It Really Does Get Better

Today, my firstborn, my oldest son, turned fourteen years old.

Just to refresh your memory, he used to look like this:

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SO squishy.

Now, he looks like this:

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SO many Nike products in one picture.

That’s kind of wild, right? (Also, those are men’s size 11 shoes he’s wearing right there. I was absolutely unprepared for how quickly teenagers grow out of apparel. We had to buy him dress pants and a long-sleeved, button-down shirt for chorus this year and while everything fit fine for the fall concert, it was getting a little snug for the winter concert, which means, I can only assume, it will all be too small by the spring concert. Even the tie, probably.)

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I know everyone’s favorite thing to say to new parents is, “IT GETS BETTER!” Three words meant in the best possible way to buoy the spirit of beleaguered caretakers. This message is always delivered one of two ways: with much excitement and enthusiasm (by a parent whose kids slept through the night), or, with a tinge of regret and a deep sigh of resignation (by a parent whose kids STILL aren’t sleeping through the night).

The thing is, it really does get better. It’s amazing to look at pictures of Henry as a baby and realize how little we understood about the journey ahead. We still don’t really understand the journey ahead but our kids are all potty trained so somehow, that journey seems a little more agreeable than it did a decade ago.

Here’s a short list of everything that the kid in the second picture can do but that newborn in the first picture was totally incapable of doing because he was a baby:

  • Emptying the dishwasher.
  • Toasting his own bagel. Heating up his own frozen pizza. BAKING muffins like a real full-grown human!
  • BABYSITTING HIS YOUNGER SIBLINGS SO MAMA CAN RUN ERRANDS ALL BY HER LONE SELF.
  • Vomiting in a proper receptacle. (Great news for those parents out there of middle-of-the-night bedroom carpet pukers.)
  • Doing his own laundry (thanks middle school life skills class!).
  • Completing his homework with almost complete autonomy, tracking what needs to be done and when it’s due.
  • Soloing at every sports practice or birthday celebration or school activity. In fact, I don’t even think twice about anything other than a drop-off anymore because I’m pretty sure my attendance will only embarrass him anyway.
  • Packing his own luggage for trips and vacations. The kids may not always pack enough but they don’t pack enough all on their own which is really all I can ask for.
  • Owning a knowledge base to fix almost any IT issue that arises at the house.

When I asked Bob what he thinks is easier about having older kids, his response was, “They can fetch things.” Like, Bob’s reading glasses. Maybe an extra blanket if Bob has a chill. Or, for example, Bob’s medications. So, retrieving items for the elderly is apparently a checkmark in the teenager column for sure. Or, the encouragement we need to adopt a retriever of some sort.

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I recently started driving Henry to and from school each day since the middle school bus is the Wild Wild West of the adolescent years. I assumed I would loathe the inconvenience of the across town location and traffic navigating that driving him would require. I was super surprised to find myself enjoying the commute immensely. The dedicated time together has led to some interesting discussions on a rather wide range of topics that are not exclusively sports related! I find myself looking forward to the drive.

It’s precious time with a precious son who, at fourteen years of age, is such an enjoyable and interesting human.

Life since those newborn days has gotten easier. It’s gotten lovelier. It’s gotten more intense. It’s presented new challenges. But, it’s definitely gotten better.

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