I knew this day would come. Of course I knew. I was a teenage girl myself once not that long ago. I know what happens, I know how it works.
Holly had been chatting about 'the boy' for a while now. That’s what you do when you really like someone isn’t? You find any excuse to mention them even though you don’t know you’re doing it. But this wasn’t my friend who likes a guy, it was my daughter, my baby and this is dangerous territory.
So she comes home from school and casually drops it into our ‘how’s your day gone’ conversation. The conversation we have every day. Except this isn’t about the funny thing that happened in maths or that she sang a solo in the choir. This is about a boy, ‘the boy’ the one she likes and I can tell she’s smitten.
‘Please don’t have sex’ I blurt out. Completely by accident and regretting what I’ve said immediately. I couldn’t help it. This is the only thing I’m thinking. Oh my God this is my baby. It wasn’t that long ago that she pressed her warm little body up against mine at night and smoothed my hair as she slept.
She thought only about her dolls and The Tweenies back then. Now her head is filled with BOY STUFF and she’s constantly on her phone snap chatting with ‘the boy’ and I’m so scared because she’s not my baby anymore even though she’ll always be my baby.
‘MUUUM don’t be gross, just because I have a boyfriend doesn’t mean we’re going to do THAT urgh!'
I think about what I’ve said and I apologise. Then I think some more. I tell her that actually I’m not sorry I said it. I might be over the top but I need to be able to say this.
I have to approach the subject carefully, I’ve never wanted my older children to feel they were not wanted. Not planned obviously, but definitely wanted. They understand though, that you can’t just go round having babies when you’re a teenager and expecting everything to turn out ok. I got lucky, but well, let’s face it no one really imagines that for their children do they? I’ve always told them they have their whole lives ahead of them and the world is their oyster to do with whatever they wish, to fulfil their ambitions and dreams.
Dream big I tell them.
It’s not just the baby thing either. She has to be safe. All of our young people need to know these things and I want my children to have all the facts. I never want them to think that they can’t talk to me about sex or relationships. I insist we are all to be open and honest with one another. This has been my goal and it’s so important to me. More so now than ever.
I need her to be sensible. I want her to know that she can tell me anything and I might be cross but I will always, ALWAYS be there for her. No matter what.
I lay down some ground rules;
’The boy’ can come for tea, and you can sit in your bedroom to watch TV but you have to leave the door wide open and put up with me or possibly an errant toddler coming in with no warning whatsoever for absolutely no reason.
You are allowed to go to tea at ‘the boy’s’ house but I will need to check with his parents that they are going to be there. Trust me they won’t think I’m mental.
Don’t give up your friends, you will need them one day if this doesn’t work out believe me.
School work comes first, this means you have to give up your phone/ipad for at least 2 hours every evening. You have your GCSEs next year and you’re going to work your socks off. Or else.
And that was that. The day my almost 15 year old tells me she has a boyfriend, a real one who she like, loves.
This feels momentous like a massive turning point in our lives. I have a friend who thinks I’m being overly dramatic about this. A little bit crazy even. Tells me it’s just a crush and we all had boyfriends when we were at school and it’ll be fine. I know she’s right, in a way. At the same time though I can’t help but feel like something’s changed...
She’s grown from a girl into a young woman, before my eyes but without me seeing. I feel so proud of the person she’s become and sad all at once for the passing of time and the childish innocence that is gone now. It’s so bittersweet watching your children grow.
Please always be my baby Holly, please come and cuddle me and sing into my ear and twiddle my hair. Please climb in bed with me on a Sunday morning and snuggle up to me and ask me for pancakes.
Please remember I love you to the end of the earth and I always will.