Loving Your Daughter Through the Preteen Years

3 years ago

And then she said: Mom, I need a bra.

A bra? For what? It was not yet time to worry about such womanly things.

I pointed out that I didn’t get my first training bra until fourth grade. Suddenly it occurred to me what grade she was in now.

I looked into her eyes. And then I told her to scoot over. I clearly needed to sit down.

I had noticed that my daughter was changing. Her emotions, reactions and interests, all transforming into something entirely new. Gone was my sweet, good-natured baby.

I wasn’t ready though. I had always told myself that I would be ready.

I don’t know about your daughters, but with mine the changes seemed to happen overnight.

It’s like one day she got out of bed determined to roll her eyes every time I opened my mouth. That was new. Oddly enough it didn’t bother me like I thought it would. Instead, I observed her like one would watch an animal in the wild.

I believe that the mother/daughter relationship is the most difficult one on the planet. I have always had that in the back of my mind. Braced for impact. I remember rolling my eyes at my mother. It was a right of passage. Maybe it is the humorous filter that I seem to observe the world though, but I couldn’t get mad at her for that. Had she practiced in the mirror to see just how silly she looked?

Another thing I noticed was her new inability to state a simple sentence. Gone were the days
of her just telling me something. Now every word out of her mouth seemed to be projected with such spirited importance. As though every word was urgent.

What once was, “Mom, have you seen my socks?” somehow became, “MOM! WHAT DID YOU DO WITH MY FAVORITE SOCKS? DID YOU EVEN WASH THEM? ARE YOU TRYING TO RUIN MY LIFE?”

And as you suspect the caps are there to suggest that her request for socks was shouted at me, with the “you must hate me” tone.

Her new favorite word is “whatever.” She instinctually responds to everything I say with this word. Then after I give her my best mom-look, she hits me a barely audible “sorry” in an effort to not experience any blowback.

It’s like she has lost her filter. She cannot control her words. For years I prompted her to use her words. Now I would like to remove that one from her vocabulary.

I work hard on something, anything really, and she breezes through the room just long enough to throw a “Really, Mom?” dagger my way. As though me thinking that I had done something well was so wrong.

She has become emotional. And there is nothing wrong with showing emotions. I think it is very important to express how you feel to others. But there are no emotions like those of a preteen girl. Except maybe those of a teenage girl.

I shudder to think.

At any given moment, my daughter is either elated, devastated, furious, or asleep. There is no in between. And the shift from one to the other can happen in seconds.

You really have to pay attention to stay prepared for what is about to be hurled your way.

She is beginning her journey into womanhood. She will learn with time how to harness the power that comes with the job. It is not easy being a woman.

I love her so much. I wish I could sit her down and fill her with all of the knowledge that I have learned along the way. Save her from leaning everything the hard way. If only she would be receptive and believe me when I say: Trust me. I can help you.

But that is not going to happen. I thought my mother was an idiot. Until I became a woman. Somewhere around 23. Then I realized she wasn’t so dumb after all.

I know the next few years will be very trying, for me and or her.

But even with her evolving personality, I watch her with such pride. I see myself in her in some ways. Her adorable habit of talking with her hands? That is all me. She learned that from watching me. And that is how I have to help her on her journey into womanhood. I have to be the example.

Just when I think she is no longer watching, she will be watching.

When you have a daughter you have to expect that there will be rough times. Being a mother means loving them through those hard times. When she is making me want to pull my hair out, I will think back to that sweet baby with chubby cheeks and dimples.

If it gets to be unbearable some days, I will remember how she used to hold her baby arms out and grunt for me to pick her up.

If there are days when I am reduced to tears because I don’t know what else to do, I will remember the first time my toddler girl gave me an unsolicited “I love you.”

Then I will look forward to the amazing woman she is going to be one day. I want the world for her. I want all of her dreams to come true.

Her spirit is beautiful and her light is so bright. As long as I can look into her eyes and see that I had anything to do with that, it will be worth it all.

I love you, Gracie. One day maybe you will be a mother. And then you will know just how much.

We got this.



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