That's what it takes.
When our kids were little, people would say, "Oh, wait 'til he is a teenager," or "Enjoy this time now, she won't want to be with you later."
I still hear people say this, but it's usually said to friends of mine with smaller children.
I don't think it's true.
With three kids in that preteen/teen age (12, 14, 16), I don't think it's true at all.
But there's a secret to staying close to your teens. That secret is time.
In the "tween" or middle school years, I've noticed, our kids need my time. They need a lot of it. They need so much of it that it's like they are toddlers again.
They need time in the late evenings when they want to talk. They need time to visit their friends, so we invite them over, which takes time to prepare and supervise. They need time to learn how to interact with "real life" experiences like bank tellers and cashiers and asking a girl to swing dance. They need time to be alone, but knowing you are right there, waiting if they need you.
Our oldest child, 16, is by now a confident young man who knows himself and has his morals and ethics in place so concrete that it wouldn't matter if we disagreed with him (thankfully, we don't).
The 12 and 14 year olds, however, are still in that "molding" phase. They are like clay, moldable by whatever influences them most. I don't feel worthy of this job I have, but it's one that God gave to only me. I am their mother. So I have to assume that God knew what he was doing when he gave this child to me. And so, I mold.
But molding clay takes time. Lots and lots of time. So much time that other plates that I usually juggle have to be dropped.
Just like when they were toddlers.