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Parent24 chats to Karen
Karen Meyer shares the challenges she experienced as a teenaged mom.

Who is Karen?

I was very young when I had children; my first child was born when I was just 16-years-old. I found parenting changed my life completely and defined who I was for a decade and a half. Now, however, I am a grandmother and find that I am still young enough to really enjoy them. I teach mornings and au-pair afternoons so my days are filled with children, weekends and time off I like to socialise with what I call “adult time”. My kids are aged 23, 21 and 18.

What have you enjoyed most about being a parent so far?

The special moments when your child achieved something and knowing that somehow you were instrumental in that achievement. Saturday mornings when all 3 children  jump on your bed and give you lots of hugs and cuddles and when you hear the words  “I love you mommy” they seem to just melt your heart.

Are there any challenges you’ve found which have been particularly tough?

Yes, I was very young when I had my children, all my friends were out having teenage fun while I was at home changing nappies and being a mom. Eventually I lost touch with my friends and part of who I was. Also when my children became teenagers I found it particularly challenging.

What would you do over, if you had the chance?

I would probably try and pay more attention to their friendships, especially around their teenage years, as this is the time when their friends’ influence means more to them than their parents’.

Any tips you have for new parents, based on your own experiences?

Have conversations with your children more- listen to them, they often know more than you think. And when they are too quiet for too long, go and investigate, they are usually up to something.

If laughter is all that’s keeping you sane, what makes you smile?

Oh gosh I have so many stories, but I will just share the ones that will be stuck with me forever. On one occasion when my daughter was around 7-years-old, we were running late for an event and I tried to impress upon her the sense of urgency in getting ready. She fussed and took her time, eventually we were all ready to run out the door when I noticed she only had one shoe on, and was making puppet faces with her other sock. I said in a stern (probably yelled) voice “put your sock on your fewt! (I meant to say “foot”). Everyone burst out laughing and so did I. It was very hard to go back to ‘angry mommy’ mode after that.

On another occasion I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, while my kids were in their rooms playing. Suddenly my 9-year-old daughter shouted from the bedroom “hey mom I bet you don’t know what 8 plus 7 is” I shouted back “15”  she responded by saying “ok, then tell me what 23 plus 9 is” I answered, and every time she would respond with another “I bet you will never guess what…”
After about a half hour of similar questions I became curious as to what was going on and went to their room to investigate. I discovered that she was doing her math’s homework and I was unknowingly providing her with all the answers. (Sneaky, those 9-year-olds).

How do you think your kids would describe you?

Hopefully, “patient and understanding.”

What characterises a “good parent”, and would you call yourself one?

I like to think so, but I know there are a lot of things I could have done better. I think a good parent is one that always tries to do what they think is best for their kids, no matter what the outcome, if your intentions are good and it goes pear-shaped, it then becomes a learning experience.

Do you feel you have enough support?

Yes, when my children were younger I always had family around to help me. I remember my grandmother coming over to rub out my breasts with oil, because I had milk fever and had to express the excess milk. (It was quite a scene, not unlike milking a cow). I was lucky because my mom and grandmother were still very young and could be there for me when I needed them.

Your craziest parenting moment? Why not share it with us?

Probably the time I accosted my eldest daughter in the road. I was driving home early evening from the shops with my son, when I saw my 14-year-old daughter walking along the road with her boyfriend. She looked a little inebriated, so I stopped the car in the middle of the road (how no-one drove into me was a miracle) I jumped out of the car and told her to get in. She refused and a tousle ensued. Eventually I shouted “get in the F….ng car!” Forgetting that my 10-year-old son was still in the car at the time. Her boyfriend who knew I was not a person who swears, got a fright and said “I think you’d better get into the car”. She obliged, but then changed her mind as she was about to get in and another spate of pushing and shoving occurred. She was later grounded and sent to her room. When we arrived home, my son walked in the door and proudly proclaimed “daddy, daddy, I saw the violence!” The story doesn’t end there, because later that evening I went to talk to my daughter only to discover that she had unscrewed the burglar bars with the butter knife and escaped…

My children are now healthy functioning adults, both my girls have daughters of their own, and I hope that no matter what they remember that I tried my best as a parent. Sometimes I failed them, but mostly I love them with all my heart.

Follow Karen on Twitter and take a look at her other thoughts on her blog.

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