The Day Before Teenager

The doctor put you in my arms and I became a different person. At least, that’s how it felt. With your wet warm squirmy body on my chest, the deepest part of me became forever changed. I had really no idea what I was doing and yet I knew to the depths of my soul that I was the one to do it. You made me a mother and gave me a mission beyond anything I had before and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Tomorrow you’re a teenager. That’s supposed to be something dramatic. I’m told I’m supposed to fear it, to dread who you will become. But…I don’t. Not even a little bit. Maybe I'll regret saying that, I don’t know. But I know you’ll still be you and that isn’t going to suddenly change. There are those profound moments in our lives that do change us but rarely is it a birthday. You will still be you and I will still be your mom. Right now I’m just so excited to see and know the boy you are and the man you are becoming. Honestly? I just feel so completely privileged to watch God work in you because He is making someone amazing.

There will be people who expect little of you because of your age. They will expect you to be selfish, lazy, lustful, jaded, irresponsible. Don’t believe them. They’re wrong. Of course, there may be moments for all those temptations – there are for all of us – and yes, you may even fall. But those moments are not you. You are capable of greatness. Of holiness. They may tempt you to think that you don’t have what it takes. They lie. Prove them wrong.

You are still ours, an irreplaceable member of our family. We need you and no one can replace who you are to us and your role in our family. Age cannot touch that. Society’s expectations can not change that. Never ever forget that. You belong here.

No one on earth loves you more than your father and me and no choice you make could ever ever change that. We want you to be everything that you were made to be. We want you to experience the depth of joy that is a life fully lived in Christ. We want you to be fully free to be fully you. We want you to reject the things that will make you less than that. We will do everything in our power to help but we cannot do it for you. You have to want it for yourself. We will rejoice with you when you succeed and cry with you when you hurt. We will never stop believing that you are made for greatness.

I love you to the ends of the earth but I will fail. I know it. I have countless times before now and I’m weak enough to know that I probably will again. You’ve always astounded me with how easily you forgive. May you always hold onto that but may I never ever take advantage of that. How I wish I had a depth of wisdom and experience to draw from so that you could have the absolute best. How I wish I had the perfect virtue I need to be the mother you deserve! May I always recognize that your dignity demands I give everything I can, as flawed it may be sometimes. But I trust that God knew what He was doing when He put us together. I’ve been figuring this all out from day one and somehow we’ve done all right. Thank God for His Holy Spirit. He never calls us to something without giving us the grace to be able to do it. Stay open to that grace always.

May you always know how to treat other people with dignity and respect. May you stand up for the weakest among us. May you be a voice of love in a world of hate. May you be a man of honor in a culture that expects the opposite. May you always always treat women with the deepest respect and reverence. May you seek to give rather than take. May you learn to suffer well. May you always use your gifts to serve. May you find work that is noble and do it to the best of your ability. May you own your failures and always strive to do better. May you never be too afraid to get your hands dirty, too proud to ask forgiveness, or too self-conscious to kiss your mother. May you keep that heart for adventure. May you seek His will and voice far above any other. May you always find your deepest worth as a son of God.

I love you, my boy. You amaze me. The way you love your baby brother, the way you fight for what is right, the way you learn anything and everything by reading, the way you are already striving to grow in virtue. We see the spirit of your namesake in you in so many ways. May you do him proud and may he continue to inspire and pray for you. I am so excited to see where God takes you (even if it is your current plan of living alone off the grid in the mountain wilderness, hunting and foraging for your food...although I sort of get the feeling He may have something a bit more for you in store). But right now today? Today I'm just so incredibly grateful that you're my (almost) teenage boy being exactly who you're supposed to be.

With my whole heart,

"Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12


  1. This is beautiful. Why are people so afraid of teenagers? Why do they assume the worst? I was a high school teacher and loved it. The teens years are amazing. So much growth, so many good conversations, so much fun. Enjoy them!

  2. This is a beautiful post! Our oldest is just 11, but I too love watching him grow and become the man God is calling him to be. Sure, the teenage years are going to present their unique struggles, but what age doesn't? I am really enjoying already in our 11 year old the capacity for conversation and discussion about some of life's big questions! I'm tucking this post away in my memory for a couple years from now! What a sweet gift to your son this post is! Has he gotten to read it?

  3. This is so achingly beautiful and you are absolutely right. So many people plan and expect--and accept--that teenagers are a nightmare. They almost give them a green light to be less than they can be. We knew parents who expected their teens to doubt their faith and told them it was their choice whether or not they received the Sacrament of Confirmation, without helping them to see why it was so important to get those precious graces. (And guess what? Some of those kids were never confirmed.)

    We raised five sons and I can honestly say that the teenage years were filled with so much joy, so much fun. The world did pull at them, but for the most part they resisted. I am so proud of them for the way they fought the good fight, even when doing so made them seem less than "cool." They worked hard at school; they grew in their Faith; they treated us and each other with respect. As parents, my husband and I had to be a bit counter-cultural (and often felt lonely, because there were so few parents at their Catholic high school who felt the way we did about things). But it was worth it. Because I look back on the high school years with so much nostalgia and fondness.

    My boys are 33, 32, 31, 29, and 24 now. My husband and I wrote each of them letters like this when they went on their senior retreat in high school, and I wish I'd been able to express myself as well as you do here. You write so beautifully and this is such a gift for your boy.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! This is so encouraging <3


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