My oldest child is a pre-teen. That sentence alone is enough to induce panic in me. In just the last two years she has gone from this:
She is just so beautiful. She doesn't see it. She really dislikes me taking her picture. Sometimes she catches me staring at her. She gets upset when she does. She is getting so slim. I've been having to buy her new jeans for the first time in three years because her old ones are too big. She got boys after her like crazy and unfortunately learning how mean an envious girl can be. She's also learning the value of true friendship. I feel this is the most difficult age to parent. Everything is such a gray area. I never know when it's OK to cuddle her or not. Sometimes she's really receptive to affection. When she's not, the way she jerks away so fast, as if I am contagious, really hurts. She has always been such a fun, silly girl. I like to be silly with her. That is also a sensitive area. Usually my jokes and sarcasm are received as just that, others it is considered an insult of some sort and tears or angers follows. She wants more privacy, but is still too immature for as much as she requests. She helps me out so much with her siblings and around the house, but won't do much without my asking first. She has the normal teenage angst. I know it is a phase that will pass, probably all too soon. It is exciting seeing her transform into a young lady. Seeing how talented she is, hearing her praise by others fills my soul with pride. She is extraordinary. I am overcome with love for her. Everything about her that makes raising her at this age difficult is compounded when seeing interactions with her peers. Hearing about her disagreements with her friends is tough. When girls get vicious it is intensely difficult to remain an adult and not flip out! I feel a much greater need to protect now. Not that I haven't always been protective, but I remember being a teenage girl. I can still recall certain girls that turned on me and tried to make others follow suit. When I see a post on social media saying negative remarks about my daughter I am taken back to that feeling from my childhood. I have to fight to refrain from getting snarky. I read often about teens being bullied and taking their own life, or snapping and hurting others. I'll be damned if that's one of my babies. Not if I can help it. It's even worse when she feels an injustice by an adult. That really ignites a fire in me. I have learned to go straight to the source and hear out both sides. Even the times the adult is justified my heart still aches for my daughter because of how the situation affected her. Remember those boys I mentioned earlier? That's another conundrum I am not ready for. She's had boys claim her since she was three years old. I've never been a fan, but now that hormones are involved it causes anxiety for me. On the one hand, I love seeing her face light up when she shows me a note from her boyfriend. I am grateful that she confides in me and actually shows me the messages. I dread heart break. I know it will happen one day. It sucks to see your baby hurt and not be able to fix it. I hate the thoughts. Trying to properly parent her rather than be her friend usually makes her mad at me. It's difficult. I love her so much. I pray that once we get through these years she will still love me, and call. I want us to be close. I want to be liked, but I want her to be a productive member of society with good morals and self respect more. I know once she is grown, has a child of her own and experiences the overwhelming love parents have she will understand. Hopefully then it will click and she will come back to me if things get strained between us. Until then I will do my best to give her as much love as she needs the way she needs it and pray.