Last night, I kissed my thirteen year old good night for the last time. She was prancing around the kitchen a little hyped up and edgy. It seemed that she was just as reluctant to tuck thirteen in as I was, a little afraid of what tomorrow would bring. Earlier in the evening, she mentioned that she feels “too old”. I asked her what she meant by that exactly. That’s what mother’s do. They probe when they aren’t quite sure. She couldn’t really explain it. So, I asked more questions. “Do you feel like you have too many responsibilities, too many privileges, too many life concerns?” “No, no, no…” she responded. She was unsure how to explain it, and that seems to be where we’ve been lately.
We’ve been uncertain about what the future holds. It’s as though we’ve been staring into something translucent. We have an idea of what lies ahead but the the details are fuzzy. I’ve never had a fourteen year old before and she’s never been fourteen. We keep looking at one another hoping that the other will have some profound insights that will act as guide. The visually impaired has been leading the visually impaired. Our only consolation has been our mutual uncertainty.
She’s never liked transitioning. Without fail, she mourns the past, regardless of what that past has been. I used to feel terribly about this, until I realized that the sixth grade she hated was the same sixth grade she missed with all of her heart once she got to seventh grade. New has always been a little difficult to embrace as she’s held tightly to what was.
Conventional wisdom or rumor has suggested it’s the parent who doesn’t want their baby to grow up, while the baby/child can’t wait for independence. Honestly, I think we both would have been very happy if she would’ve stayed twelve forever.
A week ago, I asked her if she’d come organize the pantry for me. Her response was, “Uh, I’m over here doing something else for you, Sister!” I laughed, it was true. Five minutes later, no exaggerating, she went into her room and asked her ten year old sister if she wanted to play dolls for a few minutes, until lunch was ready.
Perhaps that’s the best way to describe this ‘teen precipice’. One minute she’s all gentle sass and sarcasm, giving me glimpses of the quietly witty person she’s becoming. The next moment she’s in full, hesitant girl mode, wanting to be snuggled and reassured, while she’s trying to decide if she’s too old to dress up her American Girl in the new doll clothes that just arrived in the mail for her sister.
Soon, there will be more teen and less girl. It’s inevitable and right. I accept this (sort of). In the meantime, I will cherish every hug she asks for, every innocent question that reflects back at me in her crystal clear baby blues. I will try to hold loosely to her apron strings, loose enough to let the ties release, but not so loose as to let her slip away too quickly. It’s not entirely cliche, it really is my job to give her roots and wings. I expect that I will fumble both the root and the wing part on occasion. However, in the midst of all of our future unknowns, I also expect that she will know, with certainty, that I adore being her mom. I’ve enjoyed every stage so far, and will undoubtably relish all of the future persons she morphs into.
Happy Fourteenth Birthday, Baby Girl/Teen Sassy Pants! I couldn’t be more proud of you, or feel more privileged to call you MINE!