Preparing smoothie kits for the freezer is one way teenagers can make rushed weekday mornings easier. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Preparing smoothie kits for the freezer is one way teenagers can make rushed weekday mornings easier. (Jennifer Bardsley)

From toddler to teenager, time with your growing child flies

Her son is only 14, and yet this mother already knows she better not take his presence for granted.

When my son was 2 years old, he’d wake up at 5:50 a.m. raring to go. I’d pick him up from his crib, and we’d drive to Lowes as soon as it opened and cruise the tool aisles for fun. After a solid 30 minutes of pretending to ride the lawn mowers, we’d collapse in a patio swing. I’d rock him to sleep and wish I had drunk more coffee. Those days seem like a lifetime ago, but also like yesterday.

Today, my son’s alarm clock rings at 5:50 a.m. and he’s up and at ’em before I climb out of bed. As a high school freshman, his days are long. School starts at 7:20 a.m. and his sports program doesn’t end until 8 p.m. Add homework and chores to the mix, and his schedule is grueling. I want to help him, but what’s a mom to do?

When my son was a toddler, I’d set out a bowl of dry cereal and a creamer full of milk so he could “make” breakfast for himself. He’d pour the milk into the bowl, and if he spilled it was no big deal, because it wasn’t the full carton. Sometimes he’d drag a chair over to the kitchen sink and “wash” the dishes. I’d mop the scene up with a bath towel and rewash everything when he wasn’t looking.

Now, my son is the master of efficiency. Every other week we go to the grocery store and he purchases ingredients to meal-prep smoothies. He lays glass containers on the counter in a mass assembly line and makes 14 breakfasts at once. Berries, oats, bananas and chia seeds; sometimes he adds spinach to be extra healthy. All the kits go into the freezer.

On weekday mornings, when I blunder into the kitchen for my first cup of java, my son blends his breakfast and washes the pitcher as soon as he’s finished. Sometimes I rewash the pitcher after he leaves for school, but only because chia seeds get stuck.

When my son was 2, we’d read books together on the couch by the living room window. We called it the “cozy corner” and spent at least an hour a day plowing through library books. There was a toy kitchen in front of the fireplace and a big container of wood blocks that was usually dumped on the floor. I dreamed of alone time. Heck, I would have even settled for 15 minutes of silence. We were together every second of every day.

Now my son is almost never home. I barely see him except when I drive my Mom Taxi, or slide a dinner plate in front of him that I reheated in the microwave. The days of continual togetherness are over. The living room is clean. The cozy corner is empty. The house is blanketed by quiet.

I know in my heart that yesterday, today or tomorrow, when the clock says 5:50 a.m. and my son is down the hall, I better not take his presence for granted. It’s a glorious time to wake up when it’s for someone you love.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

Talk to us

More in Life

Andrew Vait, left to right, Annie Jantzer and Linzy Collins of The Little Lies rehearses Monday evening in Everett, Washington on May 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Music at the Marina series concludes today with The Little Lies, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band.

Josh Haazard Stands inside his workspace, the HaazLab, where he creates a variety of cosplay props and other creative gadgets, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at his home in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
This contraption crafter turns junk into sci-fi weaponry

Joshamee “The Chief” Haazard is a costume prop maker in Monroe. He transforms trash into treasure.

For your kids’ sake, stress less about their grades this school year

Don’t make a big deal over grades. Instead, encourage out-of-classroom activities and remember, learning is supposed to be fun.

A bald eagle flys over Howarth Park back to it’s perch on Friday, April 22, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Learn how to photograph birds in three-part workshop

Participants will learn to make appealing, sharp bird photos even if they are new to photography.

The Snohomish County PUD recently installed two electric vehicle fast chargers adjacent to public parking stalls on the north side of the Electric Building.
PUD installs fast chargers for electric vehicle drivers

Funding for the t62.5-kilowatt chargers came in part from fines paid by Volkswagen over its 2015 diesel engine scandal.

Airbnb host cancels, and now he has to pay $1,300 more

When Curtis Rahman’s Airbnb host cancels his reservation a day before his arrival, he tries to find a substitute apartment. But the new property is smaller and costs more. Is a $200 credit enough to make up for the trouble?

At the prehistoric fortress of Dun Aengus, the dramatic west cliffs of Ireland meet the turbulent sea as Europe comes to an abrupt end. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Enjoy the simple life on Ireland’s starkly beautiful Aran Islands

Three limestone islands make up the Aran Islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

American Queen changes COVID protocols; can I get a refund?

fter American Queen changes its COVID protocols, Patricia Voorhees Furlong and her husband want to skip their river cruise. Is that allowed? Or, will they lose out on $7,858?

Erika Weinert, an Everett-based mother, editor and now author, sits at her home workspace and holds her first published book, “Cursing with Style” on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
What the @#$%! Everett mom publishes a dictionary of curse words

Erika M. Weinert, 42, a copy editor who does business as The Werd Nerd, wrote “Cursing with Style.”

The 2022 Lexus GX has a 301-horsepower V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and full time all-wheel drive. (Lexus)
Updated 2022 Lexus GX 460 expands list of standard features

Navigation and a 10.3-inch multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included.

Bruce Johnson has an exhibit on the history of clowns at the Lynnwood Library in Lynnwood, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Clown historian takes the funny business very seriously

Bruce Johnson, a.k.a “Charlie the Juggling Clown,” wants to pass his craft down to future generations.

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community