When You’re Raising Teens, The Days Are Long But the Years Really ARE Short

This Post: When You’re Raising Teens, The Days Are Long But the Years Really ARE Short

Written by: Morgan Hill

When my son was an infant, I got a lot of unsolicited advice. Well-meaning, of course. But unasked, nonetheless. Like I didn’t have enough “new mom” thoughts and worries swirling around in my head already!

“You should let him cry it out.”

“You definitely shouldn’t let him cry it out.” 

“You need this new baby gadget… it will make your life so much easier!”

“Don’t worry about buying all the new baby gadgets. Most of them are totally unnecessary.” 

Even though I knew they had my son’s best interest at heart, I was trying my best as a first-time mom, and the constant flood of comments, suggestions, and “You have to do this,” tidbits of information only heightened my insecurities. 

But my least favorite piece of advice I received?

Make SURE you relish these days because “The days are long, but the years are short.”

Come on now. Really? The years didn’t feel that short to me…


Not only were the days incredibly long, but the years seemed to inch by at a snail’s pace, too. Of course, I loved those years raising my son and I’ll always cherish them, but they were exhausting and HARD.

With each phase he went through, it seemed the last phase was somehow easier. Ugh, he can’t walk, and I have to carry him everywhere! Ugh, he can walk, and I can’t keep up! He has no teeth and needs milk and smushed baby food. He has teeth for solid food, but now he bites! 

Then came preschool and elementary school – my baby wasn’t a baby anymore. He was a little boy whose smile could melt my heart and whose defiance could wear me out. Sure, those days were wonderful, but they were also challenging and a blur as well. 

Semi-structured days became structured. He spent more time in school and I felt like this mama could finally breathe a bit. Our days were filled with school and homework and after-school activities and helping him build friendships.

As the years melted from one into the next, I tried so hard to truly relish those years as he was growing up, but the mental and physical load of motherhood was unrelenting.

I mean, I think most moms would agree that it’s wholly unreasonable to be expected to cherish every moment of motherhood – especially when you’re dealing with a crying baby, tantruming toddler, a crying kid at the table who doesn’t understand his math homework, or a 12-year-old boy going through puberty with raging hormones and an attitude to boot. 

As tired as I was, I felt like my days were filled with, ” I can’t wait” thoughts. 

I can’t wait until he doesn’t throw temper tantrums anymore.

I can’t wait until he can dress and bathe himself.

I can’t wait until he doesn’t insist on wearing the same superhero pajamas every moment of the day.

I can’t wait until he can do homework himself and doesn’t rely on me as much.

I can’t wait until he can drive himself. Wouldn’t that be a relief??

But no… it wasn’t a relief. In fact, when I no longer had to drive my son (and all his friends) to school, sports, parties, and activities, it broke my heart. 

Now, 16 years later, and here we are…

My son would never let him read him a story or snuggle with him before he drifts off to sleep. (The mere suggestion would cost me a dramatic “Yuck! No, Mom!” and a serious eye-roll.) Hugs? Ha! Every once in a while he’ll let me wrap him in a hug or surprise me with a hug that sends my heart soaring. But most of the time, he comes home from school, breezes by me, and I may not see him until the morning. “Hi! How was school….?” But he’s already gone.

So, too, I’ve realized are almost two decades. Facebook memories are my nemesis. I can see exactly where the time went, where we were, what we were doing – a young mom and son.

Time is a thief, and it has stolen my baby.

Sure, we still have our moments hanging out watching sports, time in the car learning to drive, or running quick errands.

We’ll grab lunch every now and then and sometimes, if I can keep my eyes open, I’ll stay up late with him and make a midnight snack together – our most precious conversations seem to happen then.

But boy, do I long for the days when my little boy would slip his hand in mine. Things I thought I’d never miss, I miss desperately. Days I thought I’d never want to go back to, I’d give my right arm to go back just one more time.

I long for daily stroller walks and trips to get ice cream and pony rides. I’d even take those days when he freaked out if I served him anything but chicken nuggets and crustless sandwiches. 

Whereas parenting started out 24/7, these days I see him so much less. And, while I love seeing his independence and confidence soar, I miss my little boy.

He’s already in the second half of high school now. Soon enough he’ll be leaving the safe comforts of this nest I’ve spent years building and nurturing. Where is that dependent little boy who so desperately needed me? Now, it seems, he just needs me for food or a ride or a few bucks to buy a new gadget.

It’s taken me a while to truly understand and embrace this, but where we are today was always the goal. To raise a child who can fend for himself and venture into the world strong and capable and confident.

So, while I still don’t love when people say, “The days are long, but the years are short,” I understand it now. Especially when you’re raising teens. I might not do it all over again, and definitely not the same way, but if I did, it would certainly be different. 

I’d realize that (especially when you’re raising teens), 365 days are but a minute in the big scheme of things. I’d realize how fast 16 years can fly by… one day slowly folding into the next. I’d realize that while I always thought I had all the time in the world with my son, I surely didn’t. Time is fleeting. Each day is precious – yes, even the tough ones. And, mostly, I’d realize what a beautiful blessing and honor it has been to have had this precious front seat on my son’s journey to adulthood.

About Morgan Hill:

Morgan Hill is an essayist and humorist. She has written for many online and print publications including Insider, Your Teen Magazine, Revel, and MASK Magazine. She is the mother of freshman and senior sons in high school. When not writing, she can be found at flea markets, in her garden, photographing architecture, taking cooking classes, or eating the stinkiest cheese she can find. You can also find her on Twitter @MorganHWrites or Instagram @MorganHillWriter

If you enjoyed reading, “When You’re Raising Teens, The Days Are Long But the Years Really ARE Short,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy:

The Mental Load of Motherhood: The Side Our Family Never Sees

30 Quotes About Raising Teens that Will Tug at Your Heart

Raising Teens: I Wouldn’t Change This For the World

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