Why I Stay Up Late with My Teen Even Though I’m Exhausted

For starters, when the rest of the world is asleep, it's our time to connect...

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: Why I Stay Up Late with My Teen Even Though I’m Exhausted

Hormones are running high in my house. I wish I could report that every day with my son is great, full of bonding and meaningful conversation. But that would be untrue…

Sometimes he can literally go for what seems like days with barely a nod in my direction. Indecipherable grunts and requests for food mark our time “together.” I almost feel like drawing X’s on the calendar for each day he speaks to me for more than a few minutes! There would be few, though.

Where I long for hugs, he seems perfectly fine with none.

While I want to talk, he wants to retreat to his room.

Watch a movie? “No thanks, Mom.” Which in teen speak translates to a disgusted “Ugh!”

But sometimes, just sometimes, the sky parts and my boy becomes this open book – full of life, chattiness, enthusiasm, and wonderfulness that I just can’t get enough of…

Why I Stay Up Late with My Teen Even Though I’m Exhausted


“I want to spend time with you,” he’ll say.

He doesn’t want anything from me – not to practice driving, or permission to do something like go out with friends on a school night. He’s not trying to stall starting his inevitable homework or get out of walking the dog.

He just wants… me. Quality time, like we used to have all the time. I never know when these moments will present themselves, but most often it’s late at night when I, of course, am totally exhausted and ready to crawl into bed.

Sure, I may yawn. I may rub my eyes like the baby he was not too long ago. But I stay up for my son, with my son. Time with him under my roof is ticking down and I want to seize every moment. 

Do I wish this happened on a Saturday or Sunday morning instead of 10 p.m. on a Wednesday? Yes. Yes, I do. Because past 10 p.m. I’m practically useless. I’ve worked, cooked, cleaned, ran errands, exercised, and driven him to the end of the earth and back – I’m worn out physically and mentally, my brain is foggy and all I want to do is slide into bed, relax after a long day and watch a mindless streaming show.

Instead, I power through, grabbing hold of the chance for what I always hope for – precious quality time with my boy.

What we do together varies, but it almost always involves snacks. Sometimes, we just talk. He shares what he’s thinking, feeling, and wondering, without my prompting or questioning him. Other times we watch a show or movie.

We might do some video gaming or shoot baskets in his room. Or we may just sit around on our phones, keeping each other company – apart, yet wonderfully together.

It doesn’t matter what we do because we’re doing it together at his request and I never want to miss a chance to connect on HIS terms.

I jump at the chance to do any of these things, at any time, at a moment’s notice because I treasure these times.

I try not to show too much eagerness, because, well… I might seem a little too desperate.

But he can tell I’m excited about our time together. Knowing he’s sincere in wanting to hang out reassures me that our relationship is still strong, even when it seems, at times, that it’s strained. It also reassures me that even though he’s growing up and pulling away, it’s clear he still needs and wants me in his life.

Does this happen as often as I’d hope? Nope. It doesn’t. Friends are his top priority now, doing things teen boys do – hanging out, driving around (using up all my gas), eating at drive-thru restaurants (and then eating some more). But sometimes, just sometimes, he says “no” to his friends and he hangs out with me… and I’m there for that, no matter what.

Those late nights can be the best time with my teen and they surely beat anything else I could be doing. In fact, it’s the most important thing I could be doing because it brings us closer.

I know in my heart that in a few short years, I’ll be longing for late-night time with my son. Soon enough, he’ll be off to college, starting a new chapter in his life and living life to the fullest… without me.

My house will be quiet, his room will be clean, the laundry basket won’t be overflowing and the car will sit in the driveway far more than it does now. The mere thought of that breaks my heart.

So, I try to stay up. Even if I need toothpicks to hold my eyes open.

I try to be there when he needs me the most. And, when I do, I lay my head down at night knowing I tried, knowing I gave my son what he needed, and knowing we’ve made a few more memories he can tuck away in his back pocket. Mostly,  I know my son closes his eyes at night knowing his mom loves him more than anything in the world.

As parents, we never know what tomorrow will bring. But at least we can still relish in those late nights together with our teens. And those are memories we’ll cherish and treasure – even after our kids turn back into grumpy teens at the stroke of the morning alarm clock.

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, “Why I Stay Up Late with My Teen Even Though I’m Exhausted,” here are a few other posts you might like!

Why Late Night Conversations with My Teen are the Best

6 Ways to Connect with Your Teen: Step into Their World

101 Conversation Starters for Teens to Connect, Laugh and Get into Their Head

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