My husband is at work right now, and I’m sitting in my pajamas feeling all shades of guilt. In theory, I’m home “parenting” the “children.”

But what I’m really doing is “whatever the heck I feel like,” because our kids are now 11 and 14 and they barely know I’m in the house. While Eric slaves away with airplane doodads and gewgaws, I’m drinking coffee in his reading chair.

Look: here’s photographic proof of parenting a 14 year old girl the first week of summer:

parenting teens during summer
That lump under the blanket is a woman-child who could literally survive in this house for days and days without me, provided the wi-fi keeps running and the cupboards have food she recognizes.

Her 11-year old brother just thumped in and out of the house about four times. Where is he going? I have no idea. What’s he doing? No clue. He keeps returning alive, though, so I’m not worried.

This is a remarkable contrast to ten years ago, when every summer day lasted precisely 120 hours. Audrey would wake me up at sunrise every morning, demanding a list of the day’s activities. “Mama, do now? Do now, Mama?” And then Caleb would poop his pants at exactly that moment, all before 6am.

By 10am we’d played every game, splashed in the kiddie pool, and crossed the street to the park. And we still had ten more hours to fill until bedtime. By noon I was praying for the rapture. By dinner time I’d lost the will to live.

Somehow we all muddled through, and ten years later the whole situation is completely unrecognizable. Now Audrey and I have long and loud discussions about whether her ten besties will be allowed to come on our family summer vacation (no they will NOT) and I threaten to throw Caleb’s devices under the back wheels of the van.

The ease of this whole situation has me unnerved. I feel like I should be doing something far more productive with them, but mostly I feel like it’s been a long school year and we all need some time to do nothing. (Except for Eric, who really needs to keep working so we can eat and stuff.) We’ve done algebra until our brains exploded, we’ve made lunches and done chores and completed vocab packets. We played tennis and practiced instruments and drove back and forth to the school a million times. We went to two youth groups and studied the book of Acts until we know the apostles like family.

The kids need a break. Eric and I need time to stare at the ceiling and contemplate our life choices.

And also, the future looms before me. This might be our last summer like this, bored out of our minds together. It won’t be long before both kids are working, driving, and living their own lives. I’ll probably need to get some sort of full-time job to pay for college tuition.

It’s all going to change soon. I don’t fear the changes; it’s time for the kids to experience all life has to offer. They’ll need our support in completely new ways, ways that don’t demand 6am diaper changes or transportation to a friend’s house.

I think we’re all ready for what’s coming, but for now, we have this summer. Negotiating over screen time and whether ten extra teenagers can join us in California in August (no they CANNOT), for three solid months.

I love this time of life. I cherish it. And I hope you cherish your summer, too.

(Unless you’re the mother of littles, then just hope for survival.)

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3 Comments on Parenting Teens: Summer Edition

  1. lardavbern
    June 16, 2017 at 10:30 am (6 months ago)

    This sounds very familiar as our kids are in the same age group. I often make them sit in the same room as me even if they are on some device as I work. It’s still sort of together time.
    Anyway, I’m glad your enjoying your current situation. Some day you’ll long for it, so it’s good to enjoy it now.

  2. Jessica Morgan Clemence
    June 16, 2017 at 10:43 am (6 months ago)

    I still don’t miss those really early years, the ones everyone told me I’d miss. Who misses tantrums in the grocery store? But this is a pretty good age.

    I hope you guys have a great summer!

  3. David
    June 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm (6 months ago)

    Theoretically John is still at Sixth Form College until mid-July, but this evening he told us he will be finished next Wednesday. Ideally, at seventeen, he would have a job. He doesn’t. Unless sleeping late and watching comedy box sets (currently the US version of The Office) is a job.

    John is learning to drive (minimum age is 17 in UK). I made him fill the car at the petrol station the other day. He hadn’t realised that it costs £40 to fill a Ford Focus with fuel in this country. Realisation then dawned that perhaps he might need some form of official employment before being able to think about having a vehicle. These are some of our problems, with one left at home and he just three years older than Audrey!

    Don’t ask about remote management of a 21-year old with toothache who lives 40 miles away.