Teenage kicks...

posted on: Thursday, 16 October 2014

Have you ever come across one of those women who had a baby (or three) and was so ensconced with the whole birth/motherhood process that they decided to retrain as a midwife? I looked on in awe and interest, as I knew a friend who did this; taking a career U-turn after 40 to follow her new calling. I do get it, I sense now that as I enter the teenage phase (six months down, many, many to go) that this is a stage that I am very interested in. If I were to categorise when I most clearly remember things in my life, it would be my teens. I have almost perfect recall. Great swathes of my twenties went missing and as for my thirties; honestly there are shamefully few memories of the 2000's. To the extent that I consider the 00's to be one big blur. I attribute this to the baby/toddler-related haze that descended on me once I had children. Sleepless nights and baby milk spillage seemed to be a frequent facet of my life for longer than I care to remember. And yet they, in some ways, were the sweetest of times.

As for the teenage parental haze - that is what I am in now. The virulently changing mood swings. The outlandish demands for all sorts of things - from another sleepover to the latest pair of ripped jeans - that come my way it seems, on an hourly basis. The very sensitive soul who sits upstairs in her bedroom and I never quite know who or what will emerge. The endless phone use. That bloody phone. The extreme secrecy followed by the disarming openness. I wrestle daily with finding my place in this particular mile of the parenting journey. Safe in the knowledge that I must never veer into the territory of Regina George's mother in 'Mean Girls'. But equally finding my feet as a fair but loved mother to a teenage girl is no easy feat. There are curve balls. Galore. It's a whole different ball game.

Unlike previous phases of parenthood (it's all broken down into distinct phases, take comfort in the fact: nothing lasts forever!) this one feels particularly weighted with the need to get it right. Previous preoccupations with manners and eating vegetables and playing nicely (share!) seem less relevant in the face of the need to help form an almost fully grown human, set loose in society. She needs love, support, shepherding and teaching but not smothering and limiting. It's the most delicate manoeuvre.

We talk a lot, I consciously decided to face topics head on (no blushes spared). This means I have covered all sorts in recent months, from gay marriage to kindness to depilation to divorce. Nothing is off limits and whilst I appreciate that what I think about these elements of life is not the only factor in how she will regard them, I do feel responsible for at least setting the tone of what our family believe and how we feel people should be treated. We discuss a lot of 'what ifs' in order to flush out her thinking (and mine) on what is right and wrong. There is degree of hypothetical, but I can also sense that most subjects we talk about, she has already seen in her on line world. In this modern age, there is very little that is unknown to her. I have to assume that she has seen it all already and it's my job to now define the moral compass around all of that (often unwelcome and premature) input.

However I am resilient enough to see, from friends who have been through this stage before me, that it may have nothing to do with how I try to influence things. She will make up her own mind and frankly, I am deluding myself to think I have that much sway. I am the mother. That is all.

And so, I keep on...searching out the good and dispelling the bad and generally trying to think straight. Asking friends when I need help. Trying not to over think it! She's the apple of my eye and I look at her burgeoning adulthood with awe; she's the coolest girl I know.

via a well traveled woman


  1. I don't think you are giving yourself enough credit. Yes, you are only the mother. And yes, she will make up her own mind. But never discount the guidance you have given her - it's far more valuable too her than you realize.

  2. Gigi is absolutely right. Don't underestimate the value of what she has learnt from both you and her Father. You are doing just fine. x x x