Tag Archives: teenagers are hard work

9/9/99

I wrote this blog post back in August this year. After writing it my life changed so suddenly and so completely when, in the space of one week I got a job, that I didn’t get to post it. So here it is now…

Fifteen years ago on the 9/9/99 my life changed irrevocably when teengirl, or baby girl as she was then, got sick.
Less than a week later she was in a neurosurgery ward fighting for her life having already had one brain surgery.
And yet despite that serious surgery doctors were still convinced my baby wouldn’t survive that Thursday night.
Then when she did they didn’t expect her to survive the weekend. Every time they told me this I told them they were wrong. And they looked at me like I was either mad or I just wasn’t hearing them.

Two more brain surgeries later, two blood transfusions and after an e-coli infection in the fluid around her brain failed to beat her the doctor’s finally began to see the strength I saw in her – small smiles began to brighten their faces when they came into her room.

Six weeks later and my baby who was repeatedly expected to die was sent home from hospital looking like her head had a fight with a stapler and a cross-stitcher.

And I attempted to breathe out after the truck that hit me every morning drove away. But the breath was stuck firmly in my stomach, a knot of hard boiled air just sat there.

Before teengirl got sick I chased my dreams so hard that sometimes I hit them with such force I didn’t recognise them through my daze. My twenties were filled with adventures and terror; highlights and lowlights; fights; parties; joy; happiness; discontent.

In my twenties I got married – twice. Engaged 3 times. I also got divorced twice. I had two children, lived in France, Spain and America twice.

I had a great job as a national newspaper news journalist before teengirl got sick. I worked hard, it was stressful but damn I loved it and was actually pretty good at it. News stories I broke made front pages around the world, news stories that I’d uncovered changed laws and saved people’s lives.

And it hurts me to admit, in fact it terrifies me to admit, that I haven’t worked since the 16th of September 1999 and neither have I chased my dreams. I retreated into a space of tightness, exhaustion and fear where I felt safe despite constantly feeling afraid. A space where I had as close to total control as I could.

For the first year after teengirl came home I was a terrified wreck. Neurosurgeons had no idea what caused her subdural haematoma and they’d no idea if it would happen again.

The day I took her home from the hospital teengirl was a ten and a half month old beautiful baby girl with a shaved head featuring black stitches in a criss cross pattern down one side and a multitude of staples running from the front to the back of the top of her head that made people stare in disgust.

Just minutes before teengirl was discharged doctors told me she was a miracle. That I should be thankful she was alive. Then they told me they didn’t know what effect the brain haemorrhage would have on her: they didn’t know if she would walk or if she would talk, what she would be able to do.

Now you all know that teengirl can walk and boy can she talk, but those first few years were terrifying for me.
Doctors told me not to wrap her up in cotton wool, to let her go, let her fall, let her bump her head. When she walked at 18 months that hard boiled breath that lived in my stomach grew wings and flew to my throat with every tiny little wobbling step she took.

I bet you can guess how fast those wings of fear beat when this tiny little miracle with the head that was too big for her body opted to run everywhere instead of walk. Oh good god, how many times could one little girl fall over?

I couldn’t go back to work. Teengirl had first got sick when I was at work. I don’t think I ever forgave myself for not being there that day.

Year one featured terror, year two fear and mild depression, year three more depression with a side order of hope, year four I was diagnosed with PTSD and so on.

And I just never returned to work.

For the past 15 years I have stayed at home with teengirl and teenboy and then baby boy when he came along four and a half years ago. I have been firmly and fearfully ensconced in my comfort zone, living half a life – living an illusion.

Last week I did an NLP exercise that involved looking back 5 years and writing down what my life was like. I then wrote down where my life is now before writing down where I want it to be in five years from now. I was absolutely horrified to realise that my life today is the same as it was not just five years ago but 15 years ago.

And it turns out that I’m actually incredibly unhappy in my not so comfy comfort zone. What will I do every day when babyboy starts school?

I can’t continue to do the same thing every day and expect different results. It’s time for change. It’s time for me to climb out of the space that holds me too tightly perpetuating the hard boiled breath fixed like a fist in my chest, for me to stop trying to control the past, present and future, it’s time for me to let go – to rediscover my dreams and begin to chase them again.

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Are Your Teens Having Kevin and Perry Moments?

Teenboy got back from uni just over a week ago.  For the first 3 days he was back he was the perfect 19 year old son – baby boy would wake him up and he’d spend an hour playing with him and watching TV with him, then they’d both wander into the living room teenboy looking for breakfast babyboy looking for lunch.  Then teenboy would sit on the couch with me chatting telling me all about his new life at uni, all his new friends, the girl he likes.

We even had a long chat about him lacking self confidence since he moved out to uni so much so that he’s not sure if he can actually get himself to America this summer.  We discussed his health – he’s feeling a bit overweight and worn out – quite a normal occurrence for students in their first year of university.

Then on Thursday it was like overnight he’d flipped from the perfect son into hellboy incarnate.

I’d no idea what had happened.  I was aghast and appalled and had no idea what I’d done to make him ‘flip’ over to the darkside.   I also had no idea what to do to get my perfect teenboy back.

I mulled all weekend (for mulled read stewed and worried) and then it hit me at 4am this morning – he’s just doing what we all do when we have to spend too much time with our parents.

We revert back to being sulky teenagers.

So I told him my realisation this afternoon.  Our talk went a little bit like this:

“You were the perfect son for 3 days when you came home and then bam overnight you turned into both Kevin and Perry.”

Cue teenboy laughing.

“You’ve been walking around here going ‘urghh muUUuum I’m sooooo bored’ ‘you’re so stupid’ ‘why is my life so rubbish’ ‘urrghhh muUUuum you can’t tell me what to do’, all in the your best imitation of both Kevin and Perry”

Cue more laughing from teenboy.

“I understand that it’s hard to live at home and we all revert to being teenagers when we spend too much time with our parents.  You see what I’m like if I spend too much time with gran and grampa?  But now you know you do that could you please be a little bit self aware and try to curb the worst Kevin and Perry responses cos that would just make both yours and my life so much easier these holidays.”

He laughed again and said he understood and agreed to try his best to limit his Kevin and Perry moments.

I’ve spent so much time shouting at him then trying to work out how to get into his head to make him see the impact he’s having on the household, trying to work out why he’s being such a pain in the arse.

And all I had to do was make him laugh with a reference to some 90s pop culture.  And show him that I understand how hard it is to come home to live even when it’s for just 3 weeks.

I can’t guarantee that we won’t have any more run in this holiday but at least now I’ve got a handle on it I can be way more calm and understanding – he’s just having a bit of a teenager moment.

Teenagers don’t have it as easy as we are oft to believe, take ten minutes and have a look back at yours.  Then take another couple of minutes and remember the last time you spent more than a weekend with your parents, did you become Kevin and/or Perry?

kevin and perry the world's worse teenagers

Kevin and Perry the most perfect portrayal of teenagers ever. From bbc.co.uk


Teenagers Need Hugs

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Babies are at least Cute

Like I said already if you’ve got teenagers then you’ll know exactly what I’m blogging on about. If you don’t have teens in your house then be prepared to have your eyes opened.

The teens in my house really are exorcist like head spinning, swear word spitting, selfish, egocentric pains In the arse. And they’re driving me bloody nuts. Thats why I’ve turned to the blogging – I need to get this shit out of my head before it explodes into a million frustrated, insane, nagging, full of fear, living on a knives edge of worry tiny little pieces embedding into the once cream walls of my lovely house.

And to be honest it’s not just the teenagers that are driving me nuts it’s all the heavy shit that comes with them. Right now the oldest one is having car insurance problems (there will be a rant on that later, I promise) while the other one is just too bloody clever for her own (and my) good, she spends her life glued to tumblr and talks of fan girls and people on you tube and tumblr like their her best friends.

And do you know what I realised today?

I need to find out more about all this stuff. How do I help my oldest get finance for uni, how do I help him get student accommodation, how do I stop his insurance company ripping him off? Have you heard of topless Tuesday on tumblr? No neither had I, and if I don’t know what it is then how do I protect my 13 year old teenage daughter from it?

Oh and their demands to be a picked up, dropped off, for new clothes, for food, for money, for cars, for car insurance goes on and on and on and on.

When they’re babies and toddlers they’re so cute that when you look at them you melt and forgive them waking you up 12 times last night, or for throwing their dinner in your face, spitting their milk on the dog, wiping their snot on the vicar.

But teenagers are spotty, smelly, noisy, annoying great lumps who take over your house and your TV. They tower above you, treat you with disdain, they steal your clothes, they eat your secret stash of chocolate and drink your beer and wine (and any other alcohol in your house) and instead of talking to you they grunt or babble at 100 words a second about stuff you don’t understand but you can’t admit you don’t understand cos thats soooooo not cool.

Teenagers should be more cuter, really they should.

Oh, I feel better already!

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