I recently found a photo of me from eighth grade. There I was in the height of my awesomeness with my Swatch watch, Guess jeans and teased bangs full of Aquanet.
It makes me wonder, where did that girl go?
How did she turn into the mom of two eighth graders who constantly questions why they like certain songs or eat certain foods or wear certain clothes? How does she wonder why her 14-year-olds’ sleep in until 10 am and leave their room a mess and only want to talk to their friends for hours upon hours upon hours? When did she forget what it was like to be wild (sort of) and care free and with the whole world at your fingertips?
Where did that girl go?
I’m pretty sure she came out for a bit when I danced with my three daughters in the kitchen to Usher and JT. She made an appearance when we went for that long summer bike ride for ice cream and binge-watched 80s movies one weekend. She visited during the holidays when I shared our family cookie recipe and taught my girls how to make my mother’s biscuits.
Yet when I need that girl the most, when I am frustrated and irritated and at the end of my rope with my teenagers– it feels like that girl is a distant memory.
But seeing that picture of my eighth grade self in all her teenage glory, helped me to see that she needs to hang around a little bit more.
She’s where I’ll find the compassion my daughters will need from me when they make mistakes, because Lord knows the girl in that photo sure made a few.
She will help me remember what it’s like to feel excluded and left out while desperately trying to find her identity.
She’s the reminder of what a young girl can become when two parents shower love on their child and fill her life with encouragement and demonstrate acts of kindness.
She is everything I was and the start of what I would become.
She is my past, but part of her is still inside me and will shape my daughters’ futures.
I’m thankful I ran into my eighth grade self today.
I think my girls will be pretty happy, too.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
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