Sue Lansdown, our guest blogger, shares her inner fears and hopes as she finds her way as a parent of a tween and a teen. She is one of the creators of an age-appropriate, organic range of skincare and cosmetics named (very cutely)peachface.
Being a mum to Toby, 16, and my daughter Talullah, 9, keeps positively reminding me that I am surviving as a mum and that this is very wild and unchartered territory. I am awake and learning on the job.
My kids are constantly opening me to the challenges that I faced as a budding teen, and how confused my parents must have been during those years. I have deep compassion for teenagers and their parents. I feel a great sense of relief that I have beautiful relationships with both of my kids. Being realistic means that could all change any moment! So far so good, particularly when it comes to Toby, we do communicate, he still hugs me, he tells me ‘mum I love you’. This feels like a miracle and the truth of it is that I do know he has a very private world that is a no access area. And that does include telling me to ‘fuck off’ under his breath at times.
I do see beautiful, creative, confident kids with a mix of treacherous challenges and amazing opportunities ahead. The pressures for teenagers are all around, and are hyper-real. With so much attention on how they look, what they own, who their friends are, experimenting with intimacy and drugs, its mind boggling. Life as a teen is intensity plus. Life as a parent to a teen is just as intense and twice as scary having been teenagers ourselves!
The confusion I felt as a teenager was overwhelming, really how did I do puberty? Was I good at guessing, secretly studying my mum, depending on undependable friends, the Dolly sealed section? Looking back now I realize I was frightened and felt unable to share my fears with my friends or my family, though I don’t think any of those fears were noticed and I appeared to be a very normal and contained kid.
Struggling my whole life to understand those confusing years, and now facing me head on are my own children’s teenage years, this is where my learning comes full circle. Though could it be that these years are meant for intensity? Is it that our longing for self-actualization comes from the constant need for growth, experimentation and wanting to love?
It is a glorious confusion, I get to step out and watch and stand in and adore them. Though I don’t know quite how they will both manage these years, the ones I had found so freaky. I get to be available and to be told to ‘stay out of it’! These days are tough and tender days, delicately life transforming and experimental. My awakening alongside my kids is a painful privilege.
(image by teen photographer Nirrimi Hakanson)