Does that sound terrifying? I suppose it could be! But it hasn't been.
It's been awesome.
And the four-teenager-run is about to come to end, never to happen in our family again (we will miss it by about 10 months with the last four kids).
I have to say, I'm a little sorry to see it go. Before we had teenagers, when we were in the throes of diapers and tantrums and toys underfoot constantly and no sleep and chasing toddlers and general exhaustion, everyone said "Oh, just wait till you have teenagers!", with an air of impending doom.
But people, I'm here to tell you: there has been no doom impended upon us, only joy*. Having teenagers has been a learning experience, to be sure. I've learned:
- how funny my children are! I never dreamed these little people we created would make me laugh so. dang. much. They crack me up with their crazy voices and accents and commentaries. Regardless of what we're doing, their antics are likely to have me in tears.
- to change my dinner table expectations. Dinner at our house is a sight to behold. Some kids are stealthily feeding the dog, other kids are asking philosophical questions, others are laughing with a sibling across the table and others might be simply talking louder than the sib next to them. It's loud and crazy and fabulous.
- to appreciate them for who they are. As the kids get older, their perspectives are becoming more pronounced, and I am learning to embrace how they think and look at life. My husband and I continue to shape, teach and direct them, but more and more they are making decisions on their own. It's been so lovely to watch them turn into independent young people.
- how grateful I am. Every day, every moment is a gift. When the kids were young, I often felt like I was lucky to be keeping my head above water. Now, though life is at full tilt all the time, it's different. I am able now, because I see the end of the family years looming ahead of us, to better appreciate all the beauty I see in front of me. Every vacation, holiday, game night, and special dinner feels weightier to me. While I always knew my children were a blessing, as they get older, I more fully see the gifts that they are to us.
Next month, my eldest daughter will turn 20, and a new era of parenting will be upon us; parenting young adults. A new set of skills will be required of us. It's always hard for me to let go and accept change, but at the same time, I'm excited about this next chapter ahead too. The last 20 years have been full of joy and blessings, and I know God will continue to give us just what we need in the years to come.
*Well, okay, not 100% joy all the time, because they are still indeed humans, and therefore tend to be peskily sinful.