Mothering teenagers is really tricky. It’s very different to mothering babies. I get far more time by myself than when the girls were little but when they do need me it’s for high level issues such as friendships, boyfriends, exam choices/results, disappointments and deep upsets. The kind of thing where kissing it better just doesn’t cut it.
I saw a quote once that said something like ‘Mothering teenagers is really hard – what I wouldn’t give to worry about sippy cups and nap time.’
That’s kind of how I feel right now. I wish that their worries were things that I could easily fix but they aren’t. I wish the girls would realise that I really do know how they feel because I have been there. I try to remind myself that it’s a right of passage to think that your parents are so old that they cannot possibly have any recollection of how tough teenage life is. That’s true to an extent but you can always see the hurt in your child’s eyes and remember it in your own heart when they tell you about friends being mean or trying their best at school and not feeling that it’s enough.
Blah! I wish it were easier. The girls will be ok in their own time. They are talking to me about how they feel for which I am so very grateful. Even if they don’t want to talk, creating the space for it when they do is so important. It is tiring though – watching out for those spaces and living with teenage angst. The mothering road is never smooth – I’ve come to realise that it’s not supposed to be.
These are some of the things I do that help me and they might help you too however old your children are:
– keep all avenues of communication open. ALL avenues. I stopped communicating with my mum when I was quite young. I hid lots of my worries and we don’t share much now. Always let your children know that they can talk to you about anything and you will listen. The girls very, very often don’t want an answer but want to talk it out. Write notes if they don’t want to talk. I pop notes under pillows and in school bags.
– choose your battles. Even with little ones, there are some things that it simply isn’t worth fighting over. Yes, the girls leave their crap everywhere but when there are higher level issues going on, I don’t worry about that.
– check partners are on the same page and up to date with what’s going on. Keri has been know to have a rant at one of the girls without realising that they have had a really crappy day and need lots of TLC. He also has an annoying habit of thinking that humour will work – IT DOES NOT. The teenage sense of humour is different. I have no idea quite how but it is. Only laugh if you are 100% sure that it is appropriate. It’s a bit like never, ever congratulate someone on being pregnant unless you are 500% sure that they are.
– every child is different. What works for one absolutely does not work for the other. Navigate carefully.
– do not expect to know what you are doing. There is no way that you can. You’re learning on the job and you mustn’t feel bad about that.
– be honest. If you have no answer – tell your children this when they are old enough to understand. Fathom some things out together. Work as a team. This lets your children know that what they think, feel and suggest are valid and important. Again, you are not supposed to know everything.
– allow all emotions. Please don’t tell your babies to man up or pull themselves together when they are really sad. Let them be sad for a while and be there when they are ready to talk to you.
– look after yourself lots. Your self care is of paramount importance. I haven’t looked after myself so well this week and that’s why I have found it much harder. You do need to keep your cup full of the good stuff and never, ever feel guilty about it. You can’t be fully there for your family if you’re not fully there for you as well. You know that this is right. Have that coffee with a friend even iuf you are bonkers busy. It will make you feel a million times better. I schedule facials into my work diary to make sure that I get them every month. I deserve them.
– spend family time together. Meal times, watching TV times, relaxing times. Being together doesn’t have to be going somewhere. In fact, the girls really like to kick back, wear their comfies and completely switch off. We have Sunday night movie time as a family. It’s lovely to still have this as they get bigger.
– try your best to accept that your heart is going to break a little bit when something challenges your babies. Make sure you have a fabulous gang of other mums to catch you when you fall. The falling is normal. It’s being helped back up again that’s so important. You need other mums to remind you that it will be ok.
– love and mother in your own way. You really are the best mum for your children. When they push you away – they still love you. They will always love you. Give them time and let them know that they can always, always come back.
Please remember that life is challenging. It’s heartbreaking sometimes. We can fix some heartbreaks but not all. Whatever happens; you have me and you have lots of people who adore you. We all see you and think that you are amazing.
You also have to remember to allow yourself to be loved. I’ve not always picked up that memo but, as I get older, I value more and more the love of my family and my friends and I let them in. I’m honest about how I feel. Being willing to allow that love in gives me the strength I need to get though my tough times. Knowing that you’re reading this note helps me to feel stronger because you have given me space to express how I feel. You give me a safe Writing Circle and I am really grateful to you for that. Thank you. You make a difference to me.