Messy Mamahood

April 26, 2010

My princess, the pre-teen

My 12-year-old daughter, Keile, and I have always been very close. She has some wonderful qualities I really admire. One thing I've always cherished about her is her tender heart for young children, animals and those less fortunate than her. She's also extremely loyal, deeply sensitive, dependable, generous, encouraging, funny and very loving. She has always written me little notes of her love for me. I treasure these. And I love the fact that she, to this day, says she's going to live with me forever. She has our future together all planned out.

As she's starting to enter her teen years, I've explained to her that our relationship will go through a lot of strain as she's trying to find herself and assert her independence. I've told her that there may be times when she feels like she hates me, but that I will always love her and be there for her, no matter what. I want her to be prepared when those feelings start hitting her. She replies, "I could never hate you, Mommy."

I hope she's right because I'm not ready for that. Even though I know it's just a stage teenagers go through, the thought of my sweet princess becoming someone I don't recognize frightens me. Already, she's gone from talking to me about everything to shutting down completely when I try to talk to her about puberty and the changes her body's about to go through. She vehemently wants nothing to do with these conversations.

On the other hand, her friends talk to me a lot about the changes they're going through, and especially about boys. Keile just looks mortified when they bring up these topics. I know she's not interested in boys yet. I know why. And I know why she doesn't want to talk about any of this. My little girl is simply not ready to grow up. She's not ready to leave her childhood behind. She revels in being my princess and doesn't want to lose that.

I remember when Blane was a baby, Keile came to me in tears one day and said, "Mommy, I miss being a baby." Why? I asked her. "Because I was so little and cute, and I could cuddle up in your arms while you rocked me." I immediately took her in my arms and started rocking her. "You'll always be my baby girl," I whispered in her ear.

So, as frustrating as it may be when our teens start shutting us out, we have to remember that (whether they admit it or not) they're afraid, too. They're afraid of losing their childhoods, much like we're afraid of losing our youth when we turn 30, 40, 50, etc. And they're terrified of losing their place in our hearts as that little girl or boy we treasure so much. Our job is to make sure that never happens. To ensure they know we'll always see them that way. The best things we can do are continue to treasure them, support them, encourage them, hug them, tell them we love them and thank God for them each day.

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