Hardest years. For who??

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It becomes clichéd to mention how hard parenting teens can be. Because everybody knows that-right?  What with all the hormones changing, and boy-girl drama, and friend circles changing, and learning to drive, getting a job, getting the grades, college, independence, and on and on and on and on….

And trust me this isn’t a “note” about how raising teens is easy either.  Because the cliché is cliché or “commonplace” for a reason.  It isn’t “I’m up with a baby all night” hard.  Or “trying to soothe a temper tantrum prone 3 year old in a grocery store” hard. It’s different.

It’s “the big game – and you feel like you are on the sidelines, and you wonder if you got them ready for this” hard.

And it isn’t me up to bat.  There isn’t a thing I can do.  The laid back practices, and sipping on a juice box talks in the grass are done.  You’ve coached, and taught, and thrown the ball, and yelled, and corrected, and adjusted the game plan, and tried your best with what you have and now you watch.  And you cheer.  And you pray. 

Watching my 21- 19- 16- and 14 year old become adults is a privilege.  An expensive, heart-wrenching, stay up late waiting for them, wondering where they are, and who they are with, and what they’re going to do next – privilege.

Swing and a miss!!… But hey, what a great swing!

Look at them, pushing back on certain beliefs, and trying to figure out what they think. Awesome. Look at them figuring out for themselves that hard work pays off.  Look at them.  Look at them.

I’m seriously in awe, and heart-broken, and tickled pink, and infuriated – all in about a 24 hour span.  But I get this front row seat at the big game of 4 of the coolest people I know.  I will forever be their biggest fan. Strike outs and home-runs.  All of it.

Last night I was driving down 6th Ave. after a long heart to heart with a friend. It was late.  I see a familiar saunter up ahead. The young man is quite a ways from me, but I would know that walk anywhere.  I pull up and pick up my son who has just finished a long shift. He is exhausted. He looks wiped out, hungry, and not disappointed that Mom showed up. As he tells me about his night at work and wipes the sweat from his eyes, he has this little frustration about him.  As I listened, I realized he was admitting something.  “I need to work out more. I need more sleep….” I smiled to myself.  Hmm.  It’s one thing to tell your kids sleep is good, exercise, and good eating habits and good friends, and the like are the way to go.  But it is in THIS moment that he learns it.

But all of this is to say – these aren’t the hardest years.  Not for me anyway.

I’m learning to protect myself from getting too emotionally involved. (I’m serious!)  You’ve seen the parents at the game that act like the worlds ending when their kiddo misses the pop up. Its like- seriously dude?  Just relax.

You know who these years are truly hard for?  MY KIDS.

I listen to them, and think – dear God – these are the moments of truth.  They have to stand on their own.  They have to decide who they are going to be, and who they will serve. Because they will serve someone… something. And these are NOT easy years for them.

Tonight I get to watch my youngest play in an All-Star game.  He is beyond excited. And I know that right before the game he will get some stomach pains because he is going to get nervous.   But no matter what – if he has the big play, or if he learns from some of his mistakes tonight – we’re getting ice cream.  Because God knows I needed people, siblings, parents, friends, teachers, to cheer me on along the way.