The One Thing No One Tells You About Parenting

I recently read an article written by Joanne Fedler, a mother of teenagers. It actually brought tears to my eyes.The opening sentence left me a bit confused: “Now that my two children are teenagers, the years of claustrophobic motherhood that left me feeling exhausted have been replaced with this: me feeling a bit silly.”

My children are 8, 6 and 2, so I’m in the exhausting, claustrophobic phase that she speaks of. It seems to be lasting forever, but I know it will ease. I’m hoping it’s not replaced with me feeling silly. She goes on to say that she’s just not impressive to her children any more. I found the article really sad, you can read the full article here if you want to. I’d suggest you do read it, one day. At least you’ll be prepared.

I spoke to two of my sisters that day, both mothers to teenagers, and suggested that they have a read of this article. I thought it might make them feel better, less alone in parenting teens. Somehow I thought that the articulation of the universal experience might make their children’s grunted greetings or eye rollings a little easier to bear, knowing it was happening to other parents of teens, everywhere.

Then my son, who is six, asked me not to kiss him good bye at the school gates any more. I was a bit surprised, but had heard that this happens with little boys. He said some kids had teased him. He did say I could kiss him at home, and a hug outside the school gates was ok.

So, a compromise. Although I did think that as a mother of a six year old, it should be me setting the rules, not him. But for the sake of a quiet life, I agreed to not kiss him at the school gates any more. Although, I confess, I did (and do) feel a bit sad about it.

Then, not a week later, my daughter thought I was out of ear shot, and talking to her Dad and brother about their day off school the next day, said she wished that Daddy was staying home instead of Mummy. Ouch! Ouch again.

That really stung. I called out from the next room to her and asked her what she said. Her brother started to respond on her behalf, but she shut him down, leapt of her chair and desperately tried to re-say what she’s said. But it was too late, and she knew it. She promptly burst in to tears.

And here’s the one thing no one told me – there is a defining moment when you realise they don’t like you, as much as you like them.

All my smugness of believing that I had years ahead, of my children still wanting me around, that I’d be hangin’ with the posse for sometime yet, evaporated at that very moment. I couldn’t quite believe it! Can’t quite believe it. And yes, I feel a bit silly. They aren’t yet at the stage where they’re dissing me, or snickering at me because I can’t work my phone, like Fedler’s are, but now I’m much more prepared for when it does come. At least for now I’m taller than them, so retain some semblance of authority when trying to achieve order in the house. But I also know this is not for long.

I don’t want to sound precious but both the experiences left me feeling rather fragile. I then went through the self-congratulating phase, thinking how glad I was that I kept working and had other interests outside my children. I imagined how ‘extra’ wounded I would be if I had nothing else. But actually, the real truth of it is that none of that mattered. Career woman, stay at home Mum, extreme socialite, what ever your life is filled with, I’m sure every mother would have been as wounded as I was when I realised my kids aren’t as keen on me, as I am on them.

There’s not really any salve for that.

And that’s probably why I was so pained by Joanne Pedler’s article. It doesn’t really matter how old they are when it starts to happen. My daughter was devastated that I heard her, she felt terrible that she’s hurt my feelings, and I made sure to tell her that she did. I guess part of being a mother is teaching sensitivity to your children and this was certainly an opportunity for that. (Trying to see the positives in this one, people!)

But it’s not all bad, because a week later I found this.

So I think I’m nearly recovered.

Featured image courtesy of Pinterest.


  1. Jenny says

    This is a bitter sweet article, the joy that our children don’t need us as much and the sorrow that our children don’t need us as much. Beautifully written Colette, make hay while the sun shines xx

  2. Francesca says

    So touching and relevant. That stuff has been on my mind lately a lot. It’s a universal yet very individual journey and experience. Thank you for this honest article x

  3. Kathy says

    i thought it was just me entering into the “mum’s an idiot” phase of my sons life, I live in the hope that one day he will be shocked at how wise I really am… Perhaps about the time he turns 25 (he is currently 13).

    • says

      Remain optimistic Kathy! Just think it’s only a little more than ten years away, the younger ones will keep you going till then! By the time they’ve turned, he’ll be back on your side!

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