When your baby grows up.
At sixteen many places will see her as an adult, she can legally have sex (even typing that gave me chills), she will pay adult fares to many events and on public transport unless she remains a student, she can get married (with permission) , she can buy a pet ... and many other things (see http://www.mumsnet.com/teenagers/legal-rights-at-16 ) weirdly she can't drink champagne at her own wedding reception (though she could have a beer as long as someone over eighteen buys it) . Sixteen is a weird inbetween age and so it confuses me, she is still my baby, my child but at the same time she's a young woman with her own life to lead. She lives under a roof I pay for so I think I have rights in the rules she abides to but still it's hard to know what is stupid and draconian, and what is lax and dangerous for a Sixteen year old.
I have never had the responsibility for a 'proto-adult' before, years of being a mum hasn't prepared me for this. Entertaining a small child, keeping her fed and happy and healthy seems like a breeze compared to the trauma of deciding where she can go alone, when she should be back, who she should hang out with, how much she should stay in contact. You remember the stress I felt when she was at a festival without me for only one day and yet soon it will be everyday, out at college, or with friends. Life is expanding beyond our home for her and at the same time the world is changing in ways I haven't seen. While suddenly I can be in touch with a child via mobile phone anywhere, it also causes panic when she doesn't answer. She will be old enough to get a moped but the streets are more filled with vehicles than ever, even crossing the road is so much more dangerous than when i was a child, she can have social media accounts (and, and this is the worst bit, not let me know!) She has a whole life away from me and as this thread between us grows ever thinner it's terrifying.
When I read (and wrote) posts about the pain of having to stop breastfeeding your child, I didn't imagine I'd feel the same pain all over again as she grew up. She is so pretty and so clever (yes I know, I'm her mum I would say that, but she is!) I know that she can do well in life, but every risk, every worry seems heightened suddenly.
Don't think by the way that I have too rosy a view of her, she an infuriating teen a lot of the time, a child who answers back, doesn't do her homework, sneaks sweets into her room (which she never tidies) and generally makes me think about selling her for medical experiments; but she is my infuriating teen. My love, my life.
I need to learn to let go. Because if I don't I'll spoil both our lives. But it's terribly hard. I imagine I'll go through all of this again when she leaves home. Maybe once (if?) she starts to pay her way in the home it will be easier to see her as an adult. But right now it feels like a seesaw precariously balanced between childhood and adulthood. One day tipping one way and the next the other, maybe once the seesaw clunks down on the side of adulthood this will all be easier but right now it feels so hard.
Are you the parent of a teen? How did you cope? Do you still baby your teen or have you managed to see them as another adult in the house?
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