I was having a conversation with my almost 16 and almost 17 year old last week. Of course, life is different now, than it was in my day, because I am just ‘old fashioned’ right? The (almost) 17 year old has been working as a volunteer now for a year in a charity shop and is gaining useful skills. Would she rather have a job that pays her a wage? of course, but paying jobs are very hard to find.
The (almost) 16 year old does not want to volunteer when she turns 16. ‘I don’t want to work with old people, I wouldn’t be any good at it’ – is her reason. ‘What would you rather do’? I asked……. she shrugged her shoulders and replied ‘hang out with my friends’. She is a social butterfly this one. Wants to dress nicely, wear make up, make herself look older than her (almost) 16 years and just hang out with friends. How she gets all the things she wants, is really not on her agenda, so long as she gets them.
Don’t get me wrong, if she is asked to do chores, she does them, with the usual begrudery that, I suppose, a lot of teenagers have but I do worry about her lack of ‘work ethic’. All those that went before her ‘worked’ This one wants to be an investigative journalist. She has the brains but does she have the motivation……. time will tell.
‘I don’t think I want to have babies’, she said. ‘I mean, you have to look after them EVERY DAY’ she exclaimed. I smiled, then I laughed. She is used to all the grandchildren coming around and see’s her older sisters’ lives of all the comings and goings. demands and needs of the children. The mundane drudge of boring housework and juggling of work of mothering and home making…… ‘ughhh – too much effort’. She sees them hardly ever going out and having ‘fun’ when all she wants is to go out and have fun. That of course, is her choice and it may change – one day.
‘You don’t just look after them EVERY DAY’ I said, ‘it goes on for years and years, until one day you have a stroppy 15 year old on the couch, with a face full of make up, in her super dry jeans,having just returned from a day out of celebrations, stuffing her face with chocolate, and looking forward to a long lie in because she is tired, not induced by working’! I finish. She throws her head back, laughs and says ‘Exactly’!
I watch my other daughters, with their children and see how loved and well cared for they are. I also see the stresses that they live through, day in day out, one way or another. I recognise their feelings and emotions of love and anxiety, of patience and impatience, of frustration and adoration of energy and exhaustion, of happiness and sadness, of tolerance and intolerance of many varying situations. The juggling of the physical stuff as well as the emotional stuff, its just not easy, some of the time and being a grown up can be hard. Sometimes you feel like you just want to get away or run away, if only for a day (or two) to recharge, re-energize, re evaluate and rejuvenate and then put all that renewed energy back into all the relationships associated with being a parent, a housewife, an employee, etc etc.
My girls are are strong independent women. Sure they have their moments and their hardships. They also have what I call ‘grit’. They have determination and they continue to put the effort into all that they do, but the most important thing 2 of them do, is be mothers, good mothers, to their children, the next generation. From early age, they did their chores, they were brought up with a firm but fair mother, who had certain expectations, and that included going out to work and being responsible, I think it paid off.
To my almost 16 year old, who just wants to have fun….. enjoy the next couple of months of freedom, because then it will be time to work, albeit, volunteering, with OLD PEOPLE because we have got to get you some skills!