This weekend I quietly changed my profile. I am now not just the mother of five "from toddler to tween." Now I'm the mother of toddler to TEEN.
That's right, our oldest daughter turned 13 last week.
This is the child that came out at birth with her hands in tight fists and announced to me, “WAH.” This, of course, meant, “Buckle your seatbelt. I am going to challenge you on everything.” It all started with her utter refusal to nap as a baby, was made dramatic when she acquired the vocabulary of a trial attorney at age two, and continues to this day when she dares to ask tough questions on moral and theological issues as a teen. She is athletic and funny. This girl was born to lead.
Through it all, I am so glad she is who she is. This child has sharpened me in a way I could never have imagined. She’s made me think about the “why” of things I take for granted.
In between the challenges, every now and then I get to see little glimmers of the woman she is becoming. I see it when she’s taking care of her two-year-old sister. She is completely devoted to her, dependable and responsible. I see it when she hugs me in front of her friends or kisses me goodbye in the carpool lane. I see it when she occasionally asks forgiveness, without any prompting. I see it when I’ve held my ground on something (the topic is usually irrelevant). After a time, she eventually comes around. We laugh and hug and she tells me, “Hey! We didn’t kill each other!”
My husband took her out for her first date last night. I mean a real date - suit, nice dress, the works - to a fancy restaurant. He even got the car completely cleaned out (and found that debit card I lost last year!), washed and waxed. After a small family party with a few presents here, they got dressed up (so glad she got another wearing out of that dress!), he opened her door for her, and off they went. While they were out, and he was treating her like a true lady, he gave her a True Love Waits ring.
I'm still not quite sure what to think about being the mom of a teenager. In many ways, she seems so much more grown up than I was at that age. And yet she's still my little girl. I lived in dread of this time when the kids were little -- I guess that fear of the unknown -- but now that I'm in the thick of it, I'm enjoying her so much (that is, when the sparks are not flying between us!) I find myself wanting to hold onto this special time.
All I know is that this is one precious girl.