The transition of your baby-faced angelic son into a teenager can be a challenging time, especially when you've never had to deal with the hormones that can descend upon your home like a cyclone.
For novices (those who haven't dealt with three teenage sons), there are plenty of ways to tell when your son has reached puberty without having to carry out regular armpit inspections. Here's what they are:
1. You find that looking under their armpits is the last thing you want to do. The soft romantic fragrance of baby shampoo seems to have mutated into a stench that not even a mother can love. 'Go have a shower' becomes a normal greeting for your son.
2. You find yourself in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket desperately searching for the largest mouse trap you can find, because you're sure your pantry's being cleared out by the mouse/rat/sasquatch that lives in there.
3. You wake up one morning to the sound of your kids screaming and a thunderous male voice yelling at them, but before you have the chance to grab a cricket bat and dial '000', you realise that thunderous voice IS one of your kids.
4. You develop a very close relationship with the toilet bowl, floor and surrounds as you spend an enormous amount of time in there cleaning. Your son's sudden growth spurt means he's that much further away from the toilet, and if his aim was bad before, there ain't no chance it's getting any better now.
5. Hiding under a sheet in his room used to mean your son had built a fort to hide in while waiting for an imaginary dragon to slay. Now it means that it's 11am and he's got absolutely no intention of getting up anytime soon.
6. You go from one day wishing your angel would stop talking for just a second, so you can take a break from answering his never-ending questions, to having YOUR questions answered with just a grunt.
7. You search for another way to discipline your son, because the death stare just doesn't cut it when you're looking UP at him.
8. What used to be innocent play wrestling with his dad is still the same exciting experience for your son, however YOU find yourself standing by with a first aid kit, '000' on speed dial and a time out bell in case Dad should need it.
9. One morning you're sending your son back into the bathroom to try to make some sort of effort to comb his mop of hair, and the next he's walking out so perfectly coiffed that even Justin Bieber would be YouTubing the how-to instructions.
10. You're shocked by his hormone-fuelled tantrums, especially since despite what he's claiming, you're sure you buttered his toast properly.
11. You begin online grocery shopping with your son present because you develop an irrational fear of buying the wrong brand of deodorant (See point 10). That and there's no way you're carrying that huge load to the car (See point 2).
12. A large proportion of your grocery list is made up of male grooming products and you finally realise that wax can be used to style hair, not just remove it.
13. You start writing and blogging to make up for the conversation you're no longer getting at home and every 'Like' you receive is still more acknowledgement than you get from your sons every morning.
14. You still get your kisses and cuddles but his mood swings mean you'll never know when. And when you do, reality seeps in as you realise that he just doesn't cradle softly into your arms like a baby anymore.
But he'll always be YOUR baby.