parent opinion

'I always thought I’d be a cool relatable mum to my teens. I'm not.'

There was something more than having babies that drew me to want to be a mother. 

For some reason, I felt more of a pull towards being a mum to teenagers down the line. 

Just like so many parents when they’re in the throes of their kids being so demanding and reliant on them, I would will time away and dream of the day that my children would finally be able to exert some independence, and so far, that’s been the most wonderful aspect of having tweens and teenagers.

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I really had no idea how difficult mothering babies and young children would be. 

It wasn’t that I was daft about motherhood. I knew from observing other parents in my life that it’d be a rude shock when I had my own three children. Especially as each one of my daughters is very different.

Early on, I learned that there was no 'one method fits all' style of parenting that would fit my household. 

It’s basically been a 'find whatever works for each kid' method of parenting that both my husband and I have adopted, because believe me, another important thing I’ve come to understand about parenting is to block your eyes and ears to all the opinions and judgements out there, and listen to your own instincts.

The way I see it is that as long as your kids are loved, healthy and thriving each day, that means you’re doing your job and your best and nothing else matters. 

Each day is different. There are days with challenges, yet there are a lot of great surprises too.

The hardest thing about parenting I’ve found is that every stage has its difficulties, and there’s no avoiding them.

Suddenly, your babies are no longer latching onto your legs and gazing up at you lovingly. 

Instead, they are constantly eye rolling or snarling at you at eye level because you wouldn’t let them do whatever it is they wanted to do, or didn’t buy them that thing they desperately wanted that everyone else has got. That part is a little more challenging than even I expected, especially when I so couldn’t wait until my girls transitioned into teens.

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All of a sudden, your cute little clones are your size. They have your strength and even more smarts in some ways, especially when it comes to technology. 

In my case, my eldest daughter is actually physically fitter and stronger than me now, and I find myself relying on her and her sister to navigate my way through using my phone and other tech gadgets. 

This in itself is both confronting and daunting - having to discipline your kids when they physically look like your equal, and they’re the ones now teaching you things as well.

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In my own mind, my teenage years weren't so long ago (wishful thinking perhaps), so I thought I would be the 'cool relatable mum'. 

In some ways I feel that I am, yet in other ways, it’s pretty clear that I’m not.

I’m already finding myself cringing and telling my teen to turn off some of the hideous sounds she listens to and calls music, and scolding her to get off her phone, or PS4, or computer at all hours of the night because 'this old lady needs her sleep'. 

I've also found myself having to repeatedly ask 'What?' when she speaks in sentences (or texts) filled with abbreviations like OG, IDK and IKR and uses words like 'clout', which apparently means 'having fame and popularity'. 

Then I’m met with an eye roll and a 'How do you not know what OG means?' or 'You’re so embarrassing mum'.

So, if there’s anyone in your own family that’s going to make you feel about 100 years old, totally embarrassing and completely 'uncool', it’s most likely going to be your teenager. 

But that’s okay, I’m kind of over the need to be a 'cool relatable mum' to my kids, anyway. I’m too exhausted from parenting for the last almost 15 years to try being anything but just 'mum'.

Right now, I’m more interested in making sure I’m available for my teens when they need me, who now rely on me more just to be there for them at the end of each day. 

And with my support, love and presence, I hope that when they do leave home in a short, few years, that they leave as pretty cool young adults and decent human beings.

Lidija Zmisa is a work-from-home mum of three girls, wife and writer. You can follow her on Instagram @lidijazmisa.

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