Photo credit: The Year of Lettering
I would like to start this post by saying this quote should say fathers and mothers. And now that’s out of the way, I can get to my real reason for writing.
It’s funny the things you remember about your childhood. My teenage years were pretty tumultuous. We’d been living in Jamaica since I was ten and my mother (a blonde, blue-eyed Australian woman) had never really gotten on with some of my Jamaican step-dad’s family. Not so quietly behind her back, they called her the white witch. She eventually bought herself some land, built a house on it and moved herself away from them – even if it was only a few hundred metres down the road.
It must have been hard on her. She didn’t have any family there, just me and Aden and my step-dad who was probably not the man she thought she’d moved halfway across the world for. She’d managed to make friends with a few other female ex-pats living in Negril at the time. Germans, Brits, French, Canadians and Americans, all with their own issues and struggles, some of which made mum’s pale in comparison.
I had my own problems. When my mum moved to her second house when I was about 15, I stayed behind with no supervision. I would walk around to my mum’s on weekends or of a night time, if I wanted dinner. I was smoking marijuana, often with my mum. She’d smoked for almost as long as I could remember and our stepdad grew it on the land above her house. I was also going to parties and drinking and having sex. The typical out of control teenager, you could say.
I’m not sure how much of it my mum was aware of (aside from the weed) but we had some very real discussions. When she wasn’t in a psychotic break from her weed addiction, she was a good person to talk to because she was honest and didn’t sugar coat things or talk down to you. When she was too messed up, all you heard about was god and Jesus. Not exactly welcome words to a teenager hell bent on self destruction.
The one thing I do remember her saying to me was something along the lines of “This is the worst time of your life. If you get through your teenage years, everything will be much easier”. And she was right. Teenage years are hellish. Teenagers are the worst people on the planet. You’re so full of hormones, you can’t think straight and you do crazy, thoughtless things because you have no understanding of consequences. And when things are bad, it feels like they will never, ever, ever be good again. As bad as adulthood can be, you at least feel like you have some control over your life and your own body isn’t betraying you (well, in most cases).
I think this is one of the things I will tell my own children, if I have them (or if I ever end up in a deep and meaningful conversation with a miscellaneous teenager). It helped me at the time and, when you’re an adult (or at least out of your teens), you can look back and wonder at the wisdom of your seemingly future-seeing parent.
I also think my mother was just saying this to comfort me, so I wouldn’t do anything drastic. I doubt she remembers saying it and would be surprised that I’d chalk this up as an Awesome Parenting Moment. She was a good mum and I know she did her best. She had quite a few of those moments but I doubt our lists would match if we both wrote them down.