This Parenting Gig.....



It may be tempting fate to say it, but I often think that I've had a fairly straightforward ride as a parent. 
My daughter (my first-born) wasn't a great sleeper but apart from that I've had two very easy children who reached & passed each milestone just like that, they grew & moved on seamlessly.

They have no allergies, they are not fussy eaters & in almost 12 years, we've only visited the hospital once.

That's not to say that it's always felt easy....
even though my youngest is now 7, I still yearn for a really good night's sleep 
(I still sleep with one ear open, I wonder if all mothers do that....).
And, like many mothers I suspect, I always feel like I could do a better job of parenting.

I absolutely know that there is no such thing as the perfect parent & I am not in the business of comparing myself to friends or other mothers at school....
we all have our own journeys & stories.

I guess it's all about wanting to be the best at the job not just for your own children but also for yourself....as a mother you tend to have to pat yourself on the back, no one else really does it for you. We have to carry out self-assessments, there are no appraisals for us.

I'm not saying for one minute I haven't felt the day to day challenges of lack of sleep & the sheer exhaustion, the ringing ears brought on by a child who just will not stop talking & the sheer challenge of never having enough minutes in the day.

But on the other hand, I appreciate there are many who face greater battles & challenges than me.


Recently, however, I have felt things starting to change.
These last few months have been the most challenging of my parenting career!
So much is new, so much is different.   

My daughter began  secondary school at the age of 11 last September.
Almost all of her class moved up to the same school.
She loves the school, she appears to have settled very well.

I knew that just as she would be dealing with many changes, we too would be facing a steep learning curve as secondary school parents for the first time.

She now walks to school by herself, she has (many) friends who I have never met & instead of one teacher, she now has 12 or more teachers, it really is a whole new world.

Back in September, I tried to stop myself from asking 1,000,001 questions every time she arrived home.
I stepped back....a little.

Suddenly though I have felt almost overwhelmed by the responsibility of having an almost 12 year old young woman in my care. 
I feel as though everything I say to her must be words of wisdom, full of advice & meaning.
I want to give her more space & a little more independence....but still retain our closeness.

I don't know why I feel this exactly since this has always been my general approach....
maybe though it's because suddenly she seems much closer to the Big Wide World.

She now has a mobile phone, she listens to music she has bought herself, she no longer likes to eat things that last week were her-absolute-favourite-things-ever.
Her room is now strictly off limits to her brother....and, imagine this, she doesn't even want to play Monopoly with us ;)

She's making more of her own decisions. And she doesn't always agree with mine.

And....wait for it....when I commented on something she was wearing the other day, she responded  (albeit in the nicest possible way) with "this is how everyone wears it, this is style".
(said in the way that only an 11 year old girl can say it)
Seriously. I know ;)

Childhood passes so quickly and now I feel as though I am on a new roller-coaster ride....
The ride will stop & suddenly she will be 18 and off to University.

I think I still thought she'd be my "little girl" for a while longer.
Sometimes she appears to be almost 12 but going on 15.
She's also grown almost overnight & is now an inch taller than me.

She bright, she's happy, she's kind, she's made new friends really easily & she has a confidence that I never had at her age....it's all good as they say.


But sometimes as a parent, it's bitter-sweet....and that's definitely how I am feeling.
It's a strange time.
Parenting is always an adventure....not for the faint-hearted!!

You move from phase to phase when they are younger & almost don't realise it....
this has been our biggest change yet.
I should feel completely happy with how her start at the new school has gone, yet a part of me feels unsettled.
And a little bit sad too.
There are parts of her life now that I am not a part of at all. And that is an odd feeling.
Before I knew everyone in her life & now I don't.

When they grow up, I hope my children will travel the world, have wonderful adventures, live and maybe work abroad just like I've done....
on the other hand, I can't imagine not seeing them every day.
You want so much for them yet when those dreams are fulfilled, you cannot always predict how you will feel.

It's just different that's all. Good-different, not bad-different.
The rhythm has altered. 

The threads that bind us together....
sometimes they may loosen but the connection is always there.
Some days you just need to remind yourself of that.
   

16 comments:

  1. oh siomone, you express it all so well. my daughters are 13 & 16 and it is my daily challenge to maintain the connection. not too much nagging or inquiring but being there if required.
    i'm off to try & make bread now.

    louise

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hello dear blog friend! Long time no read :-) I hear you on rollercoasters and changes. My children are still small, yet I fear the day my daughters walk out of our door without me holding their hands.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh S...this made me cry! I feel for you I really do and am dreading that day when it comes too..as surely it will. Changes are often difficult to face - especially when they are momentous and involve your kids. I think you being you, you'll do a wonderful job of keeping that thread bound with just the right tension. And can I come to you for advice when its my turn??
    Love the sleek new blog look by the way...and am hoping you can make this Monday with Lou??
    A big hug my friend xxx

    ReplyDelete
  4. Don't be too sad. I have taught this age (11 turning 12) for 21 years. It is THE biggest year of change for kids. They are caught between 2 worlds. They want to play, to run, to hold hands....but instead they try to be grown-up...they think they know it all, and love to tell you that you don't!

    Be specific with questions....How was English class today? What is a new word you learned in French class? Even, what color nailpolish are the girls wearing these days?

    Ask about hopes and dreams and the future. Encourage....gently.

    Don't be afraid to put limits, or tell her when you are upset.

    It's even ok to say NO!

    This age level craves structure...they just don't know it! They need you to handle that part.

    I have a 9 year old girl headed this way fast, and it scares me so! She is very independent, the others flock to her...I am trying to teach her to be a role model and leader. (of course this is the same little girl who cut her denim skirt with scissors one morning before Kindergarten (age 5) to look "more stylish".)

    And boys are SOOOO different! Our son turned 14 yesterday...totally different experience.

    Don't fret....make a special spot where she can have friends over after school to do homework or socialize....it's always good to be the house where the kids want to go...much easier to keep a handle on things!

    Hope things improve! Keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh. I do feel for you, Simone - you are heading into some interesting times. Having gone through this with both my children, I will say a girl at age 12 is a whole new species, my son was very easy always. My advice to you is try to know who she is hanging around with, give her the independence she wants within limits and definitely don't be afraid to say no. I never had a true problem with my kids but they will try to test you at times - dont fret if you have doors slammed, " I hate you'" shouted at you amongst many things. The best you can do is encourage them endlessly, love them, be there for them when they want to talk. I shed many a tear thru my daughters teen years as did she - when she was 12 we moved to another part of the state where she knew only me and Alex, away from her family and friends and she was not happy about it - thankfully she made a great group of friends ( and their parents are my best friends today) and she thrived. It was the best move I ever made. Your daughter will be fine - with you by her side, I have no doubt, my friend! xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello Simone,

    I love your blog but have been caught up in my own world of work recently and have missed you.
    Your relationship with your daughter reminded me of my own with my mother. I certainly tested her during those years. The energy and courage at this age is powerful. Your loving way and intelligence will see you through. As my other later said she handled us with three things: unconditional love, unconditional love and unconditional love

    Helen

    ReplyDelete
  7. I understand every word you say, Simone...I remember these feelings so well...it is yet another stage and your daughter, as you say, is spreading her wings and so she should be...I'm sure in not too long it will be you she comes to and needs to talk to and then your relationship takes another turn, an even deeper connection in this wonderful mother/daughter relationship...somebody once told me when Victoria was 13...you've done all the work now you're just here to nudge them now and again in the right direction...and because you have done all the work...that is where you are now. Everything will be alright but it is an ever changing relationship and we just have to learn to let them go so they know exactly where to come back too. I have to admit I never realised what a complicated role being a Mother is...they say you never truly understand your Mother until you become one; there's some truth in that, don't you think. Sending you a BIG HUG.
    Catherine
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. Beautiful (and oh so true!) words spoken from the heart as usual Simone. Watching the way you have mothered O from day one, I have no doubt your mothering instincts will continue to guide you...as you guide her through this next phase. And you are correct...parenting is NOT for the faint-hearted. LOVE the new look to your blog BTW!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello sweet - ahh you know I am there with you every step of the way - having children EXACTLY the same age. Boo is similar - of course - it's a rite of passage for 11 year old girls. I have some friends whose children have stayed in prep school until 13 and they are closeted in a much easier environment. Our girls have gone out and faced the world at 11 and whilst I think that is great - it's what I did - it is also a major exposure to the grown up world that frankly I don't think you or I were ready for! Like your daughter, Boo is finding her way. She has friends I don't know, asks for advice about boys, rolls up her school skirt etc etc. I so know what you mean about feeling that every conversation needs to be meaningful advice! Our car journeys in the morning have turned into some very serious matters - drugs, relationships, bullying - you name it! Ugh.

    The fact is - it's better to be aware and ready. I know it makes you heavy-hearted but we must remember that this is a phase just like the rest. Do we need to read that new book on raising girls? I read a review of it - it said that 11 year old girls need to find their 'spark' and when they do everything is fine ;-)

    Just search for that spark then...
    L xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. Simone, I've been to this post twice today trying to gather my thoughts, but each time I've been interrupted by busy details that must happen before Patrick returns to college. He leaves tomorrow and this morning I laid in bed and felt the pangs of sadness wash over me. I'm fine once he goes, but I still find good byes with my son a bit hard. Do you see how timely your post is for me?
    You've described the essence of mothering so well here. The watching and learning. The curious new signs of a budding identity. The stepping back and letting go. And of course, the tender aches of a loving mother.
    I've always liked this Ann Quinlan quote on parenting: "Being a parent... is the ultimate
    pay-it-forward endeavor; we are good parents not so our children will be loving enough to stay with us,
    but so they will be strong enough to leave us."
    Sigh. I'm so glad we can support each other through these different stages of mothering.
    xo
    Leslie (aka Gwen Moss)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful post, Simone - so beautifully written. Although I can't relate to it just yet, I do often wonder how my parents feel, seeing me and my brother grow up, travel, being independent ... I think that it must be so strange for them in a way, and they are always so happy to see/hear from us, it's really sweet. I was going to say "best of luck with this phase" but that sounds a little weird ... but then I don't quite know what else to say! Really I just think that your daughter sounds lovely; she obviously takes after you :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wonderfully said. I am a new reader and my daughter is now 24 yrs old. She has gone through her ups and downs and I guess the one thing I've learned (that nobody tells you) is that parenting NEVER ends. Even at her age now, I dread it when the phone rings late at night, because it is never anything good. I have realized over the years, that your children can hurt you more than anyone else and that never ends either. And when I say hurt, I don't mean they hurt you on purpose (although sometimes they do). I just mean that everytime they hurt, you do too. Someone should tell us that before we conceive or at least when we're pregnant, or somewhere along the line. It was and still is the parenting thing I grabble with most. Stay as close to them as they will let you, and hang on, cause it's a roller coaster ride.
    Cindy

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's good to read your words and all the comments here. My daughter is 13 and very much a 'teenager' with her new found attitude that I often find difficult to accept. Her changes are also mine so I can relate to every thing you've said here.

    CJ x

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm going through exactly the same thing with my daughter, she started big school in September also.

    What keeps me going on the days when I feel sad are the thoughts of her cuddles and kisses - she still loves to snuggle into me watching TV in the evening. And despite the fact she thinks she is ever so grown up, right about everything and thinks I'm a total dinosaur, I know she still needs me.

    I hover between being too overprotective and taking a step back, giving her space and telling her what to do. It's a make-it-up-as-you-go-along situation with an 11-year-old I think, but I tell myself she will be fine. She will grow into a kind, independent, happy woman, and at least some of that will be down to me.

    I will be the same for you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I smile when I read this because I can ~ not having one of my own ~ right! With that being said ~ my girls are now 18 and 13 ~ I love how much Sam takes after our side of the family ~ but they are forced nowadays to grow up so fast I think. And the drama ~ was there THAT much drama when we were growing up ~ I think not! You have given her the wings she needs to fly and with the personality that she has I know she will just soar. Hold onto that little boy a bit longer though ~ snuggles and Mum will still be around awhile... xo

    ReplyDelete

« »
Related Posts with Thumbnails

The Bottom of the Ironing Basket All rights reserved © Blog Milk Powered by Blogger