So this morning I had a parenting boomerang thrown at me. My 15 year old daughter did something I thought I had covered, that I had rammed into her from the point she initially joined the world of social media. It caught me off guard, and once again I was left floundering around, and panicking.
I’ll let you into a secret.
I have no idea what I am doing. Literally no idea.
I look at these four kids of mine, almost 17, 15, 10 and 4, and think to myself ‘who the hell put me in charge of this lot, who on earth thought I could do this!?’. Inside I often feel like a child myself; surely I’m not old enough or responsible enough to have a kid that can drive as of three weeks time?
The most important lesson I think any new parent can learn, is that everyone feels like this. We all pretty much make it up as we go along, hoping for the best. Making snap decisions, and decisions we spend nights lying awake pondering. We read advice on the Internet, talk to friends and family, then think some more, but ultimately the decisions lie with us alone.
There are no absolutes.
Even the few scenarios that instinctively feel like an absolute, can have a grey area. In my home and family, violence of any kind is forbidden.
An easy parenting choice, right?
What about if some kids jump you after school, or a guy tries to touch you when you’ve said no, clearly and repeatedly? Is it still the right advice?
My daughter last summer had a young lad feel that it was acceptable to grab her and pull her around, because she was wearing a bikini and shorts at the beach. She repeatedly asked him to stop, as did her friends. He didn’t. She eventually shoved him as hard as she could, squirted sun cream in his face, ran away hysterical and called me.
We talked through the incident and agreed that when left with no other option, getting physical to protect yourself was absolutely acceptable. That said we also followed through the diplomacy route, involved the police and school, to ensure that a clear message was sent to this kid that his behaviour was completely abhorrent, despite what he believed.
Some parents might argue I went too far, but that is irrelevant to me.
I didn’t want my daughter afraid of men. I wanted her to be shown respect, and know that there is no shame at all, in calling a guy out when he crosses a clear boundary she has set. She is worth more than that, I needed her to believe it.
That lad learnt a very important lesson in the days that followed. I have to give him credit; he’s a different kid now, and is probably one of the most respectful towards the girls in his year. #smugparentingwin
The thing I find hardest is the curve balls. I know what my basic parenting principles are. Be kind, honest, and compassionate. Polite and respectful. Work hard and play hard. But these things that the little buggers do that fall between those principles…… Agggghhh.
I’m guilty of over reacting sometimes.
I’ve sent conflicting messages as to what I expect. (Again with the making it up as I go along)
‘Come straight home’ and ‘never leave a friend to walk home alone in the dark’, has been a fun one. I ended up screaming at my daughter in the street one night, days after meeting my new man. (Somehow it ended up not at all awkward, and with them bonding, her listening and me realising, once again, what a catch he was with his calm, jolly manner!?) She wasn’t where she said she was, her phone died so there was no communication. Turned out her and a friend had walked the other friend home together , then walked back, so no one was left alone. Of course after an hour driving the streets in the dark, I was hysterical, having a hundred scenarios with terrible endings running through my mind.
We both learnt from this experience.
Communication is key.
Now if anyone is stuck they all come here, and I’ll drive them wherever they need to be.
They will continue to push the boundaries, and I will continue to make mistakes, and good calls. I’ll continue to make it up as a I go along, hoping for the best. I’ll keep reflecting on our journey so far and make good and bad decisions in the future, scared and scarred by my previous experiences, and the fact that it’s so very, very hard to let them go.
They will always be my babies, no matter how tall they tower over me.
I’ll always be their mama, imperfectly perfect for them. I’m real, not a robot. I’ll just keep doing my best, and hope it’s enough to give them both roots and wings.
For all those parents out there that feel like they are floundering around, and have no clue what they are doing?
Welcome to the club.
Anyone that tells you they have it totally Sussed, is quite frankly lying.
We are the mighty majority of misfit mothers who make it up as we go along.
And it will be ok.
Oh and by the way darling daughter, you are banned from your phone and social media until further notice. #makingitupasigoalong #boom