out this week when all the kids are available for dinner. I will be leaving work promptly at 4 on Thursday so we can grab a quick bite before the oldest has to be at work at 7. It was honestly *The*Only*Time* we could find for the rest of this entire crazy summer that we are all available. So I will take what I can get, because that’s the season I’m in.

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