You know how we hear all the time when our kids are little that it’s going to be okay? Did you mess up and yell at them? Have a hard day? Literally accidentally step on their foot or cut off the tip of their finger in a door slamming incident? (That’s a story for another day.) No worries Momma! You got this! They still adore you and you have left no permanent damage or mental scarring.
You simply sit down with them, you apologize for whatever way your Momma skills failed that day, and they stare up at you with open, doe eyed adoration. Then they say…”You are the best Momma in the whole world.” And everyone laughs and cheers and life is perfect once again.
Now I don’t know that I can pinpoint the exact moment you become dethroned. Just know it happens. And no one prepared you for this. I mean, sure, you knew that they would stop hugging you in front of other kids at school, and you knew your purpose in raising them was to make them independent and happy one day, but the day they stop needing you sneaks up so fast, and you don’t even notice. Until the moment it hurts, like this stabbing in your chest, tightness in your throat, pain.
For me, it hit when I was looking at a photo of her as a toddler, and remembering that for years I was her whole world. She couldn’t wait to see me, to tell me things. She would run into my arms like she would never get enough of my embrace. I was her everything. All of the sudden in an instant I am mourning the loss of someone I didn’t even notice had disappeared.
If I yell at her now over something silly, not only do apologies get me nothing but slanted eyes and crossed arms, but now I’m doing permanent damage. People don’t say “No worries, she will love you anyway” after they cross that 10 year mark. It starts to have these lifetime sorts of consequences. Like the fact that now, I am her example for how to interact with people when she is upset…and she might emulate my mini loss of emotion (temper tantrum) to her detriment. Jeez louise that’s a heavy load to carry.
And on top of that, I may be severely damaging our relationship for years to come…on multiple levels. Not just when I lose my cool, but in how I respond when she opens up to me about anything. If I say, or do something that makes her feel unsupported or misunderstood, research says she’ll stop telling me the good bits. CRAP TIDDLY!!! As if the pressure to prepare for her impending monthly bleeds isn’t enough!!! My goodness!!!
Did you ever hear that phrase “If you don’t listen to them now, they won’t tell you when they’re older?” It’s not that I didn’t believe it, but we get so easily distracted. There is a million things in a day when they are that young, and it’s so easy to just listen and nod, but I beg you…DON’T DO THAT! Its so true, I nodded for years, and I thought they believed I was listening…I tried. But, now it’s like pulling teeth to get her to share, which makes the aforementioned responses that much more important.
In case you can’t tell, I am more than a little past my comfort zone here. And I think and I hope I am doing a good job. But, if I have learned anything from having friends that barely speak to their parents, it’s that there are plenty of Mothers (and Fathers) out there that really do screw up, and being aware of the possibility will hopefully help keep it from happening to me.
This month I am making TWEEN GOALS for my mamma style and they are as follows:
- Listen and hear—and then write it down. And then check in 2 days later: If she opens up to me, and asks me for advice I am going to give and then research and then ask around and then bring it up again, ask her how it’s going and share my new wealth of knowledge on the subject. Hopefully she will see how much I love her, without being annoyed.
- Say Yes: I often forget that she is capable of doing things on her own. That when she asks to make, for example, Slime, she no longer needs me checking over her shoulder. She can read instructions; she is capable of making good decisions. Just let her make the slime!
- Let her have a voice and her own opinion: Now this one I am bad at, which is why it’s on my list. It’s important for her to grow into her own voice, not just an echo of mine. It’s hard because 10 year olds sometimes sound stupid (SHH, don’t tell anyone I said that) and I want to correct her, or fix her…I need to let it be.
Do you have a 10-12 year daughter, or did you? Did you survive? I would love to know if there is a secret to making your daughter still be your friend at the end of all of this.
Well here goes! Wish us Mammas of tween girls luck and tip your wine glass to the computer (If you must grab a glass first, do that now). TO PUBERTY AND GROWING UP!!! (Which also apparently means singing lots of T-swift and Demi Lovato songs with headphones in…she sounds amazing singing everything 3 words, with random sounds thrown in when she doesn’t know the words).