I don't know about you, but when I was a teenager, there was always a kid or two in my social circle that had a "cool mum". You know, the mum who had everyone over for pool parties, talked to you about which boys you liked, and didn't give you a hard time like your boring old folks did.
When I had kids, I always thought I'd be that mum. Not because I care if a bunch of random teenagers think I'm cool – what a fragile existence that would be! – but because I knew those were the parents who really knew their kids and what was going on in their lives.
I envisaged a bustling, busy home where friends would come and go, I'd be a part of conversations – or at least overhear them – about what was really going on with my kids, and it would put me in a position to understand them and their needs. And I'd know exactly where they were and who they were with.
But now, as my eldest child nears his sixteenth birthday, I realise that not only am I definitely not that mum, but I have no interest in being her either.
The thing is, life is busy. My 16-year-old is not the only child in my house – we have three more, all younger and more hands-on and needy – and I also like to think I have my own life going on too. And with the little spare time I have between parenting and working, the last thing I feel like doing is talking rubbish with a bunch of teenagers.
My son had some friends over recently, and honestly, their snippets of conversation I heard made me want to cry with despair. It's not that they're awful kids – in fact, I think my son has beautiful friends – it's just that teenagers are incredibly self-involved and, well, boring.
I think back now to those parents who used to hang out with us and speak to us at our level and think: what was wrong with you? Either they had had a total lobotomy or they were making the ultimate sacrifice of having boring conversation after boring conversation and sacrificing their own spare time purely in the best interests of their child.
All of which is a wonderful display of parenting commitment, but I've realised it's not for me. When I have spare time, I want to spend time with my partner, see my friends, or do something just for me.
And I'm sure my son appreciates the opportunity to hang out with his friends without his mum snooping nearby as well.
I still maintain a decent amount of discipline – I know where my son is (or at least where he tells me he is) and what time he'll be home. If he's sleeping over at someone else's house, I call their parents and have a conversation about what's going on over there and the level of supervision that will be going on.
But ultimately, if my son wants to get into some trouble, he will. At some point I have to have faith in the parenting I've done up to this point, and hope I've instilled some solid values and boundaries in him that will help him to make good decisions.
The fact is, I don't want to know everything that's going on in my son's life. I want him to take ownership and find his own way, because that's the only way he'll be able to successfully transition into adulthood.
And it's the only way I'll get some peace and quiet in my house.