Long Days Short Years- A Message

To all of the Mums with your new babies who are finding things challenging, I wanted to share my own story as my oldest baby now has turned 17
Nothing could ever have prepared me to be a parent, but being a parent to a teenager is something else entirely. When our children are young, yes it is so hard, frustrating and tiring, but at least they are safely with you all the time and you can entirely call the shots.
As they get older, they start to become their own person, with their own thoughts and different influences and of course more freedom too. Like you will too, I do my best to ensure that my son always feels loved, but this can be hard to do so when setting boundaries about activities, friends, homework, study, work, social life, the time to be home for-issues constantly arising, being questioned, pushed and argued about. I know right now you cannot possibly imagine theses conversations happening, as you are knee- deep in feeding, nappy changing and in the depths of sleep deprivation, but before you know it they start to get older and the needs change so much.
My son doesn’t know that by supervising his lifestyle, restricting the time that he is out, not allowing him to go to a festival, endorse under unsafe or age inappropriate activities, that is now my show of love-but the struggle can be constant and in that struggle it can be hard to be the parent that you really want to be.
Of course, he is kind and thoughtful, funny and fearless, ambitious and laid back, reckless and unafraid, curious; raising questions that I was afraid to ask or didn’t even think to-I am in awe and I cannot believe that now he is 17.
When he was born and I held him in my arms- it actually never occurred to me that he would grow up! My only focus was keeping him and me alive from one day to the next.
That moment when became a mum for the first time, it changed everything- I became a new person and he my greatest teacher – I am Jesse’s Mum- at the school gate, parent teacher meetings, match sidelines…to his friends and their parents; I am Jesse’s mum and I am proud to be so. It was a role for which there was no training or manual, we learnt on the job as you are too.
There was an amazing time when I was the most important person in his life and I regret that when this was the case I may have been too busy to enjoy that relationship-wasting time worried about things that I now know were unimportant and I would love to share that with you.
I wish I had known that he wouldn’t always need me as much as he did then -cry when we had to leave the park- run away to play when I collected him from school-want to ride the shopping centre carousel- wake at 5am-want one more story- refuse to eat anything other than chicken nuggets or jam sandwiches.
I wish I had known, then maybe I wouldn’t have been cross, irritated and annoyed. I would have stayed longer, allowed one more turn or 5 more minutes and that is my regret to own and a message I want to convey-I tell parents they are always doing their best, but in the moment, even now, it doesn’t always feel that way. I am the best version of his mum that I can be: I must remember that.
However, I wish I had realised that it was true and honored, that, time does fly -that children do get older and need you less – How is it that I didn’t realise this for him, my first baby?
In the moment it doesn’t feel possible that this will evolve and the needs would change and the ground surface would shift.
I wish I had known that and paused more often just to savour his very being, allowed him to stay up later just to be with me, hold him more.
Regrettably, I m not the most important person in his life now- or at least that is how it feels- -what I wouldn’t do to be his number 1… I want to glimpse into his inner world and steal back those opportunities to be with him when life was not so complicated and external forces were not so strong.
I struggle to be the Mum of an almost man boy-as I was barely prepared to be mum to a baby boy.
I struggle to let him follow his own path and yet I know I must and will. Typical of parents everywhere I want him to have everything that I did not, want for nothing and I don’t want him to be unhappy, yet he must experience discomfort; it is real life… I confess that I am nervous for him to experience disappointment and failure, yet know this must happen and I may only be there to accompany him -not rescue or save him- but wait in the wings until he needs me – I struggle to hide my horror at the stories he tells, but know that I must, so that he always does tell me most of what goes on…
I struggle when I have to say no to his enthusiastic plans or insist on that curfew. I struggle when he wants to see his girlfriend or friends rather spend time with me. I wait up for him to get home, to know that he is safe -in such a small passage of time he is getting older and now he is 17.
As his mum I wish for him to experience love, peace and happiness in himself. I wish for the enjoyment in both big and small things. I wish for family time that is enjoyable and I wish for his continued growth as a wonderful human-being. I wish that he will stay safe. I wish for him to make careful decisions. I wish to always be there for him emotionally and that he always feel loved, seen and heard.
For parents everywhere, I wish for you to know what I did not realise, the days are long but the time is short. The struggles will always be part of your parenting career, but they change with time. I am assured by those who have gone before me, that even though it feels remote now, that our love is everlasting and I will be in the deepest part of his heart and he in mine, forever-but in the meantime, hold your babies, rock them, love and cherish them. Lean into the challenges that comes with new parenting, knowing that at least you know where they are… and that is with you; safe and loved.

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