April Jeppson: Wow, am I prepared to parent a teenager?

Published 8:45 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

My son turned 13 this week. With all of the hubbub I made over my own birthday, I wasn’t paying attention to my son’s important milestone. Sure 40 is a big one, but so is 13. Do you remember what you were doing when you were 13? I do, and it scares the crap out of me that my son is now at this age.

April Jeppson

I was a good kid. I really was. Ask my folks, they’ll corroborate. But at 13 I had my first kiss. At 13 I snuck out of my friend’s house at night so we could meet up with a group of boys that were also having a slumber party. I didn’t do anything crazy, but I was starting to. I was starting to stretch. I was starting to test my boundaries and figure out who I was.

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A lot of growth starts to happen at this age. I want to be the kind of parent that allows my child to figure out who they are. As much as I want to protect my children from all the hurt and hardship of growing up, I know that I can’t keep them in bubble wrap forever.

Parenting is such a hindsight is 20/20 game. You can read all the books, talk to friends, pray and you’ll still never know if you did a good job. Years can go by and you still may never know. There have been moments in my life where I pause and appreciate my parents. I didn’t fully realize all they did for me until I had to change a diaper in the middle of the night, comfort an angry toddler or use the phrase “because I said so!”

Like I said, I was an easy kid, but kids in general are not easy. It’s a lot of work to be a decent parent. Try to keep your cool, get the laundry done, get them to school on time, make sure they brush their teeth, feed them something that has some nutritional value in it. Then you have to teach them life skills and emotional coping mechanisms — it’s a lot of work.

My son is 13. He’s creative and funny and loves to talk and share his ideas. He still wants to spend time with me and uses both his arms to hug me with. When I drop him off at school he makes sure to tell me that he loves me, even when I’m distracted and forget. Last night we were watching a movie, and he asked if he could snuggle with me. I wrapped my arms around him as he laid his head on my shoulder and I just melted.

I know that he’ll start pushing his boundaries. I’m prepared for him to lie to me and try to sneak out of the house. I say I’m prepared, but I know that it’ll knock the wind out of me. I’m trying really hard to live in the moment and appreciate all the good I have right now, because I know there will be days ahead that aren’t so awesome. I love you Hans, and I pray that I can be the mother that you need me to be.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.