My 12-year old daughter and I are very close. She is precious and innocent and truly a light in this world. She is honest, and respectful, and committed to her grades and her love for being on the swim team. She is as adorable as she is goofy in all the fun ways, and she loves to laugh with me when we get our groove on together! She always wants to spend time with me. Actually, I think I might be her favorite person in the entire world. Yeah. She’s mine too.
She gets excited over little things, and delights in my praise and attention. She shares everything with me…everything. She tells me all about her angst, her worries, her anger at certain students for their behavior, and her thoughts on pretty much everything in her life. She always asks my advice, and honors my authority and my experience. She looks up to me and so desperately wants to make me proud, as she takes her strong steps toward individuality. She has integrity I never had at her age. She has confidence in who she is at the ground level… the rest will grow from there. When she’s upset about things, she tells me, and we talk, and she feels comforted by my hugs and words of encouragement. When I am angry at her, she hugs me and apologizes for her wrongdoings. This kid makes good decisions every day. She is growing up, all right. She is standing up for what she believes in, and she is sticking to her moral high ground that she built herself. She is polite and has impeccable manners, as she treats all people with respect and sweetness. Of course she’s not perfect, that’s not the point of all this praise. I’m simply saying that she’s pretty amazing.
This isn’t just a mama’s love.
She’s freaking awesome.
Now, here’s where I would get uncomfortable with those parents of older kids. Perhaps the ones who have struggled with their tweens or teens once they got into middle school or older. Honestly, I would never boast about my kid to this extreme to anyone but her father, but when I do share some good stuff, I immediately feel the need to follow my praise by eluding to that all too common warning:
“Just you wait… it’s all going to change.”
You know that one, don’t you? The threat that every mom of little kids seems to receive…
“Just you wait until they are older… they won’t be that lovable!”
“Oh, I remember when my kid was innocent and sweet like that… just you wait!”
“Oh these are the easy years! Just wait until she is hormonal!”
“You may love her now, but just wait until she drives you CRAZY when she turns ____”
“Enjoy it now, because those teen years are brutal!”
“Yeah, my girl used to be such a wonderful love too (sigh). Things change. Just you wait…it’s coming. You’re girl is gonna change.”
You get the point.
So I pull back my adoration for my girl, just as soon as I spill it out… because I know it never seems realistic to anyone, that my daughter is so- pleasant, and God forbid I think she might stay that way.
When we snuggle up together every night, we sometimes talk about her experience (or mine) in learning about the shifting culture of school, experiences with other kids her age, and the difficult dynamics of growing older. We share our common ground on pretty much everything.
I always seem to close up the conversation with, “I hope you never change, sweetie.”
And she always adamantly confirms, “Mom, I won’t ever change!”
Now see? I’m feeling the buzz start, the shudders from shoulders all across the land of parents with older girls. I just know you are all shaking your heads with that “Just you wait” eye roll.
But what if she actually doesn’t change? What if she remains obedient, honest, responsible, kind, and loving? What if?
I remember so many seasons of motherhood, where I felt the need to obey the command of the pressures of parenting. I was so insecure and completely not confident in my own choices, so I huddled under the directives of those wise ‘experts’ and fell crumbling to the ground often in a fit of failure. I tried. Oh, how I tried to live up to the expectations that surrounded my every mom move. But instead, there were times I felt lost and alone in my own shaky decisions.
I won’t allow other people’s steps ahead of mine to dictate my own path of parenting. Not anymore. I have fallen into this trap far too many times and realize that I am writing my own parenting story, and guess what?
The next few chapters might just surprise all the naysayers. It may even be the BEST part of my own parenting book. My girl may never change in those ways people warn me about. Maybe she will. But I believe in her, and I will NOT heed the warnings with despair and discouragement. I won’t feel like I’m naïve to say how much I can’t wait to see her mature. I’m not going to think I am clueless when I have every confidence that my girl will still be my favorite person in the world…
Even (gasp) when she’s a teen.