Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

I expected the sighs and the eye-rolls and the closed bedroom doors. After all, I was a teenager once, too, and I remember how I treated my parents.

I have managed the exhaustion of incredibly early high school wakeups and late-night texts letting me know they are ready to be picked up and running them all over the countryside for school events and sports and volunteering.

I am trying to deal with the stress and the worry that comes with raising big kids who look like adults but still have so much growing up and life-learning to do.

But what nobody told me about this time, what I never anticipated about these teenage years, was how much I could love them.

Sure, raising a teenager in today’s world is challenging. There is so much pressure on our kids to succeed while their hormones are surging and their brains are still developing.

They can lash out, overreact and then enact the silent treatment so quickly that it makes your head spin. Trust me, with three teenagers under my roof, I’ve seen it all. Anyone who has been through it knows it is the hardest stage yet.

But let me share a little secret, friends, about this difficult stage, this time when your baby is trying to break free from your grasp, when your fledgling is trying to fly the nest: it’s my favorite.

Yes, you heard me right. These teenage years? They can be the best yet.

Because this is the time we sit on the couch late into the night and talk for hours about life. I confess my adolescent mistakes with my daughters and why I don’t want them to repeat them; they share their hopes and their dreams, and we talk about how they could get there.

Because this is the time we watch my favorite old movies like “Pretty in Pink” or “The Breakfast Club” with tubs of popcorn sitting in our laps, and they love the exact same lines that I did at their age. We can read the same books and go to fancy restaurants and watch the same shows. I torture them with my music, they torture me with theirs.

Because this is the time they start developing opinions about life and they challenge me to see things differently. This is the time I see the enormous depth of their hearts and the vast potential of their young minds, their wicked sense of humor and their quick wit. This is the time when they know how to do stuff and take care of things, even though they often choose not to do it.

Because this is the stage I can be there for them—I mean, really be there for them, unconditionally.

I can help mend broken hearts and manage disappointments and build confidence and pour so much love into them they never forget their self-worth. I am still their parent, but we are also starting to build a friendship I cherish.

Because this is the time I get to see the people they are becoming while still seeing my past. I get a front-row seat to watch my own fuzzy caterpillar turn into a butterfly seemingly overnight.

Now, if you are in the thick of it like I am, don’t think my kids are any different than yours. These teenage years are hard, perhaps even the hardest ones, in this raising kids program.

But nobody talks about how much you can love these years, either. Nobody tells you how lovely it is to watch your kids transform into adults right before your eyes, how your relationship will develop into something beautiful, how even though you miss your baby, the man or woman you raised who is standing before you will make your heart swell until it feels like it will burst. And, well, this new stage can be pretty amazing, too.

Because even though I sometimes think these teenage years may break me—like I felt all the stages before this might have, too—well, they are my favorite.

At least until whatever comes next.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

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.

Moms Are the Real Christmas MVPs

In: Motherhood
Mom and little girl looking at Christmas tree

Browsing through shelves of holiday books in the children’s section of the library, I am reminded of the CD my mom checked out from the library every holiday season. It was the Alvin and The Chipmunks version of all the classic Christmas songs. We would listen to that CD in the car all season long. Alvin and his buddies, Theodore and Simon, would belt out the Christmas classics we all know and love, but in their squeaky little chipmunk voices. It became a favorite tradition for my sister and me. Since this isn’t the ’90s and cars nowadays don’t have...

Keep Reading

What I Know For Sure About Having a Tween

In: Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Tween close up of braces on teeth

They all say it’s coming. I have an inkling it might be true. Yet I’m holding on–I’m believing the same things that worked when you were a little girl, will work during the tween years too.  Some of my methods might need tweaking, but the principles are the same. When you’re upset, you’ll still want to be held. It just might take you a little longer to realize it. When your feelings are hurt, you’ll still want to be heard. I might not have as many answers, but I can still offer my listening ears. RELATED: The Secret to Parenting...

Keep Reading

Don’t Fear the Gap

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Baby lying on mother's chest, black-and-white photo

I was afraid of the gap. You know, the one where you have some kids and then wait several years to have another? That gap. When we moved here, we kept all the baby things because we weren’t ready to say we were done but weren’t ready to start over. Moving to the farm brought wayyy more chores than our neighborhood home and adding a tiny human to that mix felt a bit crazy. RELATED: I’ll Always Want Another Baby There were months of back and forth . . . talk of barefoot baby feet stomping all over this place...

Keep Reading

The Magic of Having Kids Who Still Believe in Santa Is Worth the Christmas Chaos

In: Motherhood
Kids looking at Elf on the Shelf toy

Our elves showed up sometime in the night between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, just as they have every year for the last seven.  All three of our kids had been excited for their arrival, but we noticed our oldest was especially eager this year.  “Our elves come this month!” he announced on November 1, eyes twinkling with anticipation. He counted down nearly every night after, and once they finally showed up we found him in the corner talking to them several times throughout the day.  “How was the trip from the North Pole?” “Man, I’ve sure missed you guys.” “What...

Keep Reading

It’s Exhausting Being a Teacher and a Mom in the Month of December

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom and two kids smiling by Christmas tree

I absolutely love Christmas. In fact, I start listening to Christmas music right after Halloween. I’m always itching to put decorations up as soon as my other family members are willing. I love the magic of the season, the giving and the meaning behind all of it. By the time November begins, I’m ready to take on the holidays in full force as both a teacher and a mom. If I’m being honest though, Christmas as a teacher mama is both magical and downright exhausting. There are parties for both my own children and my students. There are gifts to...

Keep Reading

Being a Working Mom When Kids Get Sick Is Complicated

In: Living, Motherhood
Mom holding baby on couch

I didn’t know what my ringtone sounded like until I went back to work after maternity leave. “You know it’s always on silent,” I would say every time I missed a call from my husband. “What’s the point of having a phone if you never answer your calls?” “Who calls these days? Text me like a normal person!” It was a circular conversation, lighthearted, and not intended to bring about change. He will always prefer to call, and I will always prefer to keep my ringer off. But when I got my first early pickup text from my daycare provider...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, If Something Feels Off, It Probably Is—Trust Your Intuition

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Mother and daughter black and white photo

A few weeks ago, my 7-year-old daughter was playing at a friend’s house when she messaged me on her game tablet to come pick her up. I didn’t ask why I just went to get her. I asked her once she was home how it was, and she told me she had a weird feeling and she was just “trusting her guts,” which I loved hearing her say. Apparently, her friend had a bunch of extended family show up at the house that we were unaware of. She is extremely outgoing, friendly, and confident so she thought nothing of listening...

Keep Reading

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading