To my newly minted teenagers, Happy Birthday! I am cheering you on in this milestone as you enter this new chapter of your lives.
I started writing about my kids before they were even here. Documenting our infertility journey, almost shot by shot. At some points in the journey, it seemed like like kids would never be our reality.
However, insert the all the surprised face emojis, IVF worked for us and we were officially expecting. And not just one, but TWO, boy/girl twins. Our little girl was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect while in utero, which added an additional layer of stress. I really couldn’t breathe until they were here. And if I’m honest, I can say I haven’t taken a full breath since they landed on this planet.
Because they are here. And they are thriving. And they are turning the big THIRTEEN.
And most days, that takes the air out of my lungs. I have been in charge of actual human beings for thirteen years. One of the biggest commitments of my life and the driver of my passion for moms and parents in Houston.
We hear lots of things about tween/teens – the stress, the drama, the social media control, friend issues, the testing of boundaries, and oh yes, the tantrums. Yes, teens/tweens can have those too. But there is also so much good. SO, SO much. Don’t sleep on the teens, y’all. They are going to save the world.
13 Reasons My Newly Minted Teenagers are Great
- You are not afraid to speak your mind. We have taught you to speak up. We may not always agree with what you are passionate about in the moment but we can talk about it.
- We can introduce you to new things: movies, TV shows, lots of Dateline and 20/20 too! You sort of get most of it and for someone who tapped out of Bubble Guppies a long time ago, to watch shows with you that don’t make my brain bleed, I’m all in.
- You are independent. You make your own breakfasts, you can make your own lunches. You are in charge of your hunger and I’m not hovering constantly making sure your Bento boxes look like Pinterest.
- You have learned valuable social skills. You see how words impact people. As newly minted teenagers, you have experienced hurtful words, which in turn, makes you a more empathetic and compassionate person, because you don’t want people to feel like you did.
- You have an incredible thirst for knowledge. You see the world differently than your somewhat jaded parents. You take in alllll the things; you have a passion for world knowledge and for your escapes in books and WW2 history. You want to know it all.
- You still want to be around us. Yes, it’s fleeting on some days where I’m not entirely sure that I’ve seen you that day. But then there are the nights and the car rides, where we still talk and we laugh and we commiserate and we sing. And the nights you spend just cuddling on the couch. 13 is oh so big, but not too big for cuddling.
- Your brains are fascinating. You are way more brazen than I ever was to ask us all sorts of questions – sex questions, questions about LGBTQ issues, questions about school shootings – all things that I’m not sure I would have asked my parents. You are brave.
- You are slowly figuring out who you are as people. What matters to you and who matters to you and why. Where you want to spend your time. And with whom you want to spend your time. It matters to you. And I love seeing this work out in your daily.
- You can take out the trash and bring in the trash bins. AMEN.
- Sarcasm. It’s big in our family. You get it now and throw it back equally. I cannot get enough.
- You are not so big that I can’t look over at you and not see your sweet long eyelashes, the ones I used to coax into sleep by running my hand gently up and down your face. You are not so big that mom isn’t cool – although that’s probably coming soon.
- Responsibility and accountability. You are beginning to understand this lesson. Whether it’s making sure you have your school lanyard or PE shoes or other, you are becoming more in charge of being responsible. And THEN, you are being held accountable for not remembering said items and learning what that feels like to lose privileges or trust. It’s not the most fun part of the teens but it’s massively important.
- You still love us and you still love big. We talk about the teen years as being big and scary, and yes they are. But I am diving deep into the love aspect. We don’t always get along, and we will not see eye-to-eye on a lot, but gosh dang it, we all love each other and we love each other well. I see it in the way you think of us at random times during the day. I see it in the way that you are considerate of what your twin may want for their birthday. I see it in the way in you big belly laugh when your daddy is especially silly. I see it in the way you want to find out how momma did something, cooking or skincare or otherwise. And mostly I see it in the way of how you love others so, so very well. Please hold tight to that.
But not to be Polyanna, I am also going to look at the bright side here. We have survived the sleepless nights, the 2am feeds, the projectile vomits, the potty training, the timeouts, and the literal carrying them under each arm out of a restaurant. It was all physically exhausting, but still even then, there were large pockets of joy.
So I am going to choose to find large pockets of joy in thirteen. I’m quite certain my newly minted teenagers are there. Especially if they understand my jokes.
To Ryan and Quinn,
To be your momma has been the biggest privilege of my life and by far, the best thing I’ve ever done. Thank you for continuing to inspire me, challenge me, grow me, and love me. No matter what, your mommy is always here for you. ALWAYS. I love YOU more.