Why being the mom of a tween is so hard
Building Boys, my favourite new Facebook page, posted an article about how being mum to middle-schoolers (that’s 10 year olds to me) is hard. The piece spoke directly to me. I am mum to an 11 year old boy, who started secondary school today and whilst I am no longer facing issues such as nappy-explosions, feeding stand-offs or other problems a new parent has no choice over, I have done my time there and paid all my dues (I think). Here’s why I think being mum to a tween is so hard:
- Where are the tween mum blogs? To extrapolate the Building Boys’ article , there is a plethora of help and aid for new parents, including hilarious mummy blogs and Facebook pages, but scant few for tween mums. I love those mum blogs, but it puts me off to read titles such as “The ten things you wish you were told as a new mum” and “What I learned from childbirth”. Don’t get me wrong, I love that these exist. I wish they’d been around when I was at that stage – but I’ve passed this. I want to read “The ten things you wish you were told as a new mum to a tween” or “How to talk tween”. There are a few mummy blogs who cope with this, which I thoroughly enjoy reading (MumOfThreeWorld is one of them) but they are far and few between! I don’t want breastfeeding stories, birth recounts, guilty posts about me time … I want “How to cope with a bloody annoying teenager”. Perhaps there are no author-mothers who have come out of the other side of the tween years; maybe they are all Stepford Mums! That article I want to read? I might have to write it myself.
- Hormones! I am going through hormonal changes at the same time as my son! Whilst my son is starting to sprout hairs on his chin, so am I! His adolescence probably won’t give him hot flushes like my perimenopause does, but we probably both need to up our deoderant purchases. It doesn’t look good for a few years. Maybe better having a boy, I don’t know?
- Our friendship networks change. I had a fantastic NCT group and am luckily still in touch with some. I always bang on about how much we went through together and I know I wouldn’t have coped without their support. One friend in particular, we met up every single weekday for coffee and cake, slowly avoiding the cake, reducing our days when the kids went to nursery and then pre-school. I also met a great gang at nursery; a group chosen by my son rather than us adults. Some of the group attended the same school, but now they will be starting all at different secondary schools. Dropping the school runs as they become more independent renders fewer school-gate friends, however the anxiety faced over secondary school starts has thrown a few of us together again (thank heavens for Facebook groups!). Being thanked at the last parent association disco was sad too, but not as traumatic as being asked to leave the primary school Facebook parents’ page as my child would no longer be attending the school! Whilst I knew I had to leave, I was kind of trying to eek it out; it hurt, I can tell you. (I actually wanted to say a nice goodbye to everyone and wish them all luck, but after being asked to leave, I just ended it! I don’t think that mum realised how much of a big deal it was!) It’s going to be much harder to meet up with other mum friends now that we can’t possibly even be in the same park as our kids, albeit outside the play area, sat chatting on a bench. Where is the nearest pub or cafe?!
- It might be too late already! I read this on one site, apologies for no citation. When the kids are young, you are given lots of advice you might wish to follow. You have a chance to mould your offspring, to change their behaviours into those you would prefer to see. However when they are a tween, you feel that most of the advice refers to what you SHOULD have done already. Tweens know their own minds. They can refuse to share with you. Whilst you can enforce bedtimes and screen times to some extent, they may be able to scam you. Now there’s probably no hope at all. The damage is already done. You may as well start filling in prison visit request forms already. Just me then?
- Their circle of influence has changed. No longer are his parents the font of all knowledge or the go-to person for advice. It’s not even been sudden, but of late, his school friends are now right about absolutely everything! What do we know? If we try to inform them, we get eye rolls and a look that says “You are totally stupid”. I’m sure I did this with my parents but it doesn’t make it any easier! Now he’s started secondary, I won’t even know his friends! I can’t vet their parents at pick-up time, I can’t judge them on their behaviour at a play date.
- They talk a different language. On holiday, Mr Humdrum was delighted to have been able to understand what a random tween shouted to his mate whilst riding past him when he was barbecuing – “Have you hear Wroetoshaw’s new diss track?” Sidemen, KSI, Jo Weller, Logang Paulers … No longer are pop stars or even football players kings of our tweens. No, they’re YouTubers. You might think, Oh I know all about them, my child is obsessed with Stampy Longnose. Ha, it gets worse. Playing Minecraft isn’t that bad, but being dragged to a Sidemen vs YouTube AllStars football match in London is on a different level. Then there’s the merch, the fact they have to watch every day to see the latest post, the diss tracks (songs disrespecting their enemies!) … Do they not realise it’s all staged? No! There’s no point telling him these Tubers are all paid to product place, and these diss tracks apparently upsetting their enemies are done to increase subscribers… See, I’ve been dragged into it now! Reminds me of the clothing brand Hype; my son couldn’t see the irony.
He’s returned from his first day at secondary, pretending he had a detention, ignoring his homework and rushing to play out with his friend. He’s still my little boy.