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Teenager, You’re Worth Waiting For

Hey, my teenager,

Over the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time waiting.

Waiting for you.

I’ve waited for you to be ready to be picked up from school or practice or rehearsal or a lesson or a “hangout” (I still remember the day you ousted “playdate” from my mom vocabulary, by the way).

I’ve waited in the car while you were doing things that didn’t involve me but also didn’t merit a trip home. I’ve waited for texts from you. I’ve waited to find out how you did on that test you were so worried about. I’ve waited to hear if you got the spot on the team or the solo in the show. And then, when you did, I’ve waited for the games and shows to start.

I’ve waited for you to get out of the shower (you do love your showers). I’ve waited for you to get up on the weekend (though I’m actually glad when you can sleep in and catch up a little). I’ve waited for you to come out of a mood. I’ve waited for you to be ready to talk or to tell me what’s (really) wrong. I’ve waited for details and information. I’ve waited for you to decide what to share, and when.

Since you got your driver’s license, I’ve waited for you to get home, alternating between looking at the driveway and looking at the time on my phone. Before long, I could be waiting for some kind of communication from your dream school—preferably a message that starts with “Congratulations.”

As your mom, there is a lot of inactivity in all this waiting.

There’s not much I can do—or, more to the point, should do—to affect the outcome of what I’m waiting for. I can quiz you on vocabulary for the big test, or give you advice on safe driving, or urge you to eat some protein before the game, or remind you to PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN TEXT YOUR MOTHER. But mostly, I just wait—and possibly prepare my congratulatory or consolation speech, if needed. I’m pretty sure this is what “letting go” looks like in real life.

I’m not great at waiting in the first place. So I’m not crazy about this holding-pattern business. Especially since so much of it involves the happiness or well-being of a child I am crazy about.

But somewhere along the line, I figured something out.

I realized I am in this position because of a high privilege: I am your person.

I’m a key member of the support staff for this stage of your life.

I have the sometimes-heartbreaking honor of being your comforter and counselor when life doesn’t go the way you want it to… the moments when all you can think is, “I just want my mom.” I’m always waiting for these moments, trying not to be caught off-guard, trying to be ready for them. But for your sake, I hope I’m waiting for nothing.

With this difficult honor, though, comes an easier one. The privilege of being first in line to celebrate with you when life goes exactly the way you want it to—or better, even.

I get the gift of being on the receiving end of a message that goes like this: “The first thing I thought when this happened was, ‘I can’t wait to tell mom.’” I wait for these kinds of moments… and hope, out of love for you, that they happen often. And when they do and I have a front-row seat (or a front-row parking spot, as the case may be), they are worth the wait.

Just like you.

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And because you are worth it, I’ll always be waiting. I will wait to see where you go and who you become. But I’ll be looking on from more of a distance. I will learn to wait longer between updates and announcements, comforting and congratulating. While I wait, I’ll pull out the list of things I said I would do “someday” and finally tackle a few of the projects I put on hold. And when I make progress, you will be one of the people I can’t wait to tell.

Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two daughters (one teen and one young adult) who regularly dispense love, affection, and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.

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