I saw a post on social media the other day that showed a picture of a coffee mug. The mug read, “Teenage daughter survivor.”

It was a hugely popular post—thousands of likes and hundreds of shares.

And I get it. I really do. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart or mind or will (or wallet). It’s hard. It matters so much. There’s no manual. There’s no guaranteed formula for “success”. And I’m the first to admit I have no idea how gut-wrenching it is for a lot of parents. I know I could still be one of those parents someday.

But here’s the thing: I want to do so much more than just survive my kids’ teenage years. I don’t want to just make it through them. I want to make the most of them, because I know full well that for every comment about the “torturous teen years” (another actual post that was just as popular as that mug picture), there’s an equal number of posts from parents lamenting that they’re having to let their older kids go.

When my next letting-go time comes, I want to know that I did more, most days, than merely endure.

I want to cherish these years when my children are still living under my roof and sleeping in their beds and eating my food . . . but are otherwise managing much of their own lives quite nicely.

I want to store up as many memories as I can cram into the bank.

I want to watch in wonder as things my children once liked to do turn into passions they never want to stop doing.

I want to see stories come full circle.

I want to have deep conversations.

I want to honor big moments.

I want to appreciate small moments on ordinary days.

I want to keep feeding relationships.

I want to let go of things that don’t matter and hold tight to things that do.

I want to celebrate accomplishments that everyone can see and many more that almost no one else sees.

I want to look back with gratitude and forward with hope.

I want to know I did not take the gift of these years for granted.

I’ve already got enough mugs to survive a worldwide china shortage, but if I ever get another one, I’d want it to say, “I ❤️ my teenager.” Because the love I have for my teens is not something I have to get through; it’s something I’m holding onto, always.


This article originally appeared on Guilty Chocoholic Mama


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Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.