My oldest daughter is closer to 9 years old than she is to 8. As I type these words my heart hurts and my eyes tear up. She is changing. I have read about the pre-teen girl, I would like to say that I am excited to watch her grow and mature, but that would be a lie. She is the one who made me a mother and I want her to stay my baby forever.
I have two other daughters, one is 5 and one is 2. The beauty of these staggered ages is that as I am watching one finish a stage, usually another one is starting it. A few weeks ago my oldest didn’t want me to hold her hand in a busy crowd, meanwhile, my 5-year-old had a death grip on the tail of my sweater while I was carrying the youngest in my arms. It was an amazing illustration of the kind of mother each of them needs me to be right now.
My sweet middle daughter struggles to go to school each day. Every morning she tells me how much she will miss me, begs me not to make her leave. We even wear best friend necklaces, it is a heart that is broken in two colorful pieces. When I went to pick out the necklaces, I saw one that was in three parts and I thought how fun it would be to share this necklace with my two oldest daughters and myself. I knew in an instant that my oldest daughter would not wear the necklace, she is growing up and no longer needs a piece of me to go with her. My middle daughter will not leave the house without this accessory, and I treasure this because I can see the future and she will not need this necklace for long.
My alarm is set for 6:15am, however, every morning my youngest comes into my room at 6:00am. If my firstborn had done this, I would have re-read the sleep training books and figured out how to keep her in her bed until the assigned time. Now, with my youngest and last baby, I look forward to the early wake-up call. Sometimes if I lay in bed and can’t sleep, I think about how good it will feel to have that sweet girl come in and try to climb into my bed then lay next to me and touch my cheeks with her little hands. I will not attempt to fix this, I will embrace and enjoy it, it will end before I am ready.
After school, there is the hustle and bustle of backpack unpacking, homework, and snack. I ask a million questions about their day. My kindergartner could talk for ages about each classmate, she excitedly does her homework on the counter and craves to just be near me. My third grader has begun to answer my questions with one word and can’t wait to bury herself in a book. As my middle daughter chats up a storm, I watch my oldest quietly sit on the couch and travel off to Hogwarts, I miss her, I want to travel with her, I want to see what she sees. I am trying so hard to hold tight to her and slowly let go.
As she is growing I will watch the other two, who will be right on her heels. These three girls are going full speed ahead, I get to see all the stages – three times over. My prayer is as they grow, as my relationship with each of them shifts from how a baby needs her mommy to how a young woman needs her mother, I will be there, I will watch them grow, I will cheer them on. I will try to hold on so tightly while also letting go. And as my daughter’s best friend necklace sits on her shelf gathering dust, I might still need to wear mine.
Tearing up as I read this. My daughters are 12 and 14 and I love watching them grow into beautiful young ladies, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be on me as they gain more and more independence. I know they still need me but sometimes I’m not ready to let each stage end!
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