Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Life lessons July 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 6:50 pm
Tags: , , ,


In the last few weeks several tragedies have exposed the men-children to the loss of life.  In two separate events, both boys had friends that were plunged into the depths of grief, under terrible and unexpected circumstances.  You never want your children to experience grief before they need to, but sadly it’s part of the circle of life and inevitable at some stage.

Apart from sharing in the boys shock and sadness as a result of both tragic deaths, we also ensured that they had any support they needed and knew how to reach out to their friends.  Both were in contact with their friends by text and phone (their preferred mode of communication), to offer their support.  One of the boys also spent time with his friend – leaving school for the day with my permission.  I agreed immediately, as peer support is so important under these circumstances.

In the days since, we have talked about the events that unfolded and ensured that if there are lessons to learn that the boys indeed do – using these horrid events to drive home messages about depression (it’s important to seek help from people), and drink-driving (just don’t do it).

What they have now been exposed to directly is the impact such events have on children, parents, spouses, families and friends, the terrible deaths having a far-reaching effect across so many people.  I hope they have learned to be even more thankful for what they have, and to think about the decisions they make in life every day.  I know it has caused them to reflect on the fragility of life and to understand it can happen to someone you know.

As we get older, is it just me that feels grief more intensely?  Is it as adults that we understand the terrible loss and sadness more deeply, or is it through our own experience that it all comes flooding back?   Upon learning about the death of this young man in a car accident, I was instantly transported back 28 years ago to the life changing events of my own sister’s death in a car accident.  I knew at once the grief my son’s friends would feel at the loss of their sibling, and the support they would draw from their closest friends.   And as a parent, I understood even more inherently how my own parents must have felt at the loss of their child, and the feelings of disbelief, intense and heart-breaking grief, and the completely surreal nature as the world around you continued on, even as your own life seemed to stop temporarily.

So what did I tell my children?  That I had been down the path of their friends before, losing both a sibling and a parent.  That I knew how they would be feeling, and that they should just be there for their friends.  Be available to talk, or to text, or to do nothing but be a friend.

I hope my children don’t experience too many of these life lessons in their early years – there is plenty of time as we get older, and inevitably mourn the loss of our parents and friends.  But along the way, we deal with what life throws at us, and ensure our kids have the support and guidance they need to overcome life’s hurdles and challenges, and to be empathetic, supportive, caring human beings.


In memory of my Mum May 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

rosesAs Mother’s Day approaches for another year, I had cause to reflect on my own mother, and the massive gap that she left in my life (and that of my sisters and father) when she died more than 20 years ago.

Like all mothers, she was of course an amazing woman.  And like all children, I developed a whole new appreciation of both of my parents as I became an adult and eventually a parent myself.   My mother, like many of her generation, had countless home-making skills, including knitting, sewing, crocheting, painting/drawing, ceramics, cooking, music (piano and guitar), in addition to excellent parenting skills of course, and juggling the demands of four young daughters, and managing the household on a tight budget.

There wasn’t much she couldn’t do, and do well.  I fondly recall my stunning strapless taffeta debutante gown made so expertly by my own Mum – it was more professionally finished than one you could buy in any boutique.

As if bringing up kids wasn’t enough, whilst Dad worked six days a week, she went back to university to do “finishing” (Year 12) when we were still at school, then went on to university as a mature age student.  I remember very clearly her enjoyment of certain subjects, especially the “feminist” ones like Women’s Studies!   She went on to have a successful teaching career and eventually worked in a not-for-profit organisation before becoming ill.

Over the years, I haven’t spent a lot of time regretting not having my mother around.  More importantly, I have spent my energy living my life to the full and making sure that I follow in her footsteps, by making the most of every opportunity in life, and hoping she would be proud of the person I am (although, I think she was probably better on the parenting teenagers bit).

If I have regrets it is for all the things she has missed out on – the birth of my twin boys, and daughter, the marriages of my two sisters, and the birth of my niece.  And regret for the pain that she endured, like the tragic death of an 18-year-old daughter, and the treatment for breast cancer and then secondary cancer some years later.   And regret for her death at just 50 years old, so missing half of her lifetime, and with it the opportunity to enjoy retirement, travelling and the twilight years with my Father.  But the world continues, and we all keep living, and good things continue to happen.

I know she would love her grandchildren, and be immensely proud of her daughters and their partners.  I know she would still be grey (thanks for not sharing that gene Mum), and still have wonderful laugh lines (yes, I definitely got that one).  I know she would still be active and busy cramming life into every day, and spending time entertaining family and friends.  I wish she was still here – but in a way she is – in me!

So Happy Mothers Day Mum.  I will miss you and love you forever. xo

Here’s another take on Mothers Day a few years back – Man-Child style!!   Mother’s Day Musings


No room for Mums….. October 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

bridgeBeing a mother of teenage men-children is an interesting journey. The boys that needed you so much for so many years as their primary carer, no longer look to you first for help and advice with everything. On the contrary, they look to and respect the opinions of their friends and peers first, older boys second, sporting coaches, teachers or other authority figures next, and parents coming in a long way last.

Trust me, 16 year old boys know everything and don’t need parents at all!  Except when they need a lift somewhere, or to know how to open a bank account, get a tax file number, put on a washing machine, fill the dishwasher or hang out some clothes.  And if they want something, they don’t necessarily ask their mother first anymore (especially if they think their father will lend a more sympathetic ear). Even more so if it’s a blokey activity, which I can appreciate and actually think is healthy for boys. You know, that male bonding stuff.

It’s certainly a challenge for one’s ego parenting teenagers, even more so as Mother of a Man-Child. In my mid 40’s, it’s fair to say I am loving life. Great mates, great job, great family, at my healthiest in years, good work/life balance, good network of friends and colleagues. However such is the power of teenagers that in a split second your ego can be inflated by a few simple words (“Mum, you look great” – if only they could say it without surprise in their voices), then instantly deflated with a look from them that needs no words, rendering said mother as “useless”.  If you are having a moment of weakness, these incidents can cut you to the core, leaving you feeling bereft, and almost in mourning for the children you once had, and the adoration they once bestowed upon you.

And God forbid you should attempt to talk to their friends.  Most of them seem very nice to me and happy to chat upon arrival in our home. Yet one of my men-children in particular (and to be fair not his brother) practically drags his friends out of the room, so quick is he to escape our presence.  I can only assume it’s embarrassment on his part – perhaps we are not up to his standards?  They say the grass is always greener on the other side – does the same extend to parents?  Are everyone else’s parents somehow cooler than your own?  No doubt.

Thankfully I still have Sister of a Man-child, who still wants and needs her mother. Me and my ego soak that up every day, knowing too well it is a temporary state.  Fortunately, as Celia Lashlie’s book “He’ll be OK” showed, I also have confidence the men-children will return to me in due course, and be the nice young men we are bringing them up to be, who love and appreciate their Mum (and of course their Dad and sister). 🙂

I have written about the journey across the adolescent bridge before:  It’s a Man’s world