Tots vs. Teens: Different Kinds of Grateful

Tots vs. Teens: Different Kinds of Grateful

I have loved reading Kelly Konrad's blog, LitzyDitz, for almost exactly two years now. She generally writes about books (and makes great recommendations!), but, on occasion, she'll write about parenting and every time she does I find myself wishing that I could be as wise, eloquent and funny as she is.

We both love college basketball and March Madness in particular, so it seemed very appropriate that her blog about gratitude at different stages of parenting reminded me of my favorite quote from Jim Valvano because it made me laugh, cry and think. I'm really grateful to be able to share her and it with you today.

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Do you ever catch yourself thinking, “Thank Jeebus there was no Facebook when I was a teen and in my 20s?”

That’s me. My kids would look at me in a completely different light if they saw half the crap I did when I was at college. Good times.

I feel the same way about blogs. Blogging as a virtual diary of sorts didn’t really exist when my teens were tots—I had to rely on old-fashioned pen and paper to sort out my feelings, saving them for I-don’t-know-what. Most likely an embarrassing public reading at either my funeral or my sentencing for some child-induced transgression. (“It’s right here in her journal, judge. A woman can only change so many wet bed sheets before she snaps and throws a jar of Nutella out her kitchen window. She didn’t mean to strike the old lady walking her dog.”)

So it’s with “been there, done that” humor that I enjoy my friends’ “Mommy Blogs” and angst that I don’t spend much time blogging about my teens. I have three of them—13, 17 and 18 (almost 19)—and it’s an awkward virtual space we navigate. For as much joy as I find in my relationship with them, there have been some incredibly tough times, too. And I respect their privacy as teens too much to open them up to potential embarrassment.

I suspect a lot of bloggers with kids this age are in the same boat, hence, the lack of teen parenting blogs. Sure, it’s my journey, too. And some stories would make for some fantastic clickbait. But I think as we—my kids and I—continue down this singular path that is going to fork altogether too soon, the key to its success is going to be to focus on the positive. With that in mind, it’s the little things I am grateful for this season. Same things, but different reasons. For example:

Meals: When they were tots, you were glad when they used a fork properly. When they were a tween you were grateful when they weren’t digging it into their little sister’s arm. Now? To have my teens around the table at all is reason to rejoice. Soccer and swim practices, part time jobs, social lives and studying often get in the way, and to see seats filled really does make one grateful.

Books: When they were tots, you were grateful for the time and energy to read that bedtime story. Today, I am grateful to read with, instead of to, my kids. To talk about the books we enjoy, to give differing opinions on plot points, to make recommendations you know they’ll enjoy.

Movies: As much as I still love Pixar and was grateful to discover Nemo, Buzz and “Monsieur Incroyable!” with my tots and tweens, I’m so grateful for the times we can sit down and watch something more age appropriate and enjoyable for everyone these days. Like “Saw.” Just kidding. I will say this, though—“Better Off Dead” and “Napolean Dynamite” have both stood the test of time as something silly and stupid and still fun now that I can watch it with my own teens.

Fashion: When they were tots, I was always grateful for the sale rack at BabyGap. It was just a few weeks ago I got a little verklempt when my daughter announced we were DONE with GapKids. (The Gap is gonna be sad, too, when I think about how much I’ve spent there in 18 years.) Now? I’m grateful my kids aren’t fashion plates and I try to respect the occasional eclectic choice. AND that no one thinks assless chaps are appropriate for school.

Yakety-yak: Oh, to be grateful for that first word. Then grateful for the sullen tween silence after years of gabby gab gabbing. Then, as teens, to be grateful they still talk to you at all. It could just be a couple of words in the morning before they’re out the door, or maybe five minutes before they go to bed, but, as my middle child asked me last week if he was making the right choice regarding a personal decision, I was just so incredibly grateful my kids still talk to me. Not because they have to, but because they want to.

Time: Listen up, people. These years we actively parent can sometimes feel like they’ll never end. Temper tantrums, bad grades, food aversions, toilet training trouble, bad dreams, tough decisions, mean teachers … but they will end. It’s over before you know it. I still climb in bed with my 13-year-old daughter to cuddle, and try to sneak in snuggles when I can with my older boys. When I look at my youngest and think, “All I’ve got is five years left before she’s off to …” I can’t even finish the sentence. That’s it? Just five years? It’s going to feel like five minutes. Time. I’m grateful for every minute. The good, the bad, the ugly.

Grateful.

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You can find Kelly at LitzyDitz, where she says "if I can help you find the 2, 3, or 4 books a year you may have time for, I consider that mission accomplished." She also shared great thoughts on life and parenting away from the literary scene.

I'd be grateful if you would give the LitzyDitz Facebook page a like, but I bet you'll be the one thanking me because she shares very funny stuff in addition to great book info.

Please also feel more than invited to like Tween Us on Facebook, too, while you're at it.

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