When my daughters were all little, I dreaded adolescence. It seemed like all the comments I heard about tween and teen girls were negative, and the way some people put it, I was in for a dismal ride.
On top of this, there was the sentimental sap in me who wanted to mourn the childhood my daughters were slowly outgrowing. With every baby tooth that fell out of their mouths, every hair bow they refused to wear, every Barbie they stopped playing with, I wondered if we were drifting away from something vitally important.
An age of innocence we’d never re-capture again.
I’m not sure when it happened, but it hit me one day that maybe I was looking at my daughters’ growth the wrong way. That instead of mourning their changes, maybe I should celebrate them.
Because the truth is, there’s something special about every stage of growing up. And if I spend too much time looking back, thinking about the little girls in French hand-sewn dresses whose pictures I used to hand-tint, and whose food I used to cut, I miss the beautiful scenes playing out in front of me, scenes just as important their overall life stories as the childhoods fading away.
I want my daughters to grow up as slowly as possible, but I don’t want to stunt their growth. I don’t want to cling so tightly to who they were that I leave no room for who they’re meant to become.
My oldest daughters are now 12 and 10, so we’ve been in the tween scene a while. And while this stage of parenting certainly presents new and difficult challenges (hello, technology, push-back, and mood swings!), I’m also able to connect with my girls on a deeper level.
It’s fun and rewarding to catch glimpses of who they’re becoming. Because when you see your daughter baking a pound cake for her best friend….protecting her siblings…taking on a cause close to her heart…getting passionate about her hobbies….asking your adult friends how their children are doing with genuine interest….and showing other signs of maturity, it does something to your mother’s heart.
It makes you realize how the children sprouting up in front of you, gaining independence yet still emotionally attached to Mom and Dad, are people whose company you really enjoy, and who will continue to inspire you as they change, grow, and test their wings in the real world.
All this to say, there are perks to having a tween that no one mentioned to me. And when I open my eyes to these perks, I don’t long for the past, or dream about the future. I simply want to enjoy my daughters right here, right now, right where they are.
My top 10 favorite things about raising a girl in the tween years include:
#10: Having a front-seat passenger in my car — and someone to sing with me when the stereo gets cranked up.
#9: Hearing the joyful giggles of girls raise the ROOF in my home when friends come over because everything is hysterical to them.
#7: Soaking up my daughter’s natural beauty, and how she looks at this pivotal point while standing on the cusp of lip glass, mascara, and blush.
#6: Seeing my daughter’s eyes still full of wonder and her heart still full of hope. She knows a lot about the challenges ahead, but not enough to be scared or discouraged.
#5: Watching my girl light up when she sees a baby or smile as she squats to talk to a child at eye level, because she has a heart for babies and children.
#4: Having someone to watch chick flicks with me or go on late-night walks in the summer (because movies and Fitbits are awesome tools for mother/daughter bonding).
#3: Getting to snuggle in the dark as my daughter falls asleep because she’s still okay with that and doesn’t push me away completely.
#2: Having flashbacks to my teenage years and remembering how fun it is to be wacky with friends as you create your own brand of entertainment.
#1: Seeing my daughter blossom and feeling my heart burst with pride and gratitude because I’m on this journey with her, witnessing every detail of her transformation as she becomes a young adult.
Yes, there is a wonder and magic about childhood that’s hard for a mother to let go of. Sometimes when I watch old videos of my oldest daughter singing “Tomorrow” in her melodic toddler voice, or see clips of my second daughter running around in a diaper like a force of nature we couldn’t stop, it makes me want to cry.
But where we are now, beginning adolescence, is also a wonderland of memories being made. And when I embrace my daughters’ growth instead of fighting it, I can enjoy the present moments that are shaping them just as much – if not MORE SO – than the moments we’re leaving behind.
One day, my children and yours will change the world with the dreams God places on their hearts. Until then, we’re in on the secret of who He’s training them to be, and the work He’s preparing them to do. And while it isn’t always pretty, easy, or comfortable to journey alongside a tween or tween, it is a privilege.
Because with every step forward, we learn more about our children and ourselves. We learn how these kids who will change the world are already changing ours, and if we keep our hearts and eyes open, we’ll see the perks of every stage, and find new things to embrace that make motherhood richer and more meaningful the deeper into it that we get.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on September 13, 2015