My Mother Was Right | Raising Teenagers

My Mother Was Right | Raising Teenagers

Yes, you read that correctly. I am holding up my weary hands, waving that white flag and admitting that my Mother right – about everything!

It all started when I hit puberty. If you’re familiar with the once-popular British TV characters ‘Kevin and Perry’, then that may give you a slight glimmer into my behaviour once the clock struck midnight on my thirteenth birthday.

I went from being a fairly easy child to a textbook rebellious teenager. It started off slowly. Dying my hair pink, wearing far too much black kohl eyeliner and purple eye shadow to school (in my defence, it was the mid-nineties) and trying to push the boundaries.

I’m deeply ashamed to admit these things now but by the time I was 15 years old, I was a living nightmare. I smoked, I skipped school and I was dating an older boy. I drove around in cars with said boy and his friends. One fateful night, this resulted in being us involved in a serious collision and me coming home the next morning with a broken ankle after spending the night in A&E.

I’d hang around the park and drink cider with my friends until we could barely stand. I flitted from one childish relationship to the next with no regard for anything else. Things gradually got darker and involved a suicide attempt (in hindsight, this was a classic cry for help rather than a genuine desire to end my life) and not coming home for days on end, amongst other dire events.

At the time, I was simply doing what my friends did, having fun and discovering my own identity. In my juvenile little mind, adults quickly became the enemy. The idea of actually taking responsibility for my own actions and the impact of my reckless behaviour on my loved ones didn’t remotely register with me.

I viewed my Mother as just another obstacle, standing in the way of my precious freedom; I had no respect, understanding or compassion for the fact that she had limited resources and emotions. My behaviour must have drained everything she had, all whilst she tried to hold down a job, study and raise two other children.

My Mother tried everything to help, from sending me to therapy and rewarding progress to family intervention and various forms of punishment. I realise now that she was doing the best she possibly could with a volatile, vulnerable and disobedient teenager who was on a dangerous path to self-destruction. In hindsight, even just writing these events down on ‘paper’ fills me with remorse and guilt. I must have put my Mother through absolute hell.

The turning point (in the strangest way) was finding myself unexpectedly pregnant at just 16 years old. This massive life change was the beginning of adulthood for me. I stopped drinking, rarely went out and focused all of my energy into being a Mother, whilst working hard to support my new family.

Twenty years later, I now find myself standing in the very same shoes that my own Mother did, wondering what the hell happened. As a Mother to two teenage daughters, I finally understand.

The intense emotions that this particular period of parenting brings are a heavy load to carry some days; the sleepless nights, the constant worry, the gut-wrenching panic when the phone rings and I hear the words: ‘Is that Mrs Valentine?’,  resulting in a duty to down tools and pick up the broken pieces of the latest drama.

When my daughters are upset and hurting, I swear that my soul feels it too. Seeing them cry devastates me and the dull feeling of helplessness is unbearable. As toddlers, I could ‘fix’ most things with a plaster and kiss. As teenagers, it’s not so easy – I don’t know how to repair a broken heart or serious bouts of depression and anxiety.

My girls are simply behaving as most teenagers do, yet being on the other side of the fence is utterly terrifying. I’m still struggling to fully adjust to this new way of life. Some days, we’re closer than ever, enjoying girly trips to the cinema and spending quality time together. The next day, it’s all flipped again. The barriers are back up and my questions get answered with grunts and an air of disdain.

It’s not all bad, of course. The unconditional love and happier moments completely outweigh the dark days. I’m so very proud of the things that they’ve already achieved, throughout the worst of circumstances.

One day, my girls will both be adults and I will have raised them to be brave, strong and ambitious women. Every single parenting decision I have ever made has been solely for them; for their welfare, protection and future. This does not make a hero, I’m simply doing my job as a parent. It’s just a lot more overwhelming that I ever imagined it could be.

Again, my Mother was right.

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  1. 23rd February 2017 / 9:39 pm

    Love this! You’re so right, it’s so hard … We’ve been there and done a lot of it ourselves and there are all these new, complicated things to worry about. Scary times. Good luck with navigating your way through it.

    • 24th February 2017 / 9:12 pm

      It’s so scary being on the other side of things. As a teen myself, I was SO careless and had no idea of the implications caused by my silly actions. I’m sure we’ll get through the other side but growing it today must be even harder than it was back then x
      Lisa | That British Betty Blog recently posted…Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical Comes To ManchesterMy Profile

  2. 23rd February 2017 / 2:08 pm

    Oh Lisa, it’s so great to find your blog! I’m a mum to three teenagers – two daughters aged 17 and 15 and a son of 13! I nodded my way through this entire post – the heart-stopping worry is like nothing else is it? The living and breathing their every emotion. It is so damn exhausting and worrying just all the time. As Mother of Teenagers once mentioned in her blog – it is one thing having been a teenager but a whole different story parenting a teenager! #CoolMumClub

    • 23rd February 2017 / 6:39 pm

      Thank you lovely! Gosh, it’s so much more heart wrenching that I’d ever imagined it could be. We have good and bad days of course, but crikey, it can be terrifying some days x
      Lisa | That British Betty Blog recently posted…The Sunshine Blogger QuizMy Profile

  3. Saskia
    17th February 2017 / 10:31 pm

    I remember when you were pregnant and your mum was the first of us to become a grandparent. How she worried for you and how proud she was at how you prioritised parenting.

    Teenagers are hard. I remember more than once just being lost for how to parent my boys. I remember your mum struggling as well. It is really important to share this because parenting teens can feel isolating and overwhelming.

    But it is a passing phase (albeit a long one) and at the other side is an amazingly strong and deep connection with your adult children.

    I’m proud of my adults and your mum is rightly proud of you.

    This is a beautifully written piece, I hope it reaches people who need it xxx

    • 18th February 2017 / 6:48 pm

      Thank you so much.

      Raising teenagers is notoriously difficult but I guess I had no real idea how complex it all is until recently.

      My Mum deserves a medal for simply getting us all through the other side! I agree, it’s a long road but I need to remember that it’s not forever and one day, my girls will be adults themselves.

      I don’t have many friends with teenage children so it’s nice to hear other peoples perspectives sometimes xx
      Lisa | That British Betty Blog recently posted…My Mother Was Right | Raising TeenagersMy Profile

    • 16th February 2017 / 1:39 pm

      Thanks Sharon, it really means a lot. I guess I’m just trying to adjust to this strange time and accepting that my girls are no longer ‘children’ is a tough one. They’ll get there eventually but it’s only recently that I can appreciate how my own Mother must have felt twenty years ago! Lisa x
      Lisa | That British Betty Blog recently posted…My Mother Was Right | Raising TeenagersMy Profile

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