Dear teenage years

Dear teenage years,

I see you coming, closer and closer with each passing day. But now you are no longer a thing on the horizon or a season that is years away. Suddenly you’re the next exit, ten miles out, close enough to count down.

We’re 22 days from having a teenager in our family.

There’s a lot to unpack in the statement. That means we’ve been parents for almost 13 years. It means we are nearing other milestones- like high school, driving, first jobs, graduation. I know you bring a lot of excitement and newness to our dear boy’s world, but I resent your arrival.

It’s not because my own teen years were bad. (They weren’t.)

It’s not because this is our first time living with teens (It’s not. And trust me, I can smell weed across the house, know where to buy a breathalyzer, and am not intimidated by the idea of testing urine for drugs. And there is nowhere that dear almost teen could hide something in his room that his dad would not find it in a quick minute. We took the crash course in parenting teens, that’s for sure.)

It’s not because I think teenagers are horrible, moody, lazy, and will inevitably hate their parents. No, not any of that. I know lots of teens who defy those stereotypes.  It’s actually quite the opposite.

I am quietly mourning this step into the teenage years because it feels like a transition, a major shift, and a big step closer to the day when we don’t travel the same path any more. And though I know that it was our job all along to love, encourage, and prepare this boy to take on the world, I did not anticipate that he would become such a significant part of my world.

This boy- this tall and witty firstborn of ours- he has become so pleasant and so fun to have here. He leads his siblings well. He serves use all wholeheartedly. He is thoughtful and wise, discerning and funny. And while I know that you will increase the things we can share (movies, books, tough conversations, interests), I also know that when you leave, he will most likely go, too.

I know I can’t stop you from coming, teenage years. I know you have a lot to offer and teach my boy, but he won’t be a boy much longer. And it’s harder for me to pretend that’s not true when you are knocking on the front door.

So here we stand, at the threshold of the teens. These are the years we planned for, hoped for, built for. These are the years he can drive himself, crack inside jokes, ask good questions, and begin to hear God’s voice in regards to the direction of his future. These are the days where we get to test these strong bridges that we’ve built between us.

I guess it’s best that I make peace with you, you infamous teenage years. Once our first hits thirteen, we will be living in a house with a teen for 17 years. So this isn’t a short season or a small phase. In the way that it felt funny to not be the parent of a baby any longer, we will step into this new place of being people with teens. And we’ll be here quite awhile.

What do I want from you? I want you to be gentle, gracious, kind, and easy on my poor guy. He has such a tender heart and a kindness about him, and you aren’t known for celebrating those qualities, are you? But in reality, I want you to be a season of growth and shaping, a time where he finds more and more who he is meant to be and what it is that truly brings him joy.

And when you leave, I want my boy to love Jesus more on that day than he did when you arrived.

I guess we’re partners then, you and us. You are his new season, and we are his old guides.

Welcome to our family, teenage years.  Take your coat off, find a corner to call your own, and settle in to this noisy house. We may not quite know best how to navigate all the baggage you’ve brought along, but we will face it with the fierce love, the raw honesty, and the stores of grace that have not failed us yet.

Bring it on-

G & B

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