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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’M A FINALIST (EEK!) IN THE READER’S CHOICE CATEGORY OF THE BRILLIANCE IN BLOGGING AWARDS.
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