Walking around the mall recently, I could not help but notice all the babies and toddlers. There were sweet tiny newborns snuggled close to their mom’s chests in Baby Bjorn carriers. There were chubby-cheeked babies being pushed in strollers and toddlers on foot just beginning to navigate the world on their own, yet still just inches away from their moms.
Seeing all of these little ones sometimes makes me pine for the days when my three children were small. I miss when their little hands fit so perfectly into mine.
But there are many things about being the mother of teen that I really appreciate. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, here are 10 reasons I am happy to be the parent of a teenager:
1. No worries about waking up a sleeping baby
I am not quite sure how the phrase “Sleeping like a baby” gained its popularity. After all, everyone knows most babies do not sleep very well- at least not at night. Teens are a different story. Nothing wakes a sleeping teenager. Not doorbells, phone calls, or even shouting their names at the top of your lungs.
2. They are potty-trained
I do miss the smell of a baby right after their bath when they are swaddled in their towel like a human burrito. But I do not miss the smell of poopy diapers- especially when you are stuck on a long car ride on a hot summer day.
3. You can take them to a restaurant and finish an appetizer, main course, and a dessert
Years ago, I went to dinner with my then 8-month-old and a friend who then had no children. She asked so many questions about the menu that by the time the 1st course arrived I was standing in the parking lot with my wailing infant. Gone are the days that I have to gulp down my food while standing and rocking (or nursing.)
4. No more Barney, Wiggles, or Teletubbies
Oh Barney- you saved me many early mornings when my kids would wake up at the crack of dawn and the coffee wasn’t brewed yet. While I have fond memories of seeing Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street Live, I cannot say I miss watching these shows or listening to the Wiggles classic “Fruit Salad” over and over again.
5. Less colds, flus and dreaded stomach viruses
When my kids were in preschool, they were germ magnets. If something was going around, it was coming to my house. I saw more of my pediatrician those years than my husband. Runny noses, ear infections and croup that always hit in the middle of the night- these are a few of my not so favorite things.
6. They always give an honest opinion
“Mirror, mirror on the wall- do these pants make my butt look big?” You don’t need a talking mirror when you have a teen. While sales people may lie to you, teens have no problem telling you what you are wearing is unflattering, uncool or just plain ugly. And a compliment from a teen means your sweater really does look good, and it will probably be missing in a few days.
7. In-home tech support
They can fix the computer, download apps and educate you on the proper usage of emojis. Even my pre-teen son knows how to reboot my laptop and makes sure I have a not-so-embarrassing playlist on my iPod.
8. They can drive
The first few times my daughter drove the car alone, it was so scary. I would hold my breath until she texted (after parking and turning off the car) that she had arrived at her destination. But as the months passed and she gained more experience as a driver, it was nice not to have to chauffer her- especially late at night.
9. They can make you think
From current events to sports knowledge – my teens keep me on my toes. My pre-teen son was so vocal about the importance of voting the mid-term elections that I made sure to get to the polls. Listening to their opinions form on politics and world events is fascinating and has made me rethink some of my own views and opinions.
10. They can be really good company
I love taking my teens to Broadway shows and my husband has brought Bruce Springsteen their lives. In turn, they have introduced us to their interests and keep us “hip”, so that when Gavin DeGraw opened for Billy Joel, I knew what songs he sang and that he was not married to Gwen Stefani. You are still their parent, but in the words of Rick from Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”