I remember before ever having children how sure I was what type of parent I was going to be. It was not overly disimilar to ‘little house on the prairie’, with a modern twist of course. Then I became a parent and my dreams fell apart. My babies cried much more than I could have ever imagined. Breast feeding was not as ‘natural’ as I believed it would be, even though I had imagined it might be difficult. Then there were the many combined years of sleep deprivation. By the time my children begin school I did not recognise myself, compared to the parent I dreamed I might be.
Yet for all I struggled in those early days of parenting I knew all of what was happening was normal. Many many other mothers were on hand with advice. They were eager to listen and to acknowledge how very hard parenting young children can be. They smiled knowing smiles as we asked our questions, and we were constantly assured that this time would pass. How eagerly we looked forward to that day.
But it was all a lie.
They never told us there was more. That small children mean small problems. That parenting teenagers is a whole new skill and that our parenting never ends even when our children reach twenty one.
As the years have gone by and I have struggled with various issues around parenting teenagers I have always wondered why the silence? Where are all the helpful mothers gone? Where is the advice, the camaraderie, the sharing of experiences?
No one wants to admit their fears to others. Only close friends are privy to what is really going on and even then not all of us share honestly. Who wants to share that their underage child came in drunk, that they worry about their children’s friends,or lack of friends, that their child’s behaviour is out of control, that their child has overwhelming anxiety, or has anger management issues, is failing at school, or working too hard, self harming, not eating or over eating?
These are normal everyday issues which effect every parent of older children at some time. Yet no one admits it. Because it is kept quiet parents struggle alone. There is no sharing of advice, and life can be exhausting.
Until that happens I wanted to let my voice be heard. Parenting is a job for life. Our children are growing up, spreading their wings and making their own decisions. Sadly at times they get things very wrong. All we can do is hang in there and do our best. It is okay to feel mad, to feel weary, to feel anger, and despair.
Remember you are not alone. It is easy to see parenting as that cute photo of a mother with her new born baby, no one wants to look at a photo of a mother with an angry drinking/smoking teenager. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
So today I just wanted to give a shout out to the many many parents who are silently parenting teenagers and older children of all ages. Those of you who are struggling with big children with big problems. I wish you well. Maybe someday you will find your voices and when you do you will understand you are a good parent.
Most of all I would wish you to know you are not alone.