I stopped at the neighborhood grocery store for my quick mid-week stock-up.

You know, just the essentials to get us through until the weekend when I do my BIG Costco trip.

As the checker beeped items across the scanner, he surveyed my stash.

“You havin’ a party?”

I glanced at the items on the conveyor belt.

Four gallons of milk, six boxes of cereal (it was on sale), a gigantic bunch of bananas, granola bars, the big bag of clementines, four loaves of bread, several family-sized bags of chips.

I smiled and replied, “No, I just feed a lot of teenagers.”

I loaded bags into the trunk and drove home to stock the pantry and the fridge. Then set out to pick up all the kids from school.

And I just couldn’t stop smiling.

I LOVE having bigger kids.

What a lovely surprise!

I never imagined anything could fill my heart like chubby little cheeks and diapered little bottoms and drooly little smiles and teeny little feet covered in footed pajamas.

Then my crew hopped in the car.

My five kids plus two extra teenagers who come every afternoon before basketball practice.

“Hey guys! How was your day?”

And it begins.

Every day it’s the same thing . . . 

They bicker and argue and tease and laugh and share memes and poke fun at each other, and our car is loaded down with jackets and bookbags and basketball gear and kids carrying homework and phones and STUFF.

We pull into the garage and they all pushed their way inside the house to head for the pantry (six boxes of cereal will be gone in three days).

They do homework and laugh around the table and play basketball out back and spin the little kids in the living room, and my house is filled with noise and basketballs bouncing and laughter and teasing and FUN.

Sometimes the whole crew plays UNO around our kitchen table. And it is just as sweet as teeny little feet covered in footed pajamas.

Having teenagers is SO FUN!

Sure, it’s HARD. And weird. And frustrating. And absolutely exhausting.

I basically live in my car now.

And their eye-rolling and boundary-pushing and annoyed sighs and incessant bickering and angry replies constantly test my limits.

But I promise . . . 

It is SO MUCH FUN, too.

Sometimes I miss chubby little cheeks and diapered little bottoms and drooly little smiles.

It’s true.

But then last night, as I drove home from basketball practice with my 6-foot-tall son, he reached over and handed me one side of his earbuds.

“Hey Mom, listen to this song.”

So, we leaned our heads together, and I ignored the vulgar language and really LISTENED to the words. The message. The beat.

Then I said something super lame like, “That’s catchy! I love it!”

But mostly I just LOVED that moment.

There.

With him.

My teenager.

I’m telling you, my heart was SO FULL.

Big kids are such a lovely surprise!

This post originally appeared on Ordinary on Purpose, by Mikala Albertson

Mikala Albertson

I’m Mikala. I married my high school sweetheart almost 17 years ago and I’m a (mostly) stay-at-home Family Practice doctor raising four boys and a little girl. I write about the simple, everyday, ordinary events of my life’s journey because I think LIFE happens in the ordinary (and even awful and chaotic!). I try so hard to just be ordinary, on purpose.