Opinion: I've reached the stage where I can do no right as a Mum
- Credit: Ruth Davies
People warn you about having a new-born.
Everything changes dramatically, your hormones are all over the place and there will likely be moments when you think what have I done or, I don’t think I can do this?
You’re reassured and people pop over with food, flowers and offers to hold the fort while you weep and wee. Help, hope and heartfelt understanding…
That first new-born is a struggle as you adapt to keeping another human alive while still trying to look after your own basic needs.
If I’m honest though, looking back, I made a massive meal out of one small baby who didn’t move.
What WAS I finding so hard I wonder now? Because the real shock, the one they, and by “they” I mean the seasoned parents already in the battle-field, don’t warn you about, is phase two; when that new-born hits high school and is suddenly a half grown-up!
I suppose my Mum did used to say to me “I hope one day you have a teenage daughter, THEN you’ll understand!”
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Perhaps that was my heads up. I shrugged it off like she was being dramatic and rolled my eyes with my friends at how unreasonable my Mum was to not let me out all hours and insisting I wear a coat.
I’m beginning to see though, as I now call things to Florence, stood in the waft of her perfume as she leaves for school, like “Where’s your jumper? You can’t go out like that!” and she shrugs back at me like I couldn’t be less in touch, almost certainly with an accompanying eye roll.
We’ve reached that stage where I can do no right.
Her friends came over and they liked me. I’d done wrong. I shouldn’t have been so friendly.
I wondered out loud if they had hated me, thought me a tyrant, would that have been better?
I suggested next time maybe I should try not to make eye contact as I serve the food and bow back out of the room gracefully, having undisturbed them in my delivery of sustenance.
I was met with another wither. I just don’t understand, she is right when she says that!
My eldest son turned 10 yesterday and I’m so aware, now that we’ve done this bit with his big sister, double digits mean I’m on borrowed time for him being my little boy.
He was stuck to me like glue two minutes ago but that’s already changing.
He’ll still slip his hand in mind on the way home from school but when he registers he’s done it, he’ll smile, squeeze tightly, then let it go less any of his friends see.
I like the days he doesn’t notice, it’s one of the reasons I don’t want to let him walk home alone yet as I cherish that moment in the day knowing it won’t last.
It happens ever so suddenly. One minute they’re playing with dolls and Lego, the next being all hair flicky or conversing only with a head set and a screen.
Florence as a little girl dancing around in princess dresses has turned in the blink of an eye. She is mostly an absolute joy, just as she always has been, but not always, and I’m so not used to parenting this bit.
Sometimes I think what have I done, and can I do this?
It's the hardest stage we’ve found yet as comparatively it’s easy to see what to do when they’re little, overtly displaying their good and bad bits.
This high school era and the writing is very definitely not on the wall. Believe me, hard as it was with a new baby, I’d rather deal with my own raging hormones than those belonging to someone else.
And the thing that makes it more terrifying is that she’s not like me. I’m in completely unchartered territories.
If she was worried about spots, boys and being allowed to stay up late, well, I can remember all that. But she’s worried about things which are so alien I find myself at a loss for words because yet again, I just don’t get it.
She works hard and wants to do well. At her age I did the bare minimum and if I scraped through an exam I was happy. Florence wants to ace it all and gets super stressed if she doesn’t hit at least near 100pc.
She’s finding some subjects tricky, ones like chemistry which she didn’t do in primary, and though she’s passing, isn’t happy because she wants top marks.
I tell her there’s only one way to go if you’re at the top, but that advice is as unacceptable as when I agreed her extra-curricular activities might eat into her study time.
She mooted it but my agreement suddenly made it wrong.
Navigating the world of a half grown-up is pretty wild and frankly, if anyone wants to come over with food, flowers and offers to hold the fort so that I can weep and wee, I’ll be here for it.
All good advice welcome!