Category Archives: Motherhood

To the parents of teenagers

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To the parents of teenagers,

I owe all of you an apology. I was naïve. I was proud. I spoke of that which I did not know. I would listen as you talked about your teen with desperation in your voice at how they had somehow changed overnight. They were now these angsty, hormonal humans who could cut you with their eyes and under their breath mumblings. The looks. The sarcasm. The eye rolls. Honestly, I judged you. I would never have said anything out loud, but in my mind I thought, “Well, maybe if you talked to them more. Maybe if you monitored their every move more. Maybe if you taught them about Jesus more…”

Bless my little heart.

What can I say? I had no idea. I broke the Mom code. I judged you without having walked in your shoes. I’m so ashamed I had these thoughts that it was something YOU did to make your teenager live on the brink of emotional breakdown at all times. I thought you had some control over their stubborn will and annoyed sighing. What did you do to make them stomp off and curse you under their breath?

Oh, it’s called you were being a GOOD parent? But I thought it felt good to be a good parent.

Lies. If someone tells you they are slaying this parenting thing and they never really have any issues with their kids, they’re either liars or really bad parents. You are allowed to feel like an amazing parent for one hot minute. That’s it. You get one minute when all your kids are good and you’re good and your marriage is good, then something will fall apart. It’s SCIENCE.

Maybe I’m writing this to make myself feel better since I’m on the cusp of having a teenager myself. Moods are changing, eyes are being rolled, and general annoyance is heightened. It’s coming. I feel it in my bones and I need to know grace exists when my kid is the one screwing it up. I’m going to be the one needing handholding from those brave mamas that have gone before me. I will need reminding that my identity is not in the hands of my children; it’s in the hands of the God who made me. And my children’s identity isn’t in my hands. I don’t need to be making them into who I want them to be; I should be praying for them and giving them the freedom to be who God wants them to be. That last statement…that’s the hard one. Giving them freedom. The constant questioning of when to give them slack on the rope and when to reign them in is a doubt-filled struggle. And if I’m not going to get it right every time, how can I expect them to always make the right choices? Oh mamas, how do we do this? What are we to do with these children who are turning into adults? We pray. We cry. We open our hands and return to God what was His all along. This is when we begin to trust God with our kids, and when we remember He’s writing their story.

Maybe I’m writing this so I will remember that very thing. He’s writing their story just like He’s writing mine.

Sheesh.

Now I know why no one tells you about actual parenting at your baby shower. Mothers everywhere would be Googling “How to keep your baby in utero longer.” I think I need a “teenager shower” where older, wiser moms can come over and give me advice/condolences about the teenage years. And instead of diapers, everyone just brings me $20 because THESE HUMANS COST SO MUCH MONEY!!!!

Anyone else watching their children turn into little adults before their very eyes?

-Courtney

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Note to my younger self: the hotel edition

This post is in honor of my sister-in-law. I promise it gets better, my friend.

 

Note to my younger self,

Oh, honey. It’s ok. You will survive this too. Traveling with littles isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s like being held captive by tiny terrorists. You can’t negotiate with terrorists and toddlers. Their M.O. is to deprive you of sleep until you break, then they cry incessantly until YOU are the one rocking back and forth in the corner saying things like “Find your happy place” over and over. Staying in a hotel with kids is like going to war. You think you know what you’re getting in to, but you don’t. You think, “There are enough beds for everyone so it’s all good.” This is a lie from the pit. Don’t fall into the trap, young one. All those hotel commercials with families frolicking by the pool and laughing over the complimentary breakfast are a sham. Apparently no one wants to see the red-eyed mother rocking her inconsolable baby in the lobby at 1:00 am. No one advertises the 2 year old who has just pooed his swim diaper in the pool and his parents frantically trying to get him out. And what about the littles who are running amok down the halls screaming at the top of their lungs at 6:30 in the morning? I guess they didn’t audition well.

I promise there’s a silver lining here. Now, your kids are older. They can sleep in beds other than their own and not act like crazed animals. They sleep, yes SLEEP, in these beds all the way til morning without a peep. They actually like going to hotels because they know they’ll get to watch TV in bed. They don’t run up and down the halls anymore terrorizing every guest that wants to sleep past 7:00. And since they’ve all figured out how to control their bodily functions, there are no “code browns” in the swimming pool. The unfortunate thing is they are still children and act as if the whole hotel room is a laundry basket, so their clothes cover every inch of the floor. I know you’re freaking out right now. “You mean you let their clothes get on the icky, germ-infested floor?!” Yes. Yes I do. Ironically, your children’s immune systems are super human. I like to think it’s because of your early dislike for deep cleaning. Thank you, young one, for not making their home as sterile as a hospital. (P.S. you also still like to credit yourself for things that probably have nothing to do with you i.e. their immune systems. It’s fine.)

Here’s the deal. You are one tough cookie whether you know it or not. Sometimes the tiny terrorists win and that’s ok. You will live to fight another day. If you feel overcome by your little loves, take a minute. Go for a LONG walk, get a pedicure, visit a friend, see a counselor, read a book. Do whatever it is that feeds your soul and frees you from reality, even if it’s just for a little bit. These tiny people need you and they need you to be strong. Hang in there, it gets sooo much better. And harder in some ways. I can’t tell you about that now though, you might have a come apart. Carry on, brave warrior. You were made for this.

Love,

Your more rested older self

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P.S. The last time you went to a hotel your kids stayed in an adjoining room. Did you hear me?! ADJOINING ROOM!! FREEDOM!!!!! No more 8:30 bedtime for you and Kyle! Nevermind that you have no idea how many hours of television they watched before bed. You don’t even care because you got to watch Netflix on your phone. It was magical. It’s in your future. It’s your destiny. Nevermind that you don’t know what Netflix is yet. You will. And you will binge on Gilmore Girls. I know it’s on TV right now in 2007 but just wait. You’ll watch it in 9 years.

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Note to My Younger Self…

What if we could tell our younger self things? Wouldn’t this be sort of amazing? I wrote my younger self a letter and wanted to share it with you guys because I think some other moms of littles might need to hear these things too.

unnamed Can we talk about this picture for a minute? I mean how haggard do Kyle and I look? Pay no attention to the barf on my husband’s t-shirt. Why do my kids have their hands in their mouths? Don’t be fooled, I’m sure my pullover is only to cover up the fact that I’m still in my pajamas. And my hair? If I recall correctly, it looked like this from 2004-2009. These were hard times.

Dear 26 year old Self,

I can’t believe you have 2 kids. How are you doing this?! You’re practically a baby. I know you think you’re failing at a lot of things like organizing your house, and dressing your kids in season appropriate clothing, and well, personal hygiene. I’m here to tell you it’s ok. I’m here to tell you you’re 35 now and you are still failing at those things. Hygiene has definitely moved up on the list so go ahead and count that as a win for everyone. But here’s the thing about your 35 year old self, she’s more ok with not having it together. Aren’t you relieved? You’re evolving and it’s good.

Can I tell you something? You ARE doing a good job. Your kids know you love them and they love you too. You are so much stronger and braver than you know. You have it inside of you. You will not always feel weary and ragged. You won’t live each day merely surviving. I know you doubt a lot of things. You doubt yourself in almost every area of your life. Asking endless questions like, “Am I a good mom? Am I a good wife? Will my kids remember how much I yelled at them? Am I a good nurse? Am I supposed to be a nurse? What am I doing? Will they ever stop needing my help? Am I teaching them about Jesus enough? Am I instilling values in these little people? Will they always want snacks every minute of every day? Do I feed them too much junk? Do they watch too much TV? Will they ever not want dinner?” And on and on it goes. These questions plague you. Every. Single. Day.

Take a breath. I know you’re in the weeds now but it won’t always be this way. When Kyle asks if you need to go out and have some time alone, say yes. Every time, say yes. If he doesn’t ask, then tell him you need some time alone. He knows you are an introvert by nature and need time away so take it. Communicate. Let people help you. Quit trying to act like you have it all together. And for the love, go to counseling already. You need it. I promise it will change your life and your marriage. Yes, you’re going to cry the ugly cry while you’re there but do it anyway. You will grow and it will be hard. It will also be empowering. Do it.

I’m going to wrap up because somewhere there is a child who needs you to feed him or wipe his bottom. It’s ok. It won’t be this way forever. At 35, they won’t even tell you when they go poop, they just go. I know, your brain just exploded. So don’t lose heart sweet, young self. Relax. And try not to curse the old ladies at Target that tell you to “cherish every moment” or “it’s over in the blink of an eye.” Just bless their hearts and move on because you’ve still got more errands to run. You are running a good race, sweet girl. Keep going.

Love,

Your 35 year old Self

P.S. You color your hair now and wear a lot of cardigans. Just thought you should know.

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