My youngest asked if I was sad there were no more teenagers in our house. Honestly, I'm not.

  • I'm a mom of four, and my youngest just turned 20.

  • She asked me if I was sad there were not more teenagers in the house, and honestly I'm not.

  • They were easy teens all things considered, but I miss when they were babies more.

We've had a teenager in the house for 14 years. And now, we don't. The youngest of our four children just turned 20. A new phase of parenting has started — parenting adults, three of whom still live at home.

"Are you sad?" asked my newly minted 20-year-old daughter. I was confused by her question.

"Because we've all grown up," she said.

I'm not sure I'm sad

I was sad when the kids hit other milestones. Very sad sometimes. I was sad each time I finished breastfeeding, sad when I packed the baby clothes away, sadder when I gave away the clothes I would never need again, sad when they started school, and sad when they first went on school camp.

I used to crave when the kids were old enough that I didn't have to cart them all everywhere I went. It was liberating not to have to wake up a baby and pack up a grizzling toddler, but the older the kids got, the busier I got. I had children at home, children at kindergarten, children at primary school, children at secondary school, children at play dates, and children at activities. All at the same time.

My weekdays became "The Amazing Race." I would get up first and organize snacks and lunches, and I would go all day until I sat down after dinner — and dishes and kids' baths, storytime, and bedtime.

I was exhausted all the time. I'm glad I survived it but I don't miss the stress of it.

I have pretty chill teens

My four kids are almost eight years apart, so when my eldest turned 13, the youngest was in her first year of school. I was managing teenage angst alongside primary school readers.

I can't even complain about too many issues with my teenagers. Yes, there was the usual rebellion stuff — talking back, door slamming, messy rooms, sleep-ins, sulkiness — but nothing too serious, thank goodness.

Even so, having four children grow into adults in your house is a lot. A lot of driving, a lot of cooking, a lot of washing, a lot of cleaning, a lot of food shopping, a lot of learner driver hours, and a lot of soul-searching. No matter how many parenting books I read or how many topics I Googled, I continually worried whether I was parenting "right."

What is parenting "right" anyway? I certainly was never and never will be a perfect parent, but I tried hard. I remember when the kids were little and my husband was often overseas working. I would be frazzled and feel like I was barely holding it together. In the midst of my trying to manage a toddler tantrum or feeling particularly exhausted, someone (an older lady usually) would stop me at the shops with a smile and tell me to treasure these moments as they soon would pass. I tried. I really did. And I kept trying when those cherubic faces grew into (sometimes) sulky teenagers.

I want to enjoy them now

So, am I sad I don't have teenagers in the house anymore? No, not really. After 14 years of it, I have had enough of that stage and the relentless busyness of it. Do I wish for the days when the chubby hands slipped into mine, and the trusting eyes looked adoringly at me and hung on my every word? Yes! But let's face it, by the time they hit teenagerhood, those chubby hands and trusting eyes had long morphed into kids taller than me and minds than can out-debate me.

Time stops for no one and all I can do now is enjoy the current stage of young, interesting, opinionated adults and look forward to what's to come.

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