We don’t see a whole lot of J these days. Like many teenagers, his waking hours are full of commitments that keep him out of the house (and when he’s home, out of the family room), starting very early in the morning.
On weekdays, he gets up around 5:30 a.m. to shower.
He’s outside starting his car by 6:30.
He picks up his best friend on his way to school.
High school begins at 7:20.
High school ends at 2:25.
He drops his best friend off at home before heading straight for work.
He works from about 3:00 until 5:30 each weekday (except for what he calls “No Work Wednesdays!”).
On Tuesdays he drives straight from work to his guitar lessons.
Once home, he tackles homework from the seven classes that make up his challenging Junior year schedule.
He joins us for dinner and sometimes a little television if it’s a light homework day, and then heads upstairs to chat with his girlfriend on the phone and get ready for bed, with lights off usually by 9:30.
Saturdays are his one day off from everything “official”, but he usually spends them trying to catch up on long-term homework projects, making up for lost time hanging out with his girlfriend, and sleeping.
Sundays he works all day long at his regular job. Every other week he has an added two hours of work when he goes to the salon (the one for which I do marketing work) and deep cleans.
He is the most awesome sort of teenager: he’s very respectful, kind, and caring with none of the negative stereotypical teen issues. He’s absolutely hilarious and very laid-back, and so on days when he’s feeling the pressure I can all see it on his face and in his very tensed up body language. On those tougher days I am reminded that in this amazing time of transition to adulthood, he’s still only seventeen.
Though my motherly instincts make me wish that he had more downtime during which he could do whatever he wanted to do–even if that was nothing at all–I quickly redirect my thoughts to how great it is that he’s developing a strong work ethic, learning responsibility, and developing skills he will use his entire life. On those tougher days, I listen to him if he needs to vent and I provide a little extra support in the way of bringing his overflowing laundry basket downstairs for him or picking up a bag of his favorite honey mustard pretzels at the grocery store.
When he occasionally tells me that he doesn’t really want to go to school because he’s so exhausted, I nod because I know exactly how he feels, and although he would definitely take me up on an offer for him to stay home, he isn’t really asking to do that; he’s just asking to be understood. I send him out the door with a wish for a great day, knowing that even though the life of a teenager is also the training grounds for adulthood, he can still be boosted by extra love and support from his mom.