Photo: Elijah Henderson

My latest mission, along with mindfulness (when I can remember) is positive self-reflection. Particularly in the parenting department. I have decided that rather than laying my head on the pillow each night with thoughts of  ‘well that was a disaster’,  ‘you really screwed that one up’ and “when was the last time you washed this pillow case?’ I am going to celebrate the positives that have occurred over the past day. Or week. Month. Ok, just whenever I can think of one.

I have been ‘attempting’ to homeschool both of my children for the past 7 years. In the early years, when we first started, it was so blissfully easy.  I would only have to announce: ‘let’s go to the beach and talk about the tidal pattern” and in return was met by a beautiful chorus of “Yay! We love you, Mummy! You’re the best Mummy EVER!!”

Now? They are 13 and 16. If I even hint at suggesting that the vampires step outside into the sunshine,  I’m faced with the ‘look.  ‘No.We’re fine. You go. We just need to stay at home and watch something hilarious about a cat on YouTube.’

So, if I’m being honest here, homeschooling two teenagers is proving to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In.My. Life. I would send them back to school but I can’t face getting up at 7 am to get them on the bus.

But hang on a minute missy. We aren’t here to talk about failures, are we? No, we are focusing on parenting wins. Here we go then. Ermm…

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There must be something.

Bear with me here ok?

I’m 46 and going through perimenopause so my brain is like a bowl of jelly.  I can only remember stuff that happened either when I was in the womb or yesterday. Take your pick. Right, here’s on from yesterday then.

I have a friend who in my opinion, has cracked this parenting malarky. She’d modestly deny this but it’s true. Her son is the same age as mine but that’s where our parenting similarities end. Whereas I spend my days wailing like a banshee, she spends hers horizontally cruising.  And you know why? Easy. Because she l-i-s-t-e-n-s. Shuts her mouth. Remains silent when being spoken to by her son. Simple.

When he talks, she smiles and nods (I know). When he brings his new girlfriend home, she welcomes them both with open arms.

In comparison (yes, I know its really bad to compare but this is a blog. So. ) In comparison:

When my son talks I can’t wait to butt in, making it almost impossible for the poor boy to get a word in edgeways, already there, having decided in my jelly mind what it is he’s going to say and racing with him to get to the finish line.

If he hints at bringing a girlfriend back to the house, I’m straight in there like a hyena, thinking of some witty derogatory remark that I can amuse myself with (I don’t get out much.)

“Just let him talk Liz” I hear my beautiful friend say in her ever so lovely calm voice.

I try. I swear, I try so damn hard. And guess what? Last week, I. Did. It.

I listened without prejudice as my old hero George would say.

I don’t know if it was due to the fact that I was under the influence of medication. Maybe. I had a throat infection at the time, and so was on strong antibiotics. Perhaps they were dulling my responses, who knows? Who cares? All I know is that he got into the car and started to speak. I mean really speak. Using words other than good, ok and I don’t mind’, speak.

And all the while, my hands were gripping the steering wheel so hard I thought my knuckles would give me away. I had to put down the window to get some wind on my middle aged flushed face and to remind me to keep it buttoned. But hear this. I. Did. Not. Speak. I just listened.

It’s not as easy as you think. I won’t deny that my mouth gained a few more vertical lip lines around it due to the fact that my lips were pursed together so hard, but still, I did not speak. I continued to listen. And as I did so, we both started to relax and he told me some really, really juicy stuff. (I’ll tell you in another post when he’s not looking).

By the time we arrived at our destination I could see that he’d appreciated being able to say the things that were on his mind without the constant gnawing rat interruptions. As he climbed out of the car and waved “Bye! Love you” I wanted to drag him back by his trouser leg and scream in his face like a lunatic:

“I love you, sweetheart! I love you so, so much. I’m sorry I’m a banshee. I’m trying so hard, I really am. Didn’t I do well? Aren’t I amazing for not talking for 8.5 minutes?”

But I didn’t.

I smiled and said, ” Love you too sweetheart”.

And that my friend is my parenting win.

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