The push and pull of raising older teens came to a head last night. We are a vacation family – meaning traveling and taking vacations is something we have chosen to prioritize with my kids their whole lives. Every year we take at least one big trip – in the past 10 years or so, it’s been to the Outer Banks in NC. It’s a solid 10+ hours away from home but we can rent a house big enough for our extended family. We alternate years between my family and the Hub’s family and we *love* these vacations. Grandparents, siblings, nieces and nephews – it’s a great way to reconnect at the beach.
Unless you’re 17, invited to 4 different college showcase camps all on the weekend we’re gone, and don’t want to go. Then, vacation is a battle.
And I get this, I do. I remember how BIG all my feelings were as a teen and missing these camps does suck. It does.
But we’re – all FOUR of us – are going on vacation. I try to be accommodating and flexible with my kids but this year? No. No way. Nope. This is our *last* full summer before Scorch goes to college and he’s going on this vacation even if I have to take him kicking and screaming. And we’re going to have fun, damn it!
…And once we do, I’ll come to terms with the fact that I don’t get to put my foot down for much longer. That my kids will make their own decision on how and where they want to spend their time – and I can really hope the lure of a free vacation means they spend that time with us. 😉
That’s kinda where I feel like I live right now. My kids, 17 and almost 15, were 4 and 2 when I started this blog. I was in the thick of things with a toddler and a preschooler. Days of sleeping in and going to bed when I want to and free time seemed like a mirage on the horizon. But, now here we are. Admittedly I’m not much for sleeping in – but these days I go to bed before my kids. My oldest drive himself and his sister to school every day. If we’re not in the middle of a sports season, the Hubs and I have free time. Oodles of it.
I’m still parenting every single day and I’m so thankful for that – but I’m not in the trenches like I was.
So…what do I write about? Who am I? Scorch is going to college in 14 months. The Bean will follow 2 year later. This past weekend we went out on TWO date nights with friends- one of which Scorch and his friends joined us on because…well, they could and we love their company.
I’ve lost my desire to document all the things because all the things aren’t universal like they were when the kids were little. Instead, the kids are teens going through their own shit and I’m a woman in my mid-40s going through my own shit. And instead of being able to share adorable anecdotes and memories, if I’m going to blog, I’m going to have to blog about *me*. And that’s scary.
But it also feels necessary because I feel like we (me??) need to talk about this stuff as much – or maybe even more – than we needed to talk about the hard part of raising little kids. Because in the midst of raising those little kids, we (me??) lose ourselves. We introduce ourselves as “Scorch’s / Bean’s Mom” instead of Heather. We put a lot of our lives on pause to help them live their best lives – and I’m so glad I had the luxury and ability to do so. And I’m even more glad that I don’t buy into that bullshit that parenting stops when your kid turns 18 – raising my kids is the greats privilege and joy in my life and that doesn’t end. Ever.
But- I have a lot more time on my hands now. I’m trying to figure out what the hell my marriage looks like when we’re both not ships passing in the night and as the Hubs is counting down the days till retirement. My body is going through this wild thing called perimenopause and it’s the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever had to deal with – for a solid week every month, I’m either raging or weeping and NOT ONE DOCTOR CARES.
So, hi. I’m Heather. I turn 45 this summer. I adore my husband and my kids. I read more trashy novels in a year than is probably healthy. I have the best family and friends I could ever ask for. I have a solid patch of grey at my temples that comes back no matter how often I dye it. I’m so excited to see what the next 5-10 years hold but I also want to freeze time so my kids stop growing. I own 3 cats and am trying sooooo hard not to get a dog because I don’t want a dog- but I kinda sorta do. My life is *still* wickedly crazy awesome – it just looks a lot different than it did when I started this blog. So, now’s the time to stop blogging so much about my kids and start blogging about me.
Happy 17th birthday, my sweet boy. I say this every year and I think I always will- I have no idea how you got to be this old. You were the VERY best Mother’s Day gift ever the day you were born. You were smushed and wrinkled and adorable, comfortably fitting in one arm- and now you tower over me. You drive. You’re looking at colleges. You are almost (but not quite) grown up. And that thrills me and makes me want to cry in equal measures.
You are the very best of your father and I – all brash confidence and kindness with a killer sense of humor. You’re dedicated and hard working (on things you want to work hard at) and passionate and simply amazing. I marvel at you daily wondering how we managed to make such an astounding person – I truly don’t know how we got so lucky.
16 was a *year,* wasn’t it? It wasn’t always easy – I think we fought more this year than we ever have. Teaching you to drive was a total nightmare for the both of us- I was a freaking terrible teacher and you weren’t exactly the best student. But we got through it with only a couple blown stop signs and one fender bender. There were a lot of growing pains as you continue to work toward becoming the man you’re growing to be- even though we have to continue to remind you that you weren’t quite as grown up as you think you were. But this year was also a lot of fun…
You got your first job. You were one of the captains of the football team. You’re in the middle of your first varsity baseball season. You decided to play football (FOOTBALLLLLLLL) in college. We’ve road tripped to at least 7 colleges trying to figure out where you’ll call home in a year and some change. You get up at 4 am most days to work out because you have more energy than a coked-up puppy. We’ve worked hard to learn how to manage all that energy so it can be focused where it needs to be. You’ve excelled in all your AP classes while continuing to make math your sworn enemy. You convinced us to get a kitten that was DYING and we (I) had to nurse back to health.
You know that I’m not the most sentimental mom. This yearly blog posts are usually about as mushy as I get, but kiddo- this year, prepare yourself. 17 seems HUGE and 17 is going to have some of your last firsts and I’m most likely going to be a basketcase the majority of the time. I’m going to try to pull you closer as you’re trying to pull away. And that’s normal and to be expected- but have patience with me, ok? Let me hug you a little bit more, for a little bit longer. Smile at all the pictures for me and don’t roll your eyes too loudly when I ask for a selfie. Because, kiddo? This is it. Next birthday will be your 18th and you’ll have made a college decision and whoooboy- that’s all A. LOT.
As always, I have a ton of hopes for your this year:
– I hope you enjoy the hell out of this next year. I hope you take part in everything you can, make alllllll the memories and leave high school next year knowing that you wrung out every possible experience from your time here.
– I hope you continue to keep your friend groups- you have a few of them and that’s awesome. You have the kiddos you grew up with, whose parents helped to raise you. You have the friends you picked yourself through sports. You have your baseball friend flung all over the state. Hold on to those connections, kiddos- friends are essential to a well lived life.
– I hope you keep making your sister be your friend. Tackle her. Tickle her. Let her beat you up- keep cultivating that relationship because she’s your best friend for life. You both will be celebrating every holiday and milestone together forever- so be good to each other.
– I hope you listen to me and your dad, and know that we’ll always be in your corner. We want the best for you, no matter what that looks like and we’ll always support you. End of story.
– I hope that you know that you’re never stuck. Pick a college and hate it? You can transfer. Pick a major and detest it? You can find a new one. It’s SUPER easy at this age to feel like all your choices are Big Ones that are set in stone- but that’s bullshit. Life is yours to make of what you want, and sometimes that involves detours. They may seem like huge roadblocks at the time, but there is literally nothing in your life you can’t change if that’s what you want.
– I hope you know that there is no mistake that can’t be fixed. It may be ugly and hard and miserable- but if you screw up, own it, make amends and move forward. Don’t ever mistake something temporary for something permanent.
– I hope you never lose your drive to work hard. Put in the effort. Focus on your goal and go get it. There is nothing you can’t do if you want it badly enough.
– I hope you always, always remain kind. Never punch down, always lend a helping hand, and give people (yourself included) grace. Using your manners and being kind will serve you better than just about anything else in life.
– I hope you don’t limit yourself. Dream big kiddo- figure out what brings you joy and pursue that without fail. Life is yours for the taking.
Remember that you are worth *everything* – don’t compromise all the amazing things that make you you to make yourself fit anywhere. You are worthy of love and joy and acceptance exactly as you are.
So, kiddo- get after it and know that we’ll be here cheering you on! Have the very best birthday – I cannot wait to see where this year takes us!
Happy 14th birthday! Yes, yes, you did turn 14 a while ago and yes, it has taken me *this* long to post this. I promise you that’s not a reflection of my love for you – just a reflection of the chaos that is summer round these parts.
Because you, my darling girl, are loved beyond measure. You were our missing piece- the part that made our family complete and now, now you’re 14.
13 was a good, scary year for you. You went back to school in person full time in 8th grade- the first time that’s happened since 6th grade. You were much more cool about it than I thought you’d be, to be honest. I think I was more nervous than you were. It took you a little while to find your footing. Middle school is strange under normal circumstances, and this existing-in-Covid world is anything but normal.
But you quickly found a group that included your BFFs and a few more people. You grew more confident and you got into a groove. You may never love school, but you didn’t dread it and you had friends everywhere you went. You played a couple of sports, you passed all your classes with flying colors, you went to your first semi-formal dance and you made us all stupidly proud of you.
And now you’re 14 and you’re going to be a freshman in high school. And my mind is blown because I’m pretty sure you were just a terror of a toddler yesterday. But nope, you’re now a solid 2 inches taller than I am, poised and collected and just as funny now as you were back then.
Here are my wishes for you this year:
– I hope you learn to take up space and use your voice. At home, you’re loud and funny and confident – I hope this is the year you let the rest of the world in. Because, girl, you’re amazing and that much amazingness should be shared with all.
– I hope you keep loving your BFFs. You are friends with some funny, intelligent, amazing ladies- keep ’em close and nurture those friendships.
– I hope you expand your group. Honestly, you can never have too many friends. So keep giving others a chance to surprise you. The quiet ones. The loud ones. The odd ones. Be open to all the great people out there.
– I hope you keep your astounding sense of self. I have never met a kid more sure of who she is as a person. Don’t let anyone erode that or steal that from you. That sense of confidence is a game changer.
– I hope you know how amazing you are. Loving yourself – your whole self – in a society that always tells you that you should be different or more is hard. It’s difficult not to compare and find yourself wanting. But, Bean, don’t. Just don’t – who you are is a wondrous, funny, smart, wicked person. You, exactly as you are this very minute, are perfect.
So, child of mine. Know that you are loved. Know that you are appreciated. Know that you are perfect – and have the best year ever. I’m so happy that you’re mine.
You’ve turned 16. SIX-FREAKING-TEEN and I’m not sure how that’s possible. This is a big one, bud. It feels huge in my heart. And in my throat as I panic a little over you – and your friends- driving.
You, my darling boy, are a marvel. A wonder. A jaw-dropping miracle that I still can’t believe is mine all these years later. This is the year that I realized that you’re not going to be just mine much longer – you’re making your way towards adulthood and our time with you living full time under our roof can only be measured in years for a short while longer. So forgive me if I hold a little too tight sometimes, ok?
15 has been one hell of an interesting year for you. After almost two years, life is 99% back to normal. You started your sophomore year and it’s been…a challenge. Things we learned from school this year:
You like Global Studies and English and Spanish – and you do well in those classes. When you want to.
You shouldn’t pick 600+ page books written in Russia in the 1880’s as your book report book, no matter how interesting it sounds.
Geometry and you are NOT friends.
You think Earth Science is stupid
If you feel anything is “stupid” you will refuse to put the work in and we’ll fight. A lot.
I don’t know how to do geometry and it makes me cry too.
Please, just pass the Geometry Regents so we can burn all your course materials and never speak of it again. I beg you.
Despite the challenges, school has been overall super positive for you. You’ve been challenged, you’ve had to learn to get shit done even if you don’t want to and you’ve kept up with your student council responsibilities.
Outside of academics, you’ve navigated a super interesting year. As you’ve gotten older, friendships have shifted. Some shrunk, some grew, some are brand new. You’ve also got a girlfriend. A GIRLFRIEND – and you’ve kept her for over 6 months. You seem to be really good to and for each other and I can’t ask for more than that. You played varsity football and JV basketball and baseball. You’ve put yourself out there at college camps and are starting to make decisions about your future.
As your parent, it’s scary and sad to see you go through uncertain times, to trust that you’re making the right decisions and surrounding yourself with people that push you to be your best self. Honestly, I’d be happy if you were younger and I was still making all your playdates for you. But you’re not and I can’t- so I have to have faith in you, and the foundation we’ve given you, that you’re making good choices and being kind and full of grace. Because, kiddo, you’re not the only one figuring things out- all your friends are in the same boat. You’re all growing and maturing at a different pace, but you’ll all get there. In the meantime, make sure to give each other a break, don’t be a dick and have a sense of humor. That’s prettttttty much the best advice I can give you for life too.
So, 16. SIX-FREAKING-TEEN. Here’s are my hopes for you this year:
I hope you don’t do anything too stupid, but I hope you do some stupid stuff and learn from it. By too stupid, I mean anything dangerous, including: sex, drugs, driving unsafely and breaking the law. Things you can’t come back from. But I do hope you fail spectacularly at something you care about so you have to learn grit and perseverance. I hope you feel what it’s like to really hurt someone’s feelings – so you can learn how to apologize with feeling and sincerity and know how shitty hurting someone feels so you don’t do it again. I hope you get your feelings crushed too so you can learn how crappy that is and see why words matter.
I hope you continue to be comfortable in your own skin. You are a wonderful person and I admire your drive and dedication more than you know. Knowing who you are is such a gift and I’m so glad you have it. But I hope you realize that others may not be there yet and you have to show grace and patience. That doesn’t mean you have to let them treat you badly, but it does mean learning not to let every little thing bother you.
I hope you realize that you can always change your mind. As we start talking more about your future- college, careers, etc- know that you’re never stuck. As long as you don’t do those truly stupid things I mentioned above, you can always change course. Your dad and I are going to love you and support you no matter what your path -all we ask is that you think things through and move with intention.
I hope you continue to value yourself. Your body, your feelings, your emotions. If you don’t prioritize yourself and demand to be treated well, no one else will advocate for you. Know that you are a good person, treat people accordingly and expect the same back.
I hope you *always* ask for consent. A.L.W.A.Y.S. Never take advantage, never assume and when “No” is said in any context, at any time, stop. That advice isn’t limited to your romantic partners or hook ups- it goes for alllll your relationships.
I hope you’re mindful of what you consume- what you eat, what you watch and what you listen to. Know that life is very rarely ever black and white. People can have different opinions and thoughts and not be your enemy. Listen, learn and grow- that’s one of the true marks of maturity.
I hope you value your health. Don’t put things in your body that would threaten that. For the love of god, never take something if you don’t know what it is and if you DO know what it is and it’s not something you should take, don’t. Who gives a shit what others say or think? Your body, your rules.
I hope you know that you’re always loved. Always valued. Always needed. Always wanted.
I hope this is the start of your very best year yet. Happy birthday, baby boy. We are so very proud of you and cannot wait to see where the next year takes you.
I love raising teenagers. Except for when I don’t. And today, I don’t.
Story 1 – Yesterday The scene: Scorch needs to / wants to eat. He is hangry but he’s also lazy. So he doesn’t want to cook or make anything. He just wants food.
Just none of the food in our fridge. We have leftovers, we have cold cuts, we have waffles, we have cereal. We have fruit and veggies and PB&J. We have frozen pizza and chicken strips.
He wants NONE OF THOSE.
Scorch: “Mom, we have NOTHING to eat in this house. It’s all the same food all the time.”
Me: “Well, make a list and tell me what you want and I’ll grab new foods the next time I’m at the store.”
Scorch, as he’s throwing himself on the couch, huffing in indignation: “NO! I don’t want new foods. I just don’t want the foods we have. I’m hungry.”
Cool, cool. That’s helpful, kid- super helpful.
Story 2 – Today The scene: It’s Monday after school. Scorch’s girlfriend is over. She’s leaving at 5, and Scorch has to leave at 5:10 to go to basketball practice.
Me, at 4:50: “Scorch, come up and get food before you have to go.”
Scorch: “It’s early and The Girlfriend is here, I don’t need to eat yet.”
Me: “Ok, but you have 20 minutes until you have to go. Plan accordingly.” (hahahaha– I say that, but like, no, I know he’s NEVER going to plan accordingly.)
The girlfriend leaves at 5:05 and it’s 5:07. Scorch decides, 3 MINUTES before he has to go, that he wants to make eggs and waffles. EGGGGGSSSS AND WAFFLES- remember when I told him to plan accordingly!?
I calmly tell him that he doesn’t have time for that, he’s got to grab something to go.
Scorch: “This is such crap! I’m starving and now you’re telling me I don’t have time to eat?!”
I love him. I love him with my whole heart. But there are days where I wonder if he has a brain in his head.
I feel the urge to write- it’s like an itch under my skin. A prickle in my brain that’s telling me I’m forgetting to do something.
I don’t have a story to tell, or a theme to this post- just a general state of affairs in Jan 2022. Our schools handed out Covid tests so now I have two kits (4 tests total). I feel like this is similar to a 2020 toilet paper flex. Only it’s January in Central NY and if I used the tests every time everyone sneezed (dust allergies), coughed (it’s dry AF with the heat on 24/7) or sniffled (see: the sneezing), I’d use them all in one day. So instead I feel like I’m going to go the opposite direction and force my kids to pass a 45-point check point list before I administer one.
My kids are hoping that school will go virtual for a week or so. One because she genuinely loved doing school from her bed and the other because he doesn’t like getting out of his bed. Our schools, bless them, are committed to staying open unless there is a lack of teachers or bus drivers. I foresee this happening sometime in the next month, and frankly, I wouldn’t mind a few days home with the kids- but, please dear Lord, not long term. None of us would survive that. Sports are still going full force and I’m very, very thankful for that – both my kids and myself (let’s be real – mainly me) thrive on routine and schedules so school + sports = happier people.
All that said, I feel like getting Covid again is pretty much a guarantee at this point. It’s everywhere right now. I’m very, very, VERY thankful that the vaccine seems to be limiting most people to mild symptoms. But I have that same sense of dread I used to have when the stomach bug was going around the kid’s Kindergarten classroom. You KNEW it was coming. You KNEW it was only a matter of time. So all you can do is hunker down, make sure you’re stocked up and wait. It’s been a tad over a year since it hit my family in 2021, so- yeah. Cheers to that anniversary.
In non-Covid news, I did not win the Powerball lottery last week. I very rarely play – only when the jackpot is super high. Yes, I realize that actually lessens my chance of winning since everyone plays then, but no one has ever accused me of being logical. Am I the only one who dreams about what they are going to do with their winnings? How much money each family member will get. If we’ll stay in our house/town so the kids can finish school with their friends. If we’d keep our jobs – or, really, work any jobs. Where we’d travel to.
Our addition was completed almost a year ago now and I’m 99% sure no matter how rich we’d get, we’d stay in this house. I *love* my house right now- I love my bathroom. I love the space. I love my pretty easy commute to most places. The only upgrade I’d 100% make is I’d put in radiant heating in the floors and put in a heated driveway so allllll the snow and ice melts without having to shovel / snowblow. That would be the ultimate luxury in NY in the winters. I would also 100% quit my job and work in a library or volunteer somewhere in case anyone was wondering. (Our cat is also still loving our bathroom.)
2021 wasn’t 2020, so there is that! It wasn’t a normal year, but it wasn’t the horror show either and I’m taking that as a win.
The bad: we all got Covid (3 of us in Jan and 1 of us in May), the Hubs got pneumonia twice, the Hubs had knee surgery #454, and geometry.
The good: we all recovered relatively quickly from Covid, we celebrated our 20th anniversary, schools were back 100% in person this fall, family vacations, live music, watching the kids play sports in person, and the addition being done.
I blogged a lot less because writing about teens means their stories aren’t mine to tell any more. They read what I write, they critique it, and they want to have their private lives remain private. It’s exhilarating/exhausting/amazing to live in real time, but makes from a whole lot of nothing for the blog.
I’m not big on resolutions, but I do try to pick a word or a thought to start the new year of with. The word for 2022 is intentional. I want to be intentional about how I spend my time. How I spend my money. What I consume. Who, and what I invest, my passion into. I have 2.5 years left with Scorch living with us full time and 4.5 years left with the Bean. That is insane to me, so I want to make sure I’m making the most of that time and prioritizing properly.
If the past 2 years have shown us anything, it’s that we have no control over what the world throws at us. All we can control is how we react to it, the people we surround ourselves with and the love we put back out into the world. So, 2022 – be gentle. We all need a break and I have high hopes for you!
If you have spent any time with me in real life over the summer, you know I was counting down the days until school went back. I needed the stability of our routine back, I needed dedicated time where I didn’t have to worry about which kid needed to be where at what time during the summer. I needed hours where I could just work and not multitask working/parenting/cooking/driving/etc all at the same time. I’m a much better mother, wife and employee when I have a set time during the day to do each thing, not huge chunks of time when I’m trying to do all 3, and the return to school allows me to do that.
And I loathe feeling like that because I *love* summer. Hot days, vacation, swimming, sunshine and an, in theory, easier schedule. And this summer has been wonderful- we had two great vacations, lots of family time, countless laughs and a lot of great times. The kids were a delight and, as they continue to get older, I love their company more and more. We packed a lot into our short, northeast summer and I don’t regret a single moment of it.
But this summer was also hard – the kids, at 15 and 13, very rightly want to hang out with their friends during the summer. Scorch had football conditioning and practices, the Bean had basketball and I was the one coordinating it all. There were a lot of days this summer where I was pretty sure I was failing at everything as I tried to keep all the balls in the air. So when the kids went back to school a few weeks ago, I may have danced a jig. 😉
Bean is in 8th grade, Scorch is in 10th. They are fully vac’d and back to school full time, wearing masks. There were a ton of nerves on the first morning (mine and theirs) as I made them pose for pictures in their back to school “finest”. Both have challenging schedules this year and will be juggling a lot but I couldn’t be more excited for them. I adore them both and know that they’ll do well this year – if nothing else, 2020 showed us just how adaptable and resourceful my kids are.
So, school? WELCOME THE FLUCK BACK. Please don’t ever leave me again, you gorgeous institution, you. Summer 2022, I’ll be counting down the days until I see you.
A few months ago, we were out of town for a baseball tournament. The Hubs and I were tired, hot, hungry, sweaty, stressed over an ever changing schedule that day, and pretty much completely over everything.
Including each other.
Something really dumb happened and he yelled at me and I yelled right back at him for raising his voice at me. (I know…the logic astounds.) Then we just yelled at each other over stupid shit like who was right to be angry and who was wrong for like 5 minutes. We’re not typically yellers – especially with both kids in the car – but we were D.O.N.E. Shortly thereafter, I dropped the Hubs and Scorch off at the hotel and the Bean and I went to grab our lunches.
As we pulled away from the hotel, Bean says, “I don’t know why you both just don’t get a divorce. Allllll this yelling, come on.”
I started to giggle a little because while we were both being asshats that day, we aren’t on the brink of divorce. When I asked her why she thought we should get a dirvorce, she told me that NONE of the couples fight on the TV shows she watches- The Outer Banks, The Vampire Diaries, etc.
I started to laugh even harder because…yeah. Real life, those shows are not.
The Hubs and I celebrated our 20th anniversary a short while ago- a few days after my 25th high school reunion, as a matter of fact. (Any time I still feel hip and cool, I’m going to reread that sentence a few times.) I hate to say that our 20th felt anticlimactic, but it 100% did. This past year and a half was insane between Covid, remote learning, a huge home addition, summer travels, work stress and on and on and on. The fact that we survived this one year is more impressive than the past 19, to be honest.
I’ve been trying to figure out something profound that I can say about 20 years of marriage…and I’ve got nothing. It IS a milestone and it should be celebrated – and we did by going away for a night with friends to see James Taylor in concert (10/10 would highly recommend). But there are no magic words of wisdom or secrets I can tell you.
Here is what I have learned:
No one has a perfect marriage and there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Anyone who tries to showcase theirs as such is lying to you and themselves.
Maintaining my marriage is, at the same time, the easiest and the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Some days I kill it, other days I fail miserably.
Staying married is a choice the Hubs and I make daily. We choose to put each other and our vows first even when it’s hard.
Some days we suck at it – we barely speak and just go through the motions.
Other days I look at that man and my heart swells because I have no idea how I got so freaking lucky.
Over the course of 20 years, the days I thank my lucky stars far outnumber the days I wonder what the hell I was thinking. My husband makes me laugh every day, always has my back and is a wonderful father to our kids. I have no idea what the next 20 years will hold but I’m praying hard I walk them with the Hubs by my side.