My teenage years were... lets just say different to most teenagers. At 14, something happened and i grew up fast, much faster than most teens my age and for the next 3 years i was miserable, sunk into a depression, started failing at school and more horribly started stealing from my parents. Then at 16 i grew up much much faster as i found out i was pregnant. Whizzing forward 12 years, i am now 29 with a nearly 12 year old daughter and recently found myself having a conversation with her about my firsts. My first day at school, my first kiss, my first boyfriend, the first time i went out without my mum. The sudden realization that she is no longer a kid, hit me like a tonne of bricks!
She is now at secondary school and the way she handled it has amazed me. She shows such remarkable maturity for someone so young that i find myself wondering why i sit here crapping my pants every time she walks out the door. I refuse to believe she is no longer toddling around the kitchen floor trying to shake a plastic bag off her foot! The front of my fridge is no longer covered top to bottom with her masterpieces and the mess i am cleaning up is no longer toys. I knew this day was coming, i spent the whole year preparing her for it and thought i was ready. It turned she was raring to go and me... i turned into a robot and just went along with it.
3 weeks in the inevitable happened, something that knocked me for 6 and started off the conversation where she wanted to know my firsts. Kirsty found her first boyfriend! She is no longer my baby! She has now ventured into the big bad world and while i can still protect her to some extent, i am fully aware of the things which will happen that i can not stop, the things i can not warn her about as she needs to find out on her own. Right now this boy is the love of her life and when i see her talk about him her face lights up and she looks genuinely happy. Every part of me is desperate to tell her he isn't the one. I want to prepare her for when the inevitable happens. They will break up and she is going to believe that it is her fault. I am her mum and my job is to stop her feeling like that but i cant get involved. She must go through that to find out who she is, she must feel that way so that she knows how to deal with it in the future, so she knows its ok and normal to experience a loss. I sympathise with my mum as she would have known this too when i was happily talking about my first love and it pains me that i know the only thing i can do is sit on the end of her bed and cuddle her while she cries it out. I do of course also know that the pain will go as quick as it come when the next crush comes along... but i wont spoil that feeling for her either!
As i sat there talking about my firsts i was careful not to give too much information. I didnt want to tell her that i wasn't in love until i was 19, that my first heartache come when i was 21 and pregnant with her sister. She didnt need to know how the boys before him were so insignificant that i can not remember their names! I told her who my crush was when i was in school, i dressed it up to be amazing and when she asked me why i never asked him out i told her the truth... i didnt want to. I never actually wanted to date him, it was just a silly school girl crush, abit of fun. At the time i thought he was gods gift and me and school friends would talk about who we fancied till the cows come home. She didnt need to know that she wouldnt experience what really fancying the pants off someone meant till she was much older. She told me she had her first kiss, her first real kiss! What was i supposed to say to that? I smiled and told her that brilliant news, she was happy i couldnt ask for anything more. Now comes the much bigger issue. She has started her monthlies, she knows how babies are made. I needed to sit down with her and talk about respecting herself and waiting until she is ready. A conversation i was neither prepared for or wanted to go into till she was a couple of years older. She asked me about my first, curious i suppose but not something i wanted to talk about. Even if i was, how could i explain to her that her conception wasn't normal? I keep saying to her the same lines.... "when a man and a woman love eachother...." She does not need the gory details all she needs to know is she was a shock but very much wanted from the day i found out i was carrying her.
With me being so young, it wasn't that long ago that i was dealing with the things she is. I was miserable outside of school, normal in school and a recluse at home but i still had the normal pressures of teenage life around me. From the way she talks about things, nothing has changed. Girls are still bitchy and friends opinions still mean more than the parents. The mobile phone is still the only way to contact the outside world and boys are still either a silly immature being or the best friend you will ever have. Teachers are still dishing out masses of homework and at this age they are finally realising what parents meant when they said these are the best years of your life.
So why am i struggling? Because i know what she has to come or maybe its just i know what i have to come. I havent even hit the teenage years with her yet, she turns 13 next year but i remember how i was at 13. I remember how much my attitude stank and the look on my mums face when i told her i hated her! At the time i didnt see it properly or care about it, but having children of my own i realise how much that must have hurt. Im not a first time mum but i am a first time mum of a teen, I know she is not me and knowing kirsty she will have a fantastic time discovering who she is and making the foundations for her future but i know what being a teen means. In short, i am struggling because i am not ready. I still look at her as my baby, i see the grown up young adult in front of me and am not ready to accept that she is growing up. I miss picking her up front school and listening to her excitedly tell me how her day has been. She now gets her own clothes ready, her own packed lunch in the fridge the night before and the only time we talk is when i am nagging her to put her phone down, do her homework or she is telling me about her boyfriend and her friends. She walks to school and she goes out with friends, she is close to home but i still feel like i should be watching her, i should make sure she is safe. Maybe it is just surreal, i have never felt my age so knowing i have a 12 year old just seems odd. I guess i am still living in the past and have to learn to treasure the memories of her as a young child and watch from a distance while she makes new ones as a young adult.