I’m the mom of teenagers, and I thought I’d be better at this by now.

I thought I would learn how to keep my house clean and my cupboards organized and my counters uncluttered. Yet, here I sit at 9 p.m., with dishes in my sink and this morning’s coffee cup still on the table.

After being a mom for more than 14 years, I should have this meal planning thing down to a science—and remember that yes, my family wants to eat every single night. But we made breakfast for dinner tonight with a box of Bisquick and freezer-burned bacon, and I’m hopeful we have enough food in our house to scrape together lunches in the morning for three growing kids.

I thought by now I would be smart enough to put the laundry I started in the morning into the dryer when I got home that night or take those boxes that have been sitting in my hallway to Goodwill or return those pillows to Target because I didn’t really need them anyway. But all those things sit waiting for me to do something with them. Again.

I figured I would have found the patience to not yell at my kids when they left their dishes in the sink or dropped their muddy soccer cleats in front of the door or draped a wet towel over the banister. Most days, however, the words come out before I can stop them.

After working part-time since the birth of my kids, I thought I would have found work-life balance, that I wouldn’t need to finish projects long after my family went to bed or sometimes before anyone woke. But my to-do list keeps growing while the time I can focus on it shrinks.

I’ve been a mom a long time, and most days, I still have no idea what I’m doing, sometimes even less so than when I was a new mom with three babies. Shouldn’t I have it all together by now?

But I’ve learned that while I’m not always good at the housework or the organization or staying calm or finding balance, we’ve still done OK. More than OK I think my kids would say.

I should have all the confidence in the world as a mother, but yet I still sometimes get consumed by what I didn’t do on any given day, how I failed my husband and my kids, how I could have finished one more task. 

I’m the mother of teenagers, and I should be better at this by now.

Not too long in the future, I won’t have so many clothes to wash or meals to make or messes to clean up. My house will be organized and my evenings free. I’ll have time to focus on my work and may even remember to switch the laundry out the first time I hear the beep.

And I hope when I look back at this chaotic, messy, unorganized time when my home was the center of my children’s world—even if I think I could have done better–they know that I did the best that I could.

You may also like:

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My Kids Are Growing Up, But I’m Still a New Mom

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Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.