Thirteen

title image for thirteenth birthday post me and M aged 5

So a year has passed since your 12th birthday, Musical M. I wanted more than anything to write a ‘light’ post for your thirteenth birthday, It’s the least you deserve my gorgeous spirited friendly kind-hearted girl.

As I did for your tenth irthday and previous birthday I sit here attempting to write something in your honour.  But today has been oh so hard. They say it’s therapy to write when you are suffering, when all is not well in the heart. I’m not sure this post will be therapeutic. I’m not even sure it is a good idea me writing it. You could (and in fact do) read my blog.  But as I sit here with my brain absolutely fried and my stomach clenched, I realise I’ve barely drawn a full relaxed breath for hours, days…weeks… Writing a light carefree post may not be an option.

If I’m honest, I had already been feeling tense most of this week, wondering if you will even have a handful of friends at your party; it’s been ridiculously hard just getting a straight answer from some people and several are unable to make it. I can’t help wondering if your father’s suggestion of the usual cinema and sleepover idea was a better option after all.

post for M's thirteenth birthday M on mummy'chest

I wanted more than anything to write a carefree post for your thirteenth birthday. But then I had a shock this afternoon

during a meeting in which it was recommended pyschological tests are finally conducted to see why you struggle so much with focus at school. Of course I know, from knowing many children over the years, reading many blogs and having several friends who are teachers, that whatever comes up during the tests should not be seen as a stigma. But the co-ordinator’s initial opinions and diagnosis were like a punch in the gut.  How could I NOT have spotted it all these years?! So much about our family life and your character makes sense now. I SHOULD have spotted it. I’m your mother. It’s my duty to get my shit together and figure stuff like this out for God’s sake; there have been SO many signs! The tip of the knife blade pricked my heart.

Let’s add to the mix this evening’s bitter unexpected disappointment of a ‘close friend’ bailing on Saturday’s party. The knife makes an actual cut.  You were clearly upset and I didn’t handle my bewilderment over the fickleness of your friends well at all…as if me erupting about minimum numbers and money already paid out is your fault or in any way remotely beneficial to your already low self-esteem. Now you feel that knife, poor child.

post for M's thirteenth birthday M 6 months old

 

I wanted more than anything to write a humorous post for your thirteenth birthday. But the long conversation we had at bedtime and the further chat I had with your father has left me drained and agonised, unable to will the funny from fingers to keyboard.

What mother wants their child to go to bed crying, pouring their heart out about how miserable they are at school, how they see themselves and so on? What parent wants to sit on the edge of their child’s bed, stroking their hair, painfully aware of eyes swollen from crying and a voice thick with loneliness and suffering?

As you questioned  why so many people at school get satisfaction from treating others badly, I was both heartbroken over your total bewilderment and defeat yet strangely proud of your intelligence and maturity and determined refusal to treat people the same way.

post for M's thirteen th birthday M 5 years old summer dress cute!

You’ll never get why they do it my love because for all your faults (and you have several as you are my child after all) you just don’t have that mean switch in you. You never have (yes you are looking puzzled right now because I have accused you of meanness several times but mama now admits that sibling arguments don’t count!).

You are many things but mean just isn’t one of them. I’ve seen you include the new person as you hate for anyone to feel left out. I’ve read the school reports that conclude you are a giving  gregarious soul who lights up the room with her warmth and humour. I’ve witnessed your incredible kindness when a friend has been going through personal strife.  What a tragic shame your peers meanwhile have you totally doubting yourself making you feel – indeed calling you – weird. It doesn’t matter how many times I remind you of one of those life lessons I wrote for you and your siblings, the one that explains how a person’s mistreatment of you is usually a reflection of how they feel about themselves and not down to anything about you.

How can I expect those mantras to actually make a difference to you between the hours of 8,35am and 3.20pm each school day?

I just don’t know how to help you as I struggled at school and if truth be told all my life. This is the worst nightmare, reliving my own pain buried from decades before and feeling my child’s pain too. Double the agony.

Life was so much simpler when you were a babe in our arms. As a blogger I read post after post from newer parents who are (understandably) frustrated and broken over not being able to comfort or help their young child who can’t yet express what they need.  Give me those tough baby years back. They were actually easier than this…this stomach-churning terrifying entrance to the ‘parenting of a teen’ years. The only positive is that you at least feel you can talk to your mum; and we do loads. And yet my darling Musical M,

When you were barely able to speak, I actually could help you. Now, when you are so totally able to articulate your pain, I am so totally unable to take it away.

post for M's thirteenth birthday M as a baby lying on changing mat with daddy hugging her

 

I wanted more than anything to write a positive post for your thirteenth birthday. But tonight, during that long conversation (in which I was so relieved that you opened up to me), you dropped a bombshell.

It was the bombshell no parent ever wants to hear.

Blindsided. Powerless. UTTERLY helpless. I sit here wondering if I’ve had a part to play in this. ‘Wondering’ she says…

And just like that you turning 13 is no longer about who comes on Saturday.

Bam! You turning 13  is no longer about whether I’ve chosen your gifts well.

In a heartbeat, you turning 13 years old has gone from the excitement of you becoming a teenager…to us somehow making sure that we get you, our beloved first born child, to your 14th birthday unscathed and intact. But I have zero idea of how to make that happen.

post for M's thirteen th birthday pretty pic face on to camera at restaurant

And now the tears are coming.

I wanted more than anything to write the perfect thirteenth birthday message. It’s the least you deserve my gorgeous spirited friendly kind-hearted girl.

I am so very sorry I couldn’t.

Mama

x

M's thirteenth birthday mummy and daughter selfie

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Comments

Comments

41 Comments on Thirteen

  1. Tubbs
    June 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm (4 months ago)

    Virtually hugs you both very tightly.

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 2, 2017 at 7:27 pm (4 months ago)

      Thanks so much Nicola

      Reply
  2. Amy Treasure
    June 2, 2017 at 7:34 pm (4 months ago)

    Nailed it. It’s funny because when you’re the mum of a teen *you know* and understand how hard it is in comparison to the baby years but I barely ever admit this because it’s not what people who have babies want to hear (!) and it’s also really hard to put into words just why it’s so, so hard and draining and heartbreaking and how you often feel powerless to help. You have managed to collect all those emotions and pen them beautifully. I just wanted to say (as owner of a 17&18 year olds) that is does get better, easier, more bearable. But I hear you. I am sending you hugs of solidarity from one mama to another and strength to your daughter; please tell her from me that the things that make her feel isolated from her peers, the nuances that make her different will be the very same differences that will enhance her life and the lives of others the more she grows. That these differences make her the future and that her kindness will take her further than she could ever imagine. Much love xxx

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 2, 2017 at 9:22 pm (4 months ago)

      What an incredible comment Amy.Thank you so much. I will tell her this.

      Reply
  3. liz Deacle
    June 3, 2017 at 1:30 am (4 months ago)

    Oh Prabs. This caught my eye because my daughter too turns 13 on Saturday. Listen sweetheart… she will be absolutly fine, I promise. My boy went to school at 13 after homeschooling for 3 years and he lasted a term. Not for any other reason other than the moment he was expected to fit into that bloody square box that people call society, he felt trapped, different, unable to be himself( and he’s pretty quirky). People called him names, ignored him at break times, told him he was ‘weird’. Utter bullshit. He came home to study and to be his own person. He graduates next year. He has stacks of friends and is now regarded as pretty cool for his individuality.
    People are threatened by individuals that stand out from the crowd. If your girl is anything like you, and let’s hope she is, then she’s going to be a unique, strong, independent and talented young woman. She sounds to me as though she’s already aware of her strengths but at 13… god, all you want is to liked. Give her a couple of years Prabs and she’ll be laughing in the faces of those that turned their backs. If home education isn’t an option ( and don’t get me wrong, it’s no walk in the park) then continue doing what you’re doing,which is being a fantastic, supportive role model for your beautiful girl. Sending all my love for Saturday xx liz

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 3, 2017 at 1:38 am (4 months ago)

      Thank you so much. I think the hardest part for me is knowing beyond all doubt (not mere self flagellating guilt that we automatically do as parents) that I’m partly to blame for her self esteem as I’ve been too strict and control freakish over the years and I subconsciously always knew it would lead to this but couldn’t stop myself. Having to face that now. Obviously I’m not to blame for the mean girls/in crowd thing but she would have handled it differently perhaps.

      Reply
  4. Deirdre
    June 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm (4 months ago)

    Oh Prabs… so sad for you and Maya. Sorry people can be so mean and thoughtless. You’re lucky to have a good relationship, cherish it, and cherish her xx Hugs from another new teen mum xx

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 4, 2017 at 11:18 pm (4 months ago)

      Thanks lovely

      Reply
  5. Rhyming with Wine
    June 5, 2017 at 9:06 am (4 months ago)

    My heart is breaking to read this. Thirteen is such a difficult time and teenagers can be so cruel. Our need as a parent is to protect and comfort and to wrap our previous children in a swaddling blanket and hold them close. The fact that we can’t do this forever is terrifying, but the best that we can do is to be there and support them. You are doing that Prabs. You are absolutely doing that. With much love to you both xx

    Reply
    • Rhyming with Wine
      June 6, 2017 at 3:53 pm (4 months ago)

      … Just back via #DreamTeam lovely. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. xx

      Reply
  6. justsayingmum
    June 5, 2017 at 9:42 am (4 months ago)

    Oh this was very very hard to read. I’m heartbroken for you both. Well for all of you. There is so much about parenting a teen that I find so hard to put into words. It is, without doubt, the most trying time as a parent and I often contemplate with Philip about how we never ever considered the emotional journey of children before having them. I have never felt so much to the bottom of my heart since parenting teens. It’s hard enough without the cruelty of others. I’m going to say this and I will probably be shot down but parents of cruel children have to have some blame in this. Musical M has a wonderful rock of a family around her and her values shine through in this post so that is what will make her get through this. Big hugs to you all my lovely xx #BigPinkLink

    Reply
  7. kristin mccarthy
    June 5, 2017 at 11:40 am (4 months ago)

    I cant even deal with this right now. This one is straight killing me. My girl is turning ten and I dont know how I will ever cope with this kind of thing…but I know I will have to. Times four.

    #bigpinklink

    Reply
  8. Emma T
    June 5, 2017 at 9:31 pm (4 months ago)

    What a heartfelt post. I’m so sad to hear this for her at what should be a wonderful time, and a carefree age in her life. Hopefully things will improve and she’ll find her way, with her family behind her. It sounds like she has a wonderful relationship with you and knows you’re there for her which is what our job as mums is.

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you so much. That seems to be the resounding opinion so I’ll take comfort in that.

      Reply
  9. Sadie
    June 5, 2017 at 10:37 pm (4 months ago)

    I’m trying to pull myself together enough to write a response to this, because I cannot read and run. You have put into words so many feelings and thoughts I have for my son who is experiencing similar pain and upset. Your daughter does not deserve to feel this way, and neither do you. I wish I had a solution, for all of us.

    Reply
    • Sadie
      June 5, 2017 at 10:39 pm (4 months ago)

      God, I’m a mess…
      #bigpinklink

      Reply
      • prabs
        June 5, 2017 at 10:42 pm (4 months ago)

        lol!! no worries

        Reply
    • prabs
      June 5, 2017 at 10:41 pm (4 months ago)

      It’s just SO common I have to wonder what on earth happens to human beings around a certain age and why puberty etc seems to lead to utter cruelty in some kids. I don’t know what the solution is either. Thanks so much for commenting.

      Reply
  10. Lucy At Home
    June 6, 2017 at 2:52 pm (4 months ago)

    Oh I am so sorry – your pain and heartbreak and worry just leaps off the page. But also, take comfort form the fact that it is clear you are in tune with your daughter and she knows that she can come to you.

    Also, if it helps, I remember my 13th birthday being an absolute disaster and I was convinced my teens were going to be awful, but it wasn’t the case. I hope things are resolved soon. It’s miserable going through the pain #dreamteam

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm (4 months ago)

      Thank you so much. Gosh why is teenager life so awful?!

      Reply
  11. Jo (MotherofTeenagers)
    June 6, 2017 at 10:40 pm (4 months ago)

    The teenage years are tough. As a parent you know you have to stand back more as they start reaching for more independence and part of that is them learning to fight their own upsets and battles. Both my teens have been through horrific times and I felt so much worry and angst for them. We discussed the issues, came up with a solution and then they went into battle themselves. They have come out so strong as a result. It is a tough life lesson but one that they need to learn. Be there, support your gorgeous girl, hold her when she cries and rages but let her deal with it. In the meantime, smile with fangs my love. Cut off those girls and their parents, because they are not bloody worth the effort. Worse they are weak. What are they are doing complaining to the school? Pathetic. Rise above it because for them the truth of their meanness hurts more than anything else and that is guilt! Big hugs my lovely. x

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 7, 2017 at 1:15 am (4 months ago)

      Oh Jo that is such wonderful advice. Thank you. Yes that’s the path we’re choosing too. And yes absolutely stunned re parents’ reaction but they’re in the minority.

      Reply
  12. This Mum's Life
    June 7, 2017 at 3:47 pm (4 months ago)

    Oh Prabs… This is the fourth time I’ve read this now, and each time is more devastating than the first. My heart is breaking for all of you-for your precious girl having to deal with this, and you as a mum for having the burden of needing to put it right, but not knowing how. You sound like you are describing me as a child-I had a practically identical experience. And its had a huge impact on my adult life-I have no confidence, don’t trust anyone, find reasons to shut people out of my life to defend myself from them shutting me out first, and of course the anxiety and panic disorders. I know home schooling was mentioned above-if my children experience anything similar at school, me and my husband will immediately remove them from school and home school-we have already made a pact about that.
    But in all that, I have never resorted to lowering myself to be the same as these awful people. I’m angry at them, but will always treat anyone I come across with kindness and compassion. And tell little M from me, that she must be so special-if her light is so bright the bullies want to dim it with their horrible words-then she really is one of the special ones xx
    #bigpinklink

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 8, 2017 at 12:16 am (3 months ago)

      I cannot get over how you read it 4 times and am so grateful. It’s awful that the experience of school did that to you. And thank you so much for the kind words.

      Reply
  13. Oldhouseintheshires
    June 14, 2017 at 11:57 am (3 months ago)

    This is a very sad post and I’m sorry your daughter is struggling. All I can offer is you obviously love your daughter very much and if she is reading this, to know that she is loved is so important. Home schooling is a great option and there are lots of home school groups you could join so don’t worry about socialisation. Good luck. #bloggerclubuk

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm (3 months ago)

      Thank you, that’s lovely of you.

      Reply
      • Oldhouseintheshires
        June 21, 2017 at 9:20 pm (3 months ago)

        I’m back with #tweensteensbeyond I hope things are a little easy for you this week and that your lovely girl is feeling ok. Much love. (((Hugs)))

        Reply
        • prabs
          June 21, 2017 at 10:24 pm (3 months ago)

          ah thank you how sweet

          Reply
  14. Michelle Kellogg
    June 14, 2017 at 2:48 pm (3 months ago)

    Having a teen can be so challenging while so rewarding at the same time. My 15 year old struggles with socialization but is getting better at it. Meanwhile, it’s actually my more social 10 year old who gets bullied. I just went through that recently and while the mama bear in me took care of the bullying situation, the whole thing was hard for my son. The bully was someone he considered to be a friend and he had to learn a hard lesson about what friendship really means and I had long talks with him about that and similar things he was going through. As they get older, so many things get easier from when they are babies but the one thing that gets harder is knowing that we can’t protect them from the world. This has been very hard for me for both of my boys. The older they get, the less control you have over keeping them safe and happy and that’s so scary but there is a silver lining in all of this and that is the talk you had and that she felt comfortable and safe in coming to you about it. Sometimes us just listening to them and holding them is just the strength they need to become stronger and more resilient. You had me in tears there Prabs! I hope you and your daughter find your way through this, as I believe you will. #bloggerclubuk

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 14, 2017 at 4:05 pm (3 months ago)

      Lovely words of advice Michelle even if I made you cry. Thank you.

      Reply
  15. MMT
    June 15, 2017 at 8:07 pm (3 months ago)

    Oh this is so hard to read – the pictures of that darling innocent smile that reminds me so much of my own five year old – it’s just unbearable to think of that being shattered by the trials of the teenage years. I sincerely hope this is a small blip that you and her can get through together – it sounds like she needs you to be the best Mummy you can right now, so don’t spend your energy questioning your actions, just feel it inside what is right for her and that’s the best thing you can do. Sending so much love to you and to your M. The teen years can be a hell of a bumpy ride, so sit tight and get to the end of it together xxx
    Thanks for linking with #coolmumclub

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 15, 2017 at 8:26 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks so much Sarah. This is just the toughest phase for me and there is no rule book.

      Reply
  16. Random Musings
    June 18, 2017 at 2:52 pm (3 months ago)

    This post broke my heart. I can’t imagine the pain of knowing your child is suffering and in pain and you can’t do anything about it. I can’t imagine how it feels for M to be made to feel bad at school every day.
    But I do know this – when school is over (and it might feel like a very long time, but it really isn’t) she’ll be the one who makes it in the real world. In the real world, people don’t like bullies and the horrible people who think its ok to say cruel things to other will be the ones who are ostracized and left feeling alone, while your daughter will be surrounded by like minded people who are kind and caring.
    If M has inherited even a fraction of your strength, she will get through this!
    Thanks for linking up to #BloggerClubUK 🙂
    Debbie

    Reply
  17. Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    June 19, 2017 at 11:39 am (3 months ago)

    I agree with the other commenters, it’s so hard to read this as a parent, knowing this type of difficulty lies ahead for my kids too. It gets harder as they get older & kids can be so cruel. I’m sorry for all the drama your daughter & your whole family has gone through rather than being able to celebrate her birthday with happiness. I hope things get easier soon. Thank you for sharing with us at #BloggerClubUK x

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm (3 months ago)

      ah thank you Becky and yes your reaction is the one most parents would have hence my shock at certain people’s reaction at school!

      Reply
  18. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine
    June 19, 2017 at 8:53 pm (3 months ago)

    Oh you’ve brought tears to my eyes. This must be one of the most painful things to endure as a parent; to see your children in pain. And that’s hard for us parents of younger children- knowing this will be on us before too long. I hope your daughter has a brilliant birthday and that the party goes well. I know she will be fine with you as her mother to help guide her. Lots of love to you. #CoolMumClub xxx

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 19, 2017 at 10:30 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh Cheryl thank you.

      Reply
  19. JADE THE PARENTING JUNGLE
    June 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm (3 months ago)

    Oh darling yes you are a mother, not a psychologist, don’t think because you may have not spotted something that’s you letting your child down. Take it as a positive that you have created such a safe, structured and supportive home that she thrives there. I’m a social worker, trine teacher and have a degree in child psychology and my son is bordering on an autism diagnosis. My son cries every day that he hates school, says he has a stomach ache daily, a headache etc. I get frustrated at myself and him and then sad because I do so, I encourage him to try and enjoy himself and make friends but I am heartbroken when sometimes he is told that no one wants to play with him. That is a perfect thirteenth birthday post, a mother who loves her child for everything they are, that will support them and cry with them. Life is just as much about difficult things as it is good and how you overcome them together. Birthday wishes and love #coolmumclub xxx

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm (3 months ago)

      wow Jade I didn’t know you did that. Gosh. Thank you so much my dear.

      Reply
  20. Jo (MotherofTeenagers)
    June 22, 2017 at 8:05 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Prabs so glad you have responded to my nagging and linked up this post with us. I hope things are improving for you all because it is draining as a family when one of you is upset but your daughter sounds like she is made of stern stuff. Since my last comment my daughter has had a major altercation with a frenemy that has dogged her for about a year. She has followed my advice, smiled with fangs, been polite not rude and risen above it. This has really got to the girl in question and when she decided to confront my daughter last week in front of a packed classroom my daughter told her what she really thought. Actually I think exploded was the term she used relaying the story. I am glad she finally stood up to her. It has been a long time coming. There is no need for this kind of behaviour, our world is so full of negativity and confrontation. It is so tough to watch their upset but your daughter will come out the other side stronger and most of that will be down to you and the support and courage you give her. Hugs as always. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Reply
    • prabs
      June 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm (3 months ago)

      Oh my goodness what an ordeal for her but an amazing outcome. Thank you for the lovely comment.

      Reply

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