The child grows and a little hand slips away

There are some words of advice I wish I had listened to earlier. Save your pennies. Having a baby changes your life. Don't go on things that spin.

One of them I am just starting to realise now is that you should cherish the time when your child is between seven and 12 years old.

My child turned 13 this year. How bad could it be?, I wondered.

My life now is reminiscent of the days just after she was born. I wander the supermarket bewildered and aimless, staring into the empty eyes of other first-time parents of teenagers, looking sadly at smiling toddlers doing cute things.

Facebook tortures me with daily flashbacks - my girl at three years old, chubby and gorgeous, happy, happy, happy. My girl at eight, her arm around her cousin, grinning widely. My girl at 12, owning the world.

I look up from Facebook world to my girl at 13, head bowed over her phone, still wearing her pyjamas at two in the afternoon. It feels like I haven't seen her smile since she was 12.

I've been called a "poo" three times recently, a fun-killer twice and been asked why I hate her so much.

I can remember not so long ago when the hand around that phone was a little smaller and crept into mine during a sad bit at the movies. Now, she wouldn't go to a movie with me unless there is absolutely zero chance anyone she knows will see us there.

I have never been more uncool in my life - and that's a big call.

I remember those days when your parents seemed like a different species. We didn't have Snapchat. We didn't have secret channels where you could share your particular brand of teenage angst and get heaven knows what response in return, from heaven knows who.

Everyone heard our conversations on the family phone in the kitchen.

I do not know whether to worry and, if so, how much. She tells me I worry too much. In the next breath, she tells me she hates school, doesn't get to see her friends and needs to buy something expensive to return to a fulfilling life.

I take a deep breath. I seem to be doing that a lot these days.

As I drop her off at school she leisurely makes her way out of the car, then takes off at a pace.

"See ya, Mum," she yells. "Love you!". Then disappears into the crowd.

I guess I can wait just a little bit longer for that little hand to find mine again.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist