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Parenting Is Hard Work

It's not all rainbows and roses, but it’s not all angst and anger either.

By Cecily Creighton

I live in a lively house. It is often loud, always active and someone is always missing something when it’s time to run out the door. Never fails. Last summer, when my twins, ("the babies” as we called them for the first 7 or 8 years of their lives), turned 13 I realized I was entering a new era in our home. I would be raising four teenagers for the next several years and I didn’t really know what to expect.

It is challenging at times. I am definitely driving more than I ever did before as their interests, and friends, and appointments increasingly vary. We struggle to find a balance between asking them to pitch in more around the house and making sure they have plenty of time for academics that will affect their futures. The oldest sometimes pushes my buttons and I find myself feeling like I’m in an episode of Family Ties as she stomps, a la Mallory, up the stairs. I have THREE daughters, so at least four nights of the week, one or the other needs to have a talk about something. These are not giant upheavals, but usually rather quiet tears. Listening. Hugs. Tissues, smoothing of hair, gentle suggestions, more hugs, deep breaths, and usually they feel better and it’s off to bed. My son is easy. Funny, but guarded, and it can be hard to get him to open up. He is a picky eater, but as he hits what looks to be a HUGE growth spurt, that is getting better all the time.

It's not all rainbows and roses, but it’s not all angst and anger either. Parenting is hard work. There are tough days and there are great ones, and lots of the time we are too busy to notice which is which. But it is the times that we do notice that I find are the most delightful. A glimpse of pure gold that keeps us hanging on for the next one.

A few weeks ago, I had to work so my husband took my kids out for dinner. Since all the limbs are getting rather long, he sat in his own booth and had a ball as he watched all four of them laugh and talk and show each other memes until he finally dragged them out of the hamburger joint. He came home still basking in the golden glow to tell me all about it. Then, the other night, we wanted to show them a movie from our all-time favorites list. My husband went up to announce tonight’s feature, but he came back down and said “Not tonight, you should hear how much they are laughing up there.” I forget that he is at work all day and doesn’t always get to see how much the kids actually like each other.

Is it because we homeschool? Is it because we moved a few times, so they have learned to rely on each other? Can they possibly understand how precious this time is and that in a few short years they will all scatter to college and beyond? Whatever the reasons, we are thankful that our teens are pals. The other day I ran upstairs to find my oldest daughter reading to the other kids. Another golden moment that helps make all the harder, messy moments worth it.

I know this time is fleeting. I know it won’t last much longer. My “babies” are turning 14 tomorrow. My oldest is 18, so I know how fast the time goes. I know how much worry and struggle lies ahead. But for now, and for always, for these teenagers that call me mom and consume my days, I am thankful.

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