When your baby grows up.

Sometimes (often) I treat my daughter as if she is eight when in reality she is nearly sixteen. I still find myself thinking I should 'arrange' friends for her to 'play' with. Or tell her about things that I saw on my journey to work that would have entertained her at six years old but now are greeted with a stony stare and the snarky  (yet admittedly funny) response "cool story bro, do you have time to tell it again?"

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?

1 comment:

  1. Karen Butcher9/7/15

    To be honest, I never really thought about it much. C decided when she was going into the town with her mates, and I didn't have a lot of say in the matter. She's never been a one for nightclubbing, so that's been no problem, and only now at nearly 22, has a steady boyfriend, I don't even have to worry about sex - since she started going to church regularly, she's saving herself for marriage! Weirdly, that really bothers me - it's not a scenario I had considered at all. Her first driving lesson was nerve wracking for all concerned, and when she passed her test (at the fifth attempt) I felt nothing but relief!! Although watching her drive off alone for the first time was weird.

    Because of her cmt, the transition between school and collage was odd - literally three days after her prom, she was in hospital having surgery again, with the plaster being removed two days before the start of college, so she demanded lots of babying then anyhow! Although once she was walking on the plaster, she was off out with her mates regardless (even to the fair, in the rain - I wrapped her cast in cling film to keep it dry).

    She's actually in Loughborough now, staying at her boyfriends (meeting the parents) and didn't text me when she got there, (she drove) and i don't like that. If she's driving a long way, I want to know she's made it in one piece!

    I've just applied for J's provisional driving licence, so that's starting all over again. Hopefully, he'll get it quicker than C and it won't cost so much money to learn. But he won't leave the house anyhow, he spends all his time talking to mates on his computer - he's so different to her, it's like starting all over again!

    You just have to let them dictate the pace, and learn about the real world for themselves, I think - C has done much more travelling than I ever did - she's just come back from Uganda, working in a school (through church). Next hurdle for her is finding a job - she's just finished her degree - and then she'll be moving out.

    Now that will be hard, I think. Except the house will be tidier.....!


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