I’m facing a stage of parenting that I’ve unused to. It’s a stage I’ve not got much experience with, other than when I myself was at that stage, which seems a long time ago. I can do newborns and babies, I can do toddlers, I can do high needs children, and none of that phases me. This new phase we’re entering is the teenage years.
She’s only ten, but it’s rapidly approaching. She’s growing up, both physically and emotionally (and it’s very emotional at times, both for her and her often bewildered mum & dad!) and we are all learning as we go, how to approach all sorts of things.
I often feel like the teenage years are seen as a negative experience and it’s talked about as something to fear and be scared of. I guess in a way it can be nerve wracking. Too suddenly have this person who was your baby, who now is entering the early stages of adulthood and all that entails, with body changes, hormones, sexuality, needing looser boundaries, being able to make choices for themselves, more freedom, and you are letting them go, and you have less control as they learn to face the world around them. Getting things right, helping them navigate the world they are growing into, the choices they will make, the mistakes they will make (because they will, it’s part of growing up) and dealing with them becoming adults but also still being your “child” is challenging. I will admit I am pretty nervous about getting it as right as possible. I want to be there for my daughter as she navigates this bit of her life, I want her to know she can always talk to me, no matter what, that I’m there, that I’ll help her, and have her back but I also want to be able to guide her if she will let me. I also have to let go, and let her step into this new stage. She will go off with friends without me, she won’t always tell me what’s going on in her head, or her life, and there certainly will be things that I may not agree or like, but I have to handle those so she trusts me enough to still keep talking to me.
I want to face this new thing, we are stepping into, in as positive a way as possible. I don’t want to speak negatively about teenagers and being the mother of a tweenager soon to be a teenager, around her. Just like I was excited to have a newborn, I want to be excited about having a teenager around.
I know there will be times when I want to pull my hair out, when she makes me angry. I’m pretty sure she will feel the same about me (it’s already happening) and there will be frustrations and emotions and issues we need to deal with. But also there will be amazing times, and even now, I catch my breath and my heart feels like it may burst when I see the woman she may become, balanced out by the frustration of yet again reminding her that she needs to tidy her room enough that I can see the floor and that sometimes her Dad and I will seem like the meanest parents in the world, when we have to enforce boundaries!
It’s a whole new adventure. It’s coming at us fast. In less than six years she’ll be considered an “adult” in terms of certain things she will be able to do/society’s expectations (I’m still not quite ready to face that!) and in 8, she will going out into the world, and the job we do, and the input from us now, will be evident. Hopefully in a positive way.
So, here we go… I’m excited, I’m a bit nervous, but I’m going to accept it’s happening and I’m going to face it like the rest of our parenting journey, doing my best, and learning as I go, trying to keep in mind how I felt at her age and going into the teenage years. I do have an advantage in that she’s a lot like me (with her father’s stubborn streak and sense of humour for good measure) so I hopefully can use that to help both of us as we ride this bit of the rollercoaster. I think this bit of parenting will teach me more about myself, that can’t be a bad thing either…