Our Teens Are Never Too Old To Celebrate Their Birthday

When my oldest was small, we did all the birthday things. I made countless homemade cakes. There were themes and decorations. We had tea parties with uncles as waitstaff. One year, we even had a spa night complete with teenage friends doing hair and painting nails. We tried our hand at a slumber party {once} and we even progressed to dinners out and concert tickets. These things were always special celebrations and made memories that we all still enjoy. And then she became a pre-teen. As the teen years approached, I made a deliberate decision:: we would never stop celebrating birthdays, and we would always make their day a day that reminded them of the joy they add to our family. 

Our Teens Are Never Too Old To Celebrate Their Birthday

The Bridge to The Big Kid Parties

Our Teens Are Never Too Old To Celebrate Their BirthdayI believe in celebrating the seasons. The teenager years are often shadowed by separation and rebellion. I was determined that in these years, we would honor the important season and celebrate – not run from – their maturity. When my oldest turned 13, I knew that her developing introverted self did not want us singing over cake with her grandparents, so we made a shift. She was a lover of music. She had already begun to appreciate live music and travel. We decided that her birthday celebration would be a mother/daughter trip. A music festival in Las Vegas seemed like a perfect destination for a 13 year old! Thanks to the headline entertainment of Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Echosmith and Taylor Swift, we had one of the best weekends in mother/daughter history.

Speaking Their Language

As a mom, the reality that you are no longer the center of their world can be soul crushing. They will always need me, right? Nope. Actually, sometimes, they need me to step back and allow them to grow without me being a centralized figure. But when it comes to celebrating the day that I brought these children into being, I will always be engaged. At 14, this looked like a scavenger hunt at the mall with Mom and Dad hiding in a restaurant. At 15, we paid for pizza and friends to surprise her for a meal. At 16, she was in a hard season. We did exactly what she needed…nothing. Sure, there was cake. There was also a trip to the DMV, but for that year, she just needed low key love. So that’s what we did. A boyfriend was introduced during the next year. She adores his family, so for our part of her birthday celebration, a teenage couple and their parents went to dinner. It was priceless. 

Celebrating Adulthood

Our Teens Are Never Too Old To Celebrate Their Birthday

When the 18th birthday approached, it felt heavy. She leaves for college in the fall. There is a very realistic chance that this is the last birthday that we will celebrate while living in the same household. My momma heart just hurts. A very strange thing has happened in the last 6 months. This girl is one of my favorite mature, wise and educated humans on the planet. I trust her. I enjoy her. She has absolutely become the kind of adult that I would treasure as a friend. With that in mind, we needed to celebrate…her. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take her on another adventure. This time, it would be an adult trip. We would eat fancy food. We would watch grown-up entertainment. We would sit {or walk} for hours and talk politics and faith and dreams. The week after she turned 18, we boarded a plane to New York. She had never been and watching her see places she has seen on shows and read about in books was beautiful. We saw Wicked on Broadway which took her back to seeing it as a child with her Mimi and her dance recital as a 10 year year-old. We went to American Girl store and were reminded of the amazing work that she has done as a teenager to love others. We sat over long meals and I was able to tell her how absolutely fabulous I think she is. To say that my mom heart was happy may just be the greatest understatement ever. 

The Best Sacrifice

There is not one mom I know that has tons of extra time, money or energy. I gave up things that I really wanted to do to be gone for 4 days. My husband and younger daughter made sacrifices for us to be gone. Setting aside time and allocating resources for a special celebration takes intention. What I need you to know, with all of my being, is that every single sacrifice was worth it tenfold. And one more thing, celebrations do not have to cost tons of money. We could have gone camping in the backyard for 4 days and it still would have made every moment perfect. This trip was all about us. Being away from demands and set apart from our normal routine to have on-on-one celebratory time. 

The Writing On the Unique Child Wall

I can already see that the same ideas will not adequately celebrate my second child. Just as they prefer different foods, colors, clothes and hobbies, my girls need their mom to know what brings them joy. When the time comes, I will listen to her individual life-story and celebrate her in a way that she can feel my love. We won’t be at a trampoline park. We may not even have a cake. If her life at 14 tells me anything, we will be adventuring or sporting. Wherever we are, we will be together and it will be a party. 

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