Today I’m giving myself a little pat on the back and a “good job, you made it.” This self-congratulating is because today is my daughter’s birthday.  Good bye teenager.  Hello 20s.  She’s alive and thriving.  I still have most of my hair left and pieces of my sanity remain intact as well despite the last seven years that were her teenage years.

Allow me to clarify.  I loved her at 13.  I loved her at 14.  I loved her but didn’t like her much at 15.  I loved her at 16 and 17.  I loved her at 18 but she was a little shady.  I liked her on most days when she was 19 too.  But I can’t get enough of her at 20.

Today, she is sitting in a sorority house at her university campus, about a 3-hour drive from me, killin’ it.  I never would have believed it had you told me on one of those nights that we both stormed out of the room crying with frustration hurt feelings blinding rage over a disagreement miscommunication full-out brawl about her attitude.

We celebrated her birthday 3 days ago when we drove there to take our family to dinner.  The next morning, during breakfast at our favorite diner just a couple blocks off campus she said, and I quote “mom is my best friend.” It was a quick phrase in a long story she was telling us about her friends.  I sat across from her trying not to react.  Trying not to choke on my granola yogurt parfait. Cool as a cucumber as my heart filled up with her.  How far we have come since her 13th birthday when we drove her and a carload of friends to Nashville to shop.  I contemplated giving her away to anyone who would take her that day.  But now?  Now only a short few years later she was sitting there all adult-like having a conversation with her parents; casually saying out loud that I’m her best friend.

I write this as a form of encouragement to so many of my dear friends who are smack dab in the middle of the teenager, smart-assy, unpredictable, sanity-challenging days that you worry will never end.  They end.

If you can, keep them alive while still reminding them that even being a grade A jerk doesn’t diminish your love for them.  The rest will hopefully fall into place.  Staying alive and knowing they are loved are the primary goals.  It’s rewardingly refreshing to hear her reflect back on those grade A jerk moments with regret.  She sees things with more mature eyes now and I don’t seem so dumb to her now.

20 is still a fresh adult with so many faceplants and heartbreak ahead; much yet to learn.  However, I look forward to hearing my phone ring with her voice wanting to talk about it rather than a slammed door.

Teenagers.  They don’t keep.  Suck them up and love them while you can.  Because thank you Jesus, one day it ends.

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