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Life with you has been a bit of a roller coaster lately.
To put it bluntly, you are making my head spin
One moment my heart soars when you grab my hand on the way into the grocery store, the next you crush it by pushing my arm away.
Sometimes I am reminded of how small you are when you snuggle up to me on the couch to tell me about your day, while in a flash I watch you run out the door with your friends, looking like a gaggle of women about to go clubbing.
I realize some of the rumors about tween and teen girls aren’t true.
It’s not all bad, although I didn’t anticipate the tears that would flow when I asked if you could change your clothes to go out to dinner one night. Or the eye rolls that would accompany requests to clean your room. Or how the word “fine” does not, in fact, mean fine anymore, and instead has more of a middle-finger-like tone.
It’s not that I’m unsympathetic. I was a young girl once too.
They didn’t call us tweens back then when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but I remember the feeling of wishing to be treated like a grown-up while still having my mommy take care of me. I get it.
But it can’t go on this way. We are just starting this journey into the teen years, and we have to figure out a way to get through this time together.
I’m only human.
Because I know that puberty is racing at you like a freight train and perimenopause is most likely tapping on my shoulder, I thought we best set some expectations for the next few years, so we all make it out to the other side.
Accept that I will embarrass you.
Sometimes I might embarrass you because it’s just who I am. I may bust out the Running Man on the sidelines of your soccer game or wear my Top Gun t-shirt to pick you up at school. I will sing the lyrics to the Disney movies you used to make me watch a hundred times and will make you take first-day-of-school pictures until you get your doctorate.
Sometimes I might embarrass you because I am a big believer in boundaries. I might be the parent who needs to know who you are having out with or insists on your date coming into the house. I might be the only parent who says no. I might be the one that sometimes checks up on you.
And sometimes, I might embarrass you simply because I exist.
You can embrace it or hide from it, but it will happen. You come from a long line of embarrassing parents. Trust me, you will survive.
And we will need to talk about embarrassing stuff. Even though you don’t ask, I know you are hungry for information about love, sex, and impending body changes.
It may be uncomfortable and awkward, but we will get through it because I want you to have accurate information to make good decisions. It takes courage to try new things, but even more to know when you are not ready for something. I need you to be courageous.
I know you have big feelings right now, and I won’t always understand them.
I won’t minimize your feelings. While it is hard for me to grasp the reality that my asking you to take a shower could incite an emotional outburst, I know the suffering is real. I will try to take you seriously, regardless of how ridiculous I think you are behaving. I will listen instead of giving you my opinion. And I will choose my battles wisely, so when it’s important, you will know it.
I know you want your privacy, but trust is earned.
Trusting you to make good decisions is important to me, but I know you will make some mistakes. You have an internal tornado going on in that small body right now with raging hormones, a developing brain, and so many external forces pushing down on you like peer pressure, academic stress and fear about the outside world.
We can get through it if we work together.
But that doesn’t mean you get free rein. On some things I won’t negotiate. In our house, digital privacy is earned and we all live by the same tech rules. Phones stay downstairs at night, I may check your browsing habits, and social media is not a right.
You all have a good head on your shoulders, but the Internet, cell phones, and even the shows you watch can be dangerous places. We need to go there together at first.
I’m trying to learn to let you go a little more each day.
Oh, sweet girls, I know that you need your personal space during these teenage years.
It’s hard for me to comprehend that I am not the center of your world anymore, but I understand you need time and space to figure life out. I’ll try not to take your new independence personally. Just don’t slam the door, and we’ll be just fine.
I will (try) not to interfere. Your friendships are changing, and you are putting yourself out there more. I love that, but when you hurt, I hurt. When you suffer, my heart aches. It is difficult to quash the Mama Bear instinct to confront anything that threatens my young.
However, I will try to not get in the middle of your problems because I know you need to learn to do that on your own. I will always be there for you, however, even when I let you fall before raising you back up.
I’m your mother, not your friend, during these tough years.
You will not always like me during this time, and I have to accept that it’s part of the job.
It is hard when you are not given the same permission, the same privileges, the same access as other kids your age. It may not seem like it, but it is also hard to be the parent who says no when everyone else seems to be saying yes.
As an adolescent girl, you are playing checkers with your life—you’re making moves and choices at the moment. I’m playing chess, where I know each decision can change the trajectory of your life.
You may not like me today, but I hope you’ll respect me and my decisions later.
I will always believe in you.
I will think the best of you because we all deserve to have someone in our corner.
I will forgive you because we all deserve grace.
I will try not to take things personally because we all have tough times.
That and you’re not the only one facing hormonal changes.
We can do this. I got you.
An abridged version of this post originally appeared on Scary Mommy.