Teenagers do grow up. Really.

Daughter Amanda. From teenager to (decades later) five-star many things, including photographer.
Daughter Amanda. From teenager to five-star many things, including photographer.

Some days, around children’s teen years, parenting feels like a string of first-class flubs, second-guessed decisions, three-strike outs, and four-season battles. But other days bring surprises; reminders from God to stay the course.

In my “KEEP” file sits one of those surprises: a folded white card containing a half-page of tiny hand-written script. Our daughter’s script, written in her teens. The note flows with simple heartfelt words. Words I have often re-visited in the several decades since she wrote them, her small hand moving without hesitation over the page.

Our family home-schooled. Part of my mission was to teach my children to read things worth reading and write things worth writing. Books have always been our family’s natural habitat, but teaching the enjoyment of writing took intentional practice.

Hoping to help them understand the inner bounty that personal writing brings, we began many of our days with a short writing assignment. Any topic. Any perspective. “Just write,” I told them, “even if all you can think of is a shopping list. Let’s just put our pens to the page and not raise them for five minutes.”

Amanda’s note was one of those five-minute writings. “My mother,” she began, “is an author…” That beginning grabbed me.

Author? Me? I edited a provincial home-education journal at the time, but other than the occasional newspaper article, most of my own writing landed in red pen on the margins of my students’ schoolwork. Encouragement, correction, ideas. I dreamed of becoming an author, but had no time to work it. Raising and educating our children took priority.

Kind words from one’s offspring make the first-class-flub days fade a bit. You realize that something’s growing in that child. Something only God can plant, but something you’ve helped hoe. Empathy. Charity. Maturity. Demonstration that our kids are beginning to see past themselves, perhaps even far enough to understand that their (still-developing) parent just may have goals, hopes and dreams of their own.

The wonder of that note remains. Not only did my daughter understand the dream, she believed in me, and in what God had put in me, enough to state that I already was what I aspired to be. But far greater than my dream of becoming a writer, was my prayer that our children grow into faith-full, happy, healthy and productive adults. As I’ve watched them mature, gratitude warms my heart each time we see another answer to those prayers.

As I hoped, among a great many other things (like raising and educating five children), today Amanda reads things worth reading. She also writes things worth writing – and reading. I’d ask her to guest-write a future Sunny Side Up or three, to share her fresh and easy style with my readers – except she may tell mother-stories!

If you’re raising teenagers, have patience with yourself and them. Never stop loving. Never stop praying. They WILL grow up. In fact, with God’s help, most teenagers mature into five-star citizens.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Amanda!