• Samantha Lehmann

All I need to do is love her

I have read hundreds of parenting advice blogs and articles from experts and other mums. It’s always been very important to me to try and get it right and be a good parent and raise healthy, happy kids. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don't.

I had my first child nearly 14 years ago, what a bloody shock that was, I was 28 and had been running my first fashion boutique for nearly 2 years and then comes along our new baby girl, we named her Chloe and I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her. I wasn’t prepared for the hard work ahead, I don’t think any of us are first time around.

Waking up to feed her every 2-3 hours was torturous and exhausting, there was no Foxtel or Netflix back then so it was infomercials at 2am to try and stay awake. she loved to be breast fed which was easy for me but that also meant that I had to express constantly to make sure she had a supply of food if I was away from her.

I went back to work after 2 weeks, I worked in the store 3 days per week and I took her with me each day and continued the daily routine of feeding, play and sleep whilst serving customers in between. I look back now and think how crazy I was,

what was I trying to prove? I certainly wasn’t able to truly enjoy being a mum whilst running a business and looking after our home, I have a very supportive husband but I have to admit the first 3 months of her life were very hectic with neither of us really knew what we were doing.

My anxiety crept in around these early days, I had an overwhelming need to protect her, I really didn’t want to be away from her at all and I even felt a little anxious when someone was holding her.

As time went on though my confidence grew and I felt quite comfortable being a mum. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and Andrew and I used to stare at her for ages and be so proud that we made her.

As the years went on and as she would meet each milestone, teething, toilet training, kindergarten, first day of school, the primary school years and then all of a sudden there she is starting secondary school. Life was pretty easy raising her in the early years she has a kind heart, makes friends easily and was always trying her best at school, she was a pretty happy and motivated kid and she was always very enthusiastic to go to school to be with her friends and quite happy to spend time with us as a family. 

Then Things changed and she became a teenager, hormones, peer pressure and social media has influenced her in a lot of ways. Her friends have become her world and watching her navigate her way through having the right friends and the wrong friends has been difficult to watch, I have to admit that this so far has been the toughest time being a mum. Chloe is not a woman yet but she is also no longer a little girl.

 The Social Media is a concern for me, the constant contact with others and knowing what everyone is doing sharing their daily habits, what they are eating, wearing and who they are hanging out with. its just constant sharing and nothing seems private or unseen.

Then there is the online bullying or just the mean things that is being said to each other or about others, I’ve seen some very nasty stuff online and knowing that my children are being exposed to this stuff is tough. I am encouraging her to block the negative things and people and I can only hope she takes notice and realizes it’s not healthy or helpful.

 Having constant access to social media, videos, YouTube and movies is very influential on our kids. it’s certainly different to how we were influenced at that age, it was just Dolly, Cosmo and the 5 channels on TV. Her time spent looking at all this stuff is mostly wasteful but I’m also very aware that all teenagers are doing it. The fear of missing out (FOMO)  is a massive problem and I can only hope that she manages it better as she grows older.

We have raised her to have manners, strong morals and values, respect for others and herself. But somehow when she became a teenager some other things seem to be more important to her and my guidance has less impact,at least it feels that way. 

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m a mum of a teenager but I am and this is when I feel I need to get it right now more than when she was a little girl. Our family rules and values are vital to Andrew and I, it’s not easy sticking to them all the time and we sometimes need to do a lot of negotiating so there is peace in the house. I always read that consistency is the key but that can certainly be a challenge when scenarios we have never dealt with come up, what is the right consequences for poor behavior’s? Picking the battles worth dealing with can becomes a daily task.

We disagree and argue over social media and technology use, swearing, chores and her poor food choices.  We openly talk about love/relationships, boys, parties and friendships. I love that she feels she can talk to me about most things.

Being a mum to a teenager has forced me to reflect on my time as a teenager, to really try to understand what she is feeling and going through – I was obsessed with clearing up my pimples that covered my fore head and chin, I wanted to put on weight because I was told I was too thin, I was a confident girl and that was threatening to some, I got into trouble for making stupid choices. I liked boys a lot but I had strong values so only kissing was my thing….and that was a lot of fun. I don’t have any regrets but thank god there was no Iphones or social media to record any of my slip ups.

 I had some beautiful friends but I also had the wrong friends, the ones that would judge me, put me down or were jealous. I made mistakes……lots of mistakes, hell I still make mistakes, But I can honestly say that I learn from them, I understand that mistakes are a normal part of life and its ok to make them, it leads you to success and important lessons. I make sure I tell my daughters that a lot so they don’t carry shame or guilt when they make errors.

There is a fine line with setting boundaries and limitations on a teenager, they are craving freedom and independence in world where crime and violence is high, we fear for their safety out on the streets and online but at the same time I remember wanting the same things at her age. Letting go is hard for me, I still want to protect her from all the negative experiences I endured, but I also need to remember this is her life and she needs to make her own mistakes to learn just like I did.

 I will always be there to support her and offer advice if she asks I do tend to offer my advice without her asking, she calls them speeches, but I’m working on that and trying to hold back and let her discover these significant lessons herself. You can’t put a wise head on young shoulders so I can only hope that she listens and thinks about what I tell her before acting and making certain choices, at least some of the time and when its most pertinent.

My mum was a beautiful mother, I always felt loved and supported by her but I feel she was less in tune with what was going on for me as a teenager. I was the youngest of three so I think they went a little easy on me. She also offered a lot of advice without me asking which used to annoy the hell out of me so I guess it’s something I have picked up from her, it comes from a good place but it’s not always helpful when you have a head strong and determined teenager.

 I feel hurt and disappointed in Chloe when she disrespects me, her sister and her dad, I know she doesn’t mean most of the things she says, she’s under pressure as a teenager and I wish she didn’t worry about what others think. I’ve always encouraged her to be her own person and not to follow the crowd, it falls on deaf ears because she is at an age where all they want to do is fit in and be accepted. She has so much to offer this world and I hope that when she passes this phase she will believe that and thrive with whatever she wants to do in life.

When I gave birth to Chloe , Justine this delightful and caring mid wife placed her in my arms and she said this to me

“all you have to do is love her” I have never forgotten that….. that’s the easy part and of course I always will even though there have been moments when I feel like throttling her...I mean hugging her

I can’t offer any parental advice since I am no expert but I will say this – All you have to do is love them and then we can only hope that they turn out to be happy, healthy and balanced adults living the best life they can be X

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