I have two amazing daughters. My oldest was born on a steaming hot July day. I blinked. Now she is 11. Sometimes I wonder how it is possible that my baby girl traded her bottle for a smart phone. Then I remember that the signs have been here for some time.
You know you have a tween daughter when…
1. You put on a pair of flip-flops to take out the garbage and they are too big. They are too big because they belong to your child. After you understand that your feet are smaller than your daughter’s, you put away the laundry that your husband has kindly folded. You kindly say ‘thanks’ until you see that he has put your daughter’s bra in your clothes pile, and your bra in your daughter’s pile. So even while your feet are smaller than your child’s and you feel like this is a good thing, unfortunately, your boobs are too.
2. You finally give your daughter a phone the summer before she goes to middle school. It feels like the right time and you hope that she will now stop reading texts over your shoulder, anxious for a peek into your world. Then, when you begin reading her texts over her shoulder, she is outraged. How could you “violate her privacy” in this way?
3. When your sweater is missing from your closet, you no longer assume that you forgot to pick it up from the dry cleaner. Instinctively, you go downstairs and find it balled up on the floor of your daughter’s closet—along with dozens of other shirts—discarded during that morning’s round of “I have nothing to wear.”
4. Feeling generous, you suggest to your daughter that she invite a friend for a play date. You feel generous until you see all the color drain from your daughter’s face as she explains that she does not have play dates. She may “hang out” with a friend but she will never “play” again. The look on her face suggests that you are someone who will never, ever understand her.
5. Suddenly, the child that woke with the sun rises long after you, and goes to bed after your eyes have shut for the day. This same girl is the one you strapped in to the red jogging stroller at 6:00 a.m. on summer mornings because by then she had been awake for an hour and was looking for some action. Now, you have to set her alarm to make sure she gets to school before the bell rings.
6. You write a blog post about your daughter’s changing body image and she swears, even after giving you permission to post it, that she will never speak to you if you write about her in the future. Then, a week later, she makes you promise that you will draft a blog post about her on her birthday. You decide not to tell her that it’s already written.
7. Your daughter rolls her eyes and begs you not to talk in front of her friends. Any word you say is a total embarrassment, even if it’s a topic you both laughed about earlier in the day. Then this same girl will curl up as small as her gangly legs will let her to crawl on your lap for a back rub and a hug.
Even with all of her maturity, sophistication and intolerance for everything you do, this same girl still needs her mom. You hug her tight because you love her more than you ever imagined.
‘Tween-ness’ and all.