My eldest baby is 13. I am the mother of a teenager. In that terribly cliched and yet horribly true fashion, can I really believe that it is 13 years since I held my firstborn in my arms? But of course I can. There has been so much water under the bridge since then that you would need a fairly lengthy time to have passed just to fit it all in. I remember her arrival with a clarity reserved only for the special moments in my life. I can’t imagine a time when I won’t be able to picture that image in my mind’s eye. But of course thirteen years have passed otherwise how would she have got so tall and beautiful and poised and confident? That doesn’t happen overnight.

I think she enjoyed her birthday. She was up early, unheard of recently and was excited all day, a mood more reminiscent of a child than an adolescent. And of course she is a child. Notwithstanding the marking of an anniversary, she is still the same as she was before, on the cusp of something new but still not quite ready to take the step.

And what does it mean, this teenage label that she now has? Mainly it is the expectation of others that parenting her will suddenly become a nightmare. Well, there is nothing sudden about that. The older she, and the others, become the harder it gets. They have ideas of their own. It less likely for “No. Because I say so ” to be adequate response to any question. And the issues that arise become more and more significant for the future. They have greater ramifications,not only for her but also for how things go with her younger siblings who are watching us and making notes in the wings.

So she is now 13. I haven’t used it as a benchmark for anything so no particular privileges are attached to it. It was just a birthday like any other. But somehow, in my mind and hers, a corner has been turned. Another marker laid down. There’s no going back – but why would I want to? I am planning on sitting back and enjoying the ride.