Written by Claire Handrick


Living with a teenage stranger

Claire Handrick has misjudged the challenges of being the mother of a teenager and has decided to chronicle the joys, frustrations, hair-pulling moments and deep-rooted fears she’s experiencing. This week, she’s sick of being sick of the mess.

Illustration by Harriet Carmichael.

So, having two teenage girls in my house is fun! (Please ensure to receive, loud and clear, the sarcasm with which that sentence was keyboard slammed.)

As a parent I am currently struggling with meeting the ever-changing demands of my children and I feel like I can’t do anything right.

I cling to those moments of calm – the cuddles, the laughs, the movies, the dancing around the kitchen – because they are wonderful moments, and they have to keep me going through the moments of slamming doors, the hormonal huffs and the arguments.

By nature teenagers, rather like toddlers, are pretty selfish. They struggle to think about anyone else and, as Mum, I can feel like I am at the bottom of the pile. Of course they don’t notice or appreciate the clean clothes, the full fridge, the dinners every evening, the lifts and the money when they want to go out.

Today I am in full fucking whinge mode because I am tired right now – juggling work, home, getting ready for Christmas and trying to look after me is taking its toll… and I am struggling to not lose my shit over the state of their rooms and the lack of offers to help around the house.

I am tired, feeling run down and I’m sick of nagging. So my house is a tip and I am in a bad mood! I may have mentioned this earlier?

When I am in a more positive frame of mind, I can do this; I can jolly the kids along, I can negotiate and discipline and I can hit them where it hurts – seeing friends and watching ridiculous YouTubers. As a mother of teenagers on this day, I don’t seem to be able to get the balance right and I feel like I am getting everything squarely wrong.

I just want a happy house which has a hint of order and organisation, but I am struggling with their lack of desire to take responsibility for their own mess. Is this my fault for not being tough on them? Probably. They dig their heels in, everyone gets cross and I don’t want home to be a battleground. But I also don’t want home to be a dumping ground either.

I get that they don’t see the mess and I know this is not exclusive to my kids, but this week the wet towels, the makeup that doesn’t get put away, the scattered clothes and shoes, the school books that are left out are driving me insane. And the lack of help and their general can’t-be-botheredness about picking up after themselves and looking after the space they live in is making me upset.

I don’t want a show home but I am so sick of mess. Maybe this mum needs to toughen up, but right now I just don’t have the energy. So instead, I’ll look forward to the next time we end up dancing around the kitchen. While I fold up another bastard towel.

Read the rest of Claire Handrick’s columns here.

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Written by Claire Handrick

Mother, ponderer and cake eater.