A Little Distance

I don’t expect your thanks, but I want your respect. 

When you were on the cusp of hitting these teenage years, I read that your brain was going to change. I was in denial. I didn’t want to believe a word of it. Not my child, I smugly thought. My little girl, who is ever growing. My child who is thoughtful and thankful and who, I honestly feel, everyday, adores me. She thinks that I am funny and I know that because we laugh together – we catch each other’s eye and we get a bit hysterical. We don’t care that those around us don’t get it, all that matters to us is that we do. 

I don’t expect your thanks, but I want your respect.

It crept up on me. I was too relaxed, too content that we were ‘cool’ together. You didn’t want to seek me out in a room. You didn’t need to rest your gaze on me. Moments together became fleeting and tense. Every interaction became a possibility for a battle. Anger made you put up a defence, from where you hid, sharing your woes by text, escaping from them through snap chat.

I don’t expect your thanks, but I want your respect.

I tried to stay close by – within reach, where you had always been happy for me to be. Your coldness pushed me away. I eased forward like a pawn in a game of chess, one square at a time and like the queen you pushed passed me, taking my now fragile mummy ego with you and discarding it at your will. That hurt and stupidly, I let it show. 

I don’t expect your thanks, but I want your respect.

So, like a sailing boat forced by the wind, I changed my tack. I sailed away. Not too far: I dropped the anchor where I could see you and I moved with the waves. I reached occasional highs and I crashed back to the surface many times, but the anchor prevented me from drifting away and the curves of the boat’s hull meant I didn’t sink. I no longer sought your laughter. I no longer sought your thanks. I did things for you out of love. 

I don’t expect your thanks, but I want your respect.

Then one day, when I had sorted through your wardrobe – a job that you were intending to do, but the task had seemed too huge – you came home to that task complete and you said, ‘thank you’. I didn’t let you see me whoop for joy. You didn’t see me smile. You heard me reply with a nonchalant, ‘no problem’. I am happy with a little distance. I am quietly smug that I’ve worked us out.

I know I get your thanks and your respect and in return, you know that you get mine.


I’ve been shortlisted in the Best Writer category for the Mumsnet Blogging Awards! Please vote for me by clicking on the link below – it takes literally a millisecond. Thank you 🙂


30 thoughts on “A Little Distance”

  1. Seeing your children grow up is hard. Letting them be their own person and make their own mistakes is even harder. Wishing you luck and love 🙂

  2. It is tough getting the balance right sometimes isn’t it? One minute I am accused of being too nosy and then the next of not showing enough interest. As parents we do things everyday out of love and thanks and a nod of respect isn’t much to ask for in return. Well done for getting the balance right. #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. I’m not sure that I always get the balance right with them, but I am beginning to understand them a little better! I suppose that with 6 I have had and have plenty of practice, but even then it takes time, because they are just so different to us: their needs and outlook etc. and between all of them they are so different too. Thank you so much for your comments.

  3. I love this. It is written beautifully. I am dreading the teenage years, hopefully I will find my way as you have.

  4. This post made me get a bit teary-eyed. My children are only small, and I don’t like to imagine the struggles we’ll have when they’re teenagers. I admire how able you are to step aside despite your own feelings. #MarvMondays

  5. You never thank me for my lovely comments, Alison. I’m suitably affronted!
    BTW, are you going to turn your blogs into a book? If so, can you let me know as I don’t want my demonic daughter to stumble across it in a bookshop and think for a moment that I should be more understanding than I am not!

    1. Ha! I think she should be made aware of the thoughts of all these lovely readers who leave lovely comments about my posts – give her the link to my site! On second thoughts, she might be offended by my odd swear word here and there. Ah well, she’s stuck with your lovely point of view for now 🙂

  6. Voted 🙂 I have begun to seek your blog out on linkys as I love your light-hearted take on being a mum to teenagers. And then I read this – a beautifully poignant post on the very tricky relationship between mother and daughter – just lovely. I love your blog even more now (sorry for being a bit gushy!). Good luck with the award and also with the continued success with the new approach to the mum-daughter relationship. xx #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. I seem to have made a few people cry! Thank you for your comments. Don’t be scared though – they are all so different and quite often rewarding.

  7. Wah!!!!! This made me tearful. It’s a flash forward for me, I already see it in my daughter at 5, a potential for clash. Beautifully written and I’m really sorry that you lost the daughter you knew but she is still in there and once the hormone surge recedes, you’ll get that loving relationship back. Thanks for linking up with the #bigpinklink

  8. This is lovely. We’re well away from the teenage years at the moment but I know they’ll creep up on me before I know it. I’m glad you found a way through and I hope I will too when the time comes. #BigPinkLink

  9. Ah lovely post that must have felt amazing hearing those words of thanks. Treasure that. I think I must have been an awful teenager to my parents. I think you’re looking at it in the right way wanting her respect, which I hope that you’re getting. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  10. Congrats on the shortlist! I can see why you are, again this piece is written so well, with a 12 year old I will ate any advice I can get! #mg

Leave a Reply