The purpose of teenagers

Teenagers are God’s way of inoculating parents against “empty nest” syndrome. There are three and a half teenagers living in my house right now–three boys, one girl. The “half” is 11 going on 17. He desperately wants to be included in all the activities of his older brothers and sister. The others are 18, 16 and nearly 15.
Don’t get me wrong; I love these kids. They are the fruit of my womb; my gifts from God; His heritage to me. But as they’ve gotten older, bigger, and stinkier, something in me has changed. I no longer dread the idea of them moving out.
I know I’ll miss them. I know I’ll probably cry the first time I only have to cook for two instead of a party of six. But I won’t miss the scores of belongings scattered throughout my home on every surface. I won’t miss the towering pile of laundry that threatens to engulf me every week, or the search for dirty dishes that have been carted off to bedrooms and left to decompose.
I threatened to hide the Easter eggs in the boys’ room this year, thinking it might force them to really clean the place up. But the idea of a rotting multi-colored egg buried somewhere among the grubby socks and scraps of paper convinced me to relent.
I’m tempted to feel guilty for looking forward to the close of this season of parenting. Does it make me a negligent parent to want them to grow up and move out on their own? No, I think the Lord is preparing my heart for their departure, protecting me from that pit of despair our modern culture has termed “empty nest syndrome.”
If we really want to know about the empty nest, we ought to look at the eagle. Mother eagles rip the soft feathers from their own breasts to cushion the nest before they lay their eggs. The parent eagles take turns sitting on the eggs, feeding the tiny, defenseless eaglets as they grow and develop, providing “toys” for the eaglets to play with in the sprawling nest. One day the mother eagle returns home and begins flinging the toys and fluff out of the nest, much to the eaglets’ dismay. They don’t realize by forcing them to grip the branches the nest is made from she’s strengthening their legs and feet. The eagle family muddles along like this for awhile. You can almost sense the attitude of the eaglets-a little hurt, a little angry, maybe even a bit rebellious. And then, when the day comes, the mother eagle forces them out of the nest — no, she doesn’t wait for them to decide, she decides for them — and they literally have to fly, or fall. You know what? They fly.
I guess we’re in the phase where I’ve started throwing out the toys and fluff. I stole the cord out of the satellite receiver today and hid it so one who came home “sick” wouldn’t be able to lay around and stare at the idiot box all afternoon. He experienced a miraculous recovery within hours. I’m adding responsibilities, expecting and demanding more from my eaglets, and sometimes they resist and rebel and ask “why?” But one day, when I’m sunning myself on a beach in the Caribbean, sipping a tropical drink from a fancy glass, and thoroughly enjoying my empty nest season, maybe they’ll text me and say “THNKS MOM, 4 EVRYTHNG.” The answer to a mother’s prayer.

5 thoughts on “The purpose of teenagers

  1. Annie says:

    I am glad to have you go before me on this adventure and look forward to the “what not to do” posts as well as the “this was a good idea” ones.

  2. Patty Wysong says:

    Welcome to blogging, Niki! (I’m from Terry’s class, too.)

    Boy, could I relate to this post! LoL–I also have 3.5 homeschool teenagers, and a tag-along, and I’m pushing toys out of the nest. =)

    Loved this post! I hadn’t heard what eagles do,so cool.

  3. Karin Beery says:

    You mean it gets worse? I only have a husband and I can barely keep up with the cleaning and laundry!

    Oh my…

  4. Niki Turner says:

    Hey Patty and Karin! I love that Terry’s class is getting more and more of us connected! Thanks for commenting and following!
    Patty – I’ve got a “tag-along” too! We’ve got lots in common! How on earth do you keep up with so many blogs?
    Karin – Just multiply the number of times each person in the household change socks each week by two, and multiply that by the number in your family. That’s how many socks you get to sort. Fortunately, teenage boys don’t seem to change their socks very often, but all their clothes are much bigger!

  5. Sherrinda Ketchersid says:

    I am “lurking” Terry’s class…not contributing, but am finding it invaluable!

    Your post sounds like my house!!! Stuff everywhere, mounds of laundry and the dirty, moldy dishes upstairs….sigh.

    My mother-in-law always tells me that God prepares us to let them go and I now know why. My oldest just got married and my second is a senior and ready to leave the nest. I have to say that I am not too teary. 😉

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