Monday, 24 June 2013

Virago

I do most of my mothering on a wing and a prayer. Only come evening do I forage the fridge in hopes of stray proteins for supper. Homework is a high-speed frenzy over breakfast bowls and my tartan sofa rug has had to stand in for most fancy-dress costumes required by school.

I have, however, always been braced for puberty. Patience and humour were to be my guides. I would extract the Usborne book with the frightening diagrams that I'd hidden behind my archive of Gardener's World and talk my daughter through feminine biology. I would shop companionably with her for her first bra and I would defuse adolescent tantrums with a kiss.

Now, though, our once quiet vicarage is bedevilled by puberty and I have lost control. The Vicar watches papal masses at top volume on Youtube to drown out the shouting beyond his study door. Fights are needlessly picked, recriminations slung up and down the stairs and the sulks can cloud an entire afternoon. Yes, my behaviour has deteriorated dismayingly since my ten-year-old entered adolescence!

I can turn a single insubordination into a bloodbath and brood mutinously over a pubescent slight. I expel my daughter ruthlessly from my room when she grates on me and emit dark threats when she won't bend to my will.

'I think Mum's tired!' whisper the children, scurrying to safety as I shriek at their disordered bedrooms. My daughter looks at me pityingly. 'We need to be patient,' she tells her brother. 'This happens to mums when they get old.'


18 comments:

  1. Having a teenager (and you say your 10 year old counts already) teaches you more about yourself than anything. In my experience.

    Like you, I was going to be patient and fore-bearing, give them just the right mix of support and responsibility. Now I just do the laundry and hope for the best. And sometimes I don't even do the laundry.

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    1. I don't like what it's teaching me! And I don't do much laundry...

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  2. I have raised a house full of teens and it seems to become more and more difficult. Todays teens are growing up in a technological world which is completely new to us. If we were lucky, we may have gotten in on the first part of this era in college. I like the humor in your article. Your kid is right, we ARE tired!

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    1. Ah, the technology is terrifying. I guess we're the first generation of parents to have to raise children amid such baffling cyber perils.

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  3. Yes, I remember the times when my daughter was a teen and all the angst, the slights, the moods, the out of control feelings - all mine!! Now my daughter mothers me and sometimes gets exasperated with me as I practice becoming a dotty old lady. I tell her it's only karma :-)

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    1. I've been practising to be a dotty old lady for two decades, but my daughter has yet to try mothering me.

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  4. Can't imagine you sulking! She'll get payback when she has her own if you can grit your teeth for that long! ;) xx

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    1. Sulking is one of my few sound accomplishments. I was on my best behaviour when I met you.

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  5. Oh dear. I am sure I see my future in this post and the comments!
    My girls are seven and a half and one of them is already too teen-like for comfort.

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  6. Puberty and adolescence in our house is going to coincide with menopause. Please try to remember me as I am now, that's all I ask.

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    1. I will indeed. I shan't let the fact we've never met get in the way of my memories!

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  7. ,,Did you sleep well?", asked my 11yo old son and my 10yo daughter anxiously this morning after they had given me the 'mummy-is-tired-verdict' last night when I momentarily turned into this horrid shouty woman. The days when I honestly thought that I was going to be one of those calm, grown up and cheerful kind of mums are long gone....

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  8. On My goodness.... you are getting old???? How hard did you have to grit your teeth?! X.

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    1. I sympathised with them. I'm horrid when I'm tired!

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