When I was a little girl, my imagination would look forward to the future, to being a mum, having a family, everything being perfect. The sun would be shining, my family would be full of smiles and giggles and we would all skip through fields holding hands as if from a scene from Little House on the Prairie.
In reality it could not be more different. I have two daughters fairly close in age, both with completely different characters. In the beginning they were the best of friends. Whatever the older one did the other would follow. If the older one asked the younger to do something she would do it without question. There was even a point when I would dress them the same, which they never complained about. At this point I thought they would always be the best of friends and there would never be a quibble between them. They would become teenagers, young women and share clothes and make-up. They would go out together and giggle away at girlie gossip.
I am not sure at what point this changed or the exact timing of it but my sweet, loving companions are now constantly at war. One is a teenager and maturing before my eyes. Going from a girl into a woman and blossoming. I look at her with envy often and wish that I looked as she does when I was 13. I am so proud of her, she is intelligent, articulate and has such a caring heart. The other is pre-teen and her blossoming is only just beginning. Proud is not enough of a word to describe how I feel about her. She is the strong one. For two girls who, when little, were like mirror images of each other they are now so different. This is where I feel I am in a huge hole and desperately trying to scrape my way back to the top.
I have read over the years that raising girls is never easy and, now that I am in the thick of it, I 100% agree. I never seem to get anything right for them. I always had this illusion that I would be seen as the cool mum, be friends with my kids. I can honestly say anyone who achieves this is either extremely laid back or a genius. I am told that once you get past the teenage years this will come, but right now that seems a mammoth task.
My girls bicker from morning until night, they argue over the most trivial things. It is a constant battle of wills. Due to a recent house move and renovations the girls are currently sharing a room. Stupid me, thinking this would be great for them. For them to be close again, have each other’s company. How wrong I was, instead I wonder which one is going to throttle the other one first. The looks they can give each other would turn anyone to stone. Medusa wouldn’t get a look in.
I try so hard to be fair. Try to listen to each other’s side of things when a disagreement erupts. Not wanting to favour one over the other, but, no matter how many parenting books I have read or programmes I have watched, nothing prepares you for being in the thick of it when your two daughters want you to side with either one of them and for you to spit venom at the other just because she has pinched one of her nail polishes. Then there are the surreal moments when things get so heated and discipline in the strongest form is required. Voices are raised and I put my foot down then at the flip of a coin they side with each other. “Mum don’t shout at her”. I can only describe it as like being on a playground roundabout and being pushed so fast that when you come off you are still in a spin. Confusion seems to last for several minutes after.
My girls are absolutely at the love/hate relationship stage. I know without a shadow of a doubt that neither would ever see any harm come to the other. Sibling protection will always be there with them. That I know, but right now I am in a hole and, with my efforts to both keep the peace between them and myself, it is not getting any easier to climb out. Now when I think to the future I hope and pray that my girls get through this and once again become the close friends they once were.
*40 Shades of Mum is Louise Smith is a mum of three from Scotland.