My phone says its 10 p.m. 

For years this meant freedom for me. 

I’d wait in anticipation for 10 p.m. all evening. I could read in peace, or maybe I would crash. Not to be bothered again for eight hours if I was lucky. 

Since you hit the teen years, 10:00 means something different.

You come alive when the clock strikes bedtime. As much as I’ve tried to train you to sleep well and prepare your brain and body for a good night’s sleep, your mind is wide awake. 

With our devices on do not disturb this late at night, I admit I like that your attention has no one to turn to but me. 

When you get out of school, your answers are full of fine, huh?, sure, and OKno matter how inventive I try to be with the conversation. 

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I know it’s hard to imagine, but I remember those days. You’re exhausted from school, and all you want to do is talk with your friends and listen to music before a full evening of sports and homework begins. 

I no longer try to force you into family time just to be rewarded with a strained relationship. 

Your life right now revolves around your friends, and I’m happy for you. 

But lately, we have our nights—10 p.m. 

As I come to tuck you into bed, even as a teenager, with your siblings fast asleep, you open up. 

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You tell me all about your day, your friends, the drama of school, what you really think of your teachers, what makes you laugh, what’s worrying you, what’s not. 

You unknowingly answer all my questions about your life. And then some.

All I have to do it sit there. Listen to you. Be your encourager. 

I watch your face turning into the adult you’ll be in four, short years.

I think back to 14 years ago when I held you at 10 p.m. trying to get you to fall asleep. I try to find your baby face in this adolescent face. 

And now, I lay with you on your bed, trying to get you to fall asleep by letting you talk your day and worries away. 

This unexpected gift of time you’re giving me. 

Sometimes you make me laugh so hard I wish for a short time I was a teenager again. 

Then you remind me quickly of the burdens you carry at such a young age, and I pray for you before insisting you try to sleep. 

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Six a.m. will come quickly. We’ll go back to passing each other in the darkened hallway. The last thing you’ll want to do is talk at 6 a.m. Morning person, you are not.

You’ll come home from school with nothing to say to me. You might spend the evening in your room or cancel plans we had in order to spend time with your friends. 

Maybe you’ll be angry with me for some unknown teenager thing. 

But I know 10:00 will come around. 

And I’ll hold onto these late nights for as long as I can because just like rocking you in my arms and holding your hand didn’t last long, 10:00 won’t last long either. 

Jen Smith

Jen writes at Grace for Single Parents to encourage single moms to live their best life with God’s grace and love. She’s a contributing author for Her View from Home, Grown & Flown, and Sammiches & Psych Meds. She currently lives in Kansas with her two teenagers and two dogs.