I say MY, she isn’t actually mine, not in the maternal way anyway. Whilst I may technically be old enough to have a sixteen year old, I don’t. I do however have a newly turned sixteen year old step daughter. One about to embark on a long summer of freedom, before the grips of adulthood really kick in. Oh I remember it well, finishing that last exam was such a feeling. The few hours a week part time job was my only bind, the days were mine once again. Anyway this isn’t about me. Living with a teenager is interesting. You can feel so very rotten about yourself one minute than full of smug I know best pride the next. What is perhaps unexpected is the lessons that can be learnt from these young minds fumbling their way into adulthood.
I am not just talking practical lessons although the teen has taught me many of those. I now know how to contour. I know about highlighting and the three shape you should make. I know that there are some incredibly expensive make up brushes and anything less will not do. In fairness the recent makeover I received with said brushes was indeed like being licked by cats but I digress. What this obsession the teen has with make up has also taught me is that a vocation is not to be overlooked.
I was brought up in a very exam centred education system. Perhaps it was the post Thatcher era that was dictating the education system at the time. Together with the solid advance of Grandad Ted, to get your qualifications. I don’t mean to suggest this to be bad advance, I am the proud owner of lots of educational certificates and do believe they have and will stand me well. My Grandad did the same as a child, literally a child. Back in the early 40s when he left school, there was no proms, limos and summer jobs. He trained as an electrician before going off to drive lorries – driving being his real love. He did however fall back on his electrical qualifications in later life and ended up owning and running his own successful electrical company.
Despite knowing his story the message got lost somewhere for me. All I heard was obtain your qualifications, get that piece of paper, it is more important now than ever. I do believe that to be true but I am coming to realise that it is not all there is. I was lucky, I was studious and enjoyed school. For some pursuing a vocation is where they find their pleasure, the arts, music, writing, dance, make up, building, fashion, photography, whatever it may be. For some school and exams and their associated qualifications are box ticking exercise a means to an end they are legally required to check off their life list.
That is OK too.
By all means get your piece of paper saying you can satificatorily use a calculator under exam conditions but if applying make up, learning about it, styles, techniques and products is where you passion really lies, then don’t dismiss that. If you have a talent that lies outside of the books, nurture and pursue it. With the right attitude there is no where a vocation cannot take you. A labour of love is the dream we all chase.
Living with the long legged beauties also teaches you that ironically, it’s not all about the youth. Post children, in the early baby years I had a looming dark cloud over my head that I was ‘passed my best’, which is quite frankly ridiculous, yet the hormones and baby fog can do crazy things to you.
Make up application fell by the wayside, tossed somewhere with my dignity and my wardrobe became about comfort, hello leggings! My days were about getting from sun up to sun down and then sun down to sun up. They were 24 hours and they were largely about survival.
As the time has gone by watching this teenage beauty flourish, find passions in a lot of things I used to love as a teen myself. As she has developed a social circle, friends, an actual social life. Even as she sat those gruelling exams I could see parts of my youth in her. Parts of who I was before I had children.
Someone who liked to fiddle around painting their face, admittedly I learnt from Girl Talk not Zoella, I like to follow trends and experiment with new products. I liked to go to dinner and drinks with friends, after spending too long in front of mirror, in over sized heals. I liked to exercise, read books, utilise my brain and read fashion mags and Ideal Home.
My point, I am not too old to peruse the isles of Mac or Topshop. To do things I want to do, it is not all always about the children. If I want to wear that pink pleated skirt that on me, doesn’t look like it did on the model then so be it. I shouldn’t be ashamed or worried I am ‘too old’ or ‘a mum’. I shouldn’t worry that others may judge me or my interests. I should indulge in them just the way you do.
So my lovely teen, this ones for you, thanks for those unbeknownst life lessons, and by the way, you looked gorgeous at your prom.