We’re still in the grip of the norovirus. My partner has succumbed and has spent most of the weekend in bed on or on the sofa, groaning. In the meantime, daughter three has decided to go vegan, joining her sisters. With them I have spent a lot of time talking about the importance of getting the right vitamins etc and calories. I went through a period with daughter two of worrying about extremist vegan sites that seem to be similar to those promoting eating disorders. But then daughter two eats literally tonnes of pasta and lentils so I don’t think she is cutting back. She also seems to have a better knowledge than me of minerals and vitamins and supplements things with B12 powder and the like.
Daughter three, however, has occasionally been skipping lunch. I had a long rant about the dangers of eating disorders on the way home from picking her up from a party where a mum told me she had eaten a slice of bread and some cucumber. “You don’t have to be like your sisters, you know,” I said. “You are your own person and a very lovely one and daughter one is teetering on the brink in any event” [I found her lying on her bed sniffing the fumes from her dad cooking some cod with a longing look on her face the other day as she contemplated another round of lentils]. There was silence. “I am not trying to be like my sisters, mum.” Then she gave a very well thought through ethical argument for veganism, though with slightly embellished claims about the dangers of drinking milk [her description seemed to equate it with drinking cyanide].
I feel I spend a lot of time worrying about the internet and read out news about the dangers of social media to the kids every five minutes, usually when they are captive in the car. “Have you got instagram?” I asked daughter three the other day. I knew daughter one was very sceptical of social media [“it’s just people pretending to be happy, mum” she said aged 13] and that daughter two is currently living in either the 50s or 80s so I wasn’t so worried about them. Daughter three is on her phone all the time, though, despite all attempts to lure her into the world of reading. She replied that she didn’t have instagram and wouldn’t get it. Of course teenagers often say one thing to their parents and do another so I made what I considered to be a reasoned argument against it. “It won’t make you happy,” I finished, slightly aware that I may have overplayed my argument and that it may make instagram even more attractive.
I realise that I am not very good at being a mum of a teenager. Daughter one went to her first nightclub at Christmas and I spent half the night awake. I need to get some sleep in now while she is doing mocks because I realise this is going to be my life for the next 10 years.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.