Look at my beautiful girl. A beautiful young lady. This picture was taken at her winter formal dance in February. Just a couple of months before this big day... the day she becomes a teenager.
I thought I would dread this day. In fact, for years, I have dreaded this day. Because the minute you pop out a child in to the world the words "just wait until she's a teenager" haunts you every were you go.
When she refused to eat certain foods as a baby.. "just wait until she's a teenager". When she threw temper tantrums as a toddler... "just wait until she's a teenager". When she's upset about a bad day at school in early elementary... "just wait until she's a teenager". And, as she gets in to upper elementary and wants to go spend the night at friend's houses... "just wait until she's a teenager".
And now the day has arrived.
You know what? I'm not that scared about it. Not any more.
Yeah, now she's a teenager... and I expect some things to change a little. However, she's already moved in to the teenager phase of walking around everywhere she goes with earphones in her ears blocking out the world around her. She has her cell phone permanently attached to her fingers and sends out and receives thousands of text messages a month. She has "boy issues". She spends most evenings locked up in her room listening to her music and talking to her friends.
But, you know what? I know what music she's listening to. I know who she's sending those text messages to and who they are coming from. I know all about her boy issues. And I know that when she's locked up in her room, she's winding down from her day and enjoys some peace and quiet. I know all of that because I still have one very special factor in all of this - she talks to me. About everything.
I am so proud of the young lady that my daughter has become. She in my mini me in many ways. School is important to her - in more ways than just getting to see her friends. She makes good grades... no, amazing grades. She's in the gifted program. She's in band. She can sing... and I mean, really sing. All wonderful traits that I can take a little credit for... because I did the same things and have encouraged those things on her, just a little.
However, she is so much more. And so much her own person.
She makes me feel like an important part of her life. She shares her day with me. She shares her troubles. She asks my advice about friends and boys and school stuff. She likes to try new things like volleyball and basketball and track. We both found out that she is pretty athletically inclined... doing well in both volleyball and currently in track. She doesn't mind bringing her friends around me.
She is an amazing big sister. She takes care of her little sister. She bathes her, gets out her clothes every morning, and washes her clothes. She washes dishes when it's her night without a grumble or being asked to do it. She has gone above and beyond her duty of just being a good kid... she's my back up, and I know that she's there to do whatever I need her to do without an argument or fight.
All of those things are her own. When I was her age I hardly ever spoke to my mom about stuff and I fought tooth and nail about having to take care of my younger siblings. Yeah, I can admit that now. I didn't think it was fair... and she probably doesn't either. Yet the difference between her and I is that she doesn't make a big deal about it...she just does it. I huffed and puffed and sulked around my house growing up more times than I care to admit.
During the harsh times of my going to college, she took on duties that she didn't have to take on.. stuff she shouldn't have had to take on. But she did. And I promised her that eventually, her hard work and understanding during our trying times would pay off. That's why I've done everything in my power to make sure she gets to enjoy the activities she wants to do.
I'll stay at school until 6pm every night so that she can participate in band and sports. I'll volunteer to chaperon dances and weekend field trips so that she can go. I'll make arrangements for her to spend the night at a friend's house on nights she's going to track meets and won't be home until late at night... because her meets are a couple of hours away from where we live. Not because I don't want to be there, but I can't when Hubby has to leave for work at 10pm and it wouldn't be fair to keep the other two awake that late in order for Peanut to go. If she wants to spend the night with a friend on the weekend - she goes. (As long as I know with who and have spoken to parents) If she wants to go out for a day of shopping with me - alone - we go.
Butter and Jelly don't get it most of the time. More Butter than Jelly. He has a hard time understanding why she gets to do so much.... but he doesn't understand how much she does for us.
One thing that I've always sworn that I would do... once my kids reached "teenager age" is to embrace their independence. Let them be who they are, not stifle them, not give them the impression that I don't trust them just because they are a certain age.
My daughter has done nothing to show to me that I can't trust her. The opposite, in fact. I don't know many teenage girls that confide in their mothers about every aspect of their lives... even the embarrassing stuff. I don't know many teenage girls who ask their mothers to come and join them for a game of dodge ball with their friends. I don't know many teenagers that tell their moms to log in to their Facebook accounts just so that their moms can read a conversation that's just taken place. In fact, I don't know many teenage girls that know full well that I log in to her Facebook page, just to do the good "motherly" thing of keeping tabs, and is totally OK with it.
And if this is the teenager I get to live with for the next 5..6..7..10 years (HA!) then, I am A-OK with that!
At the end of the day, I am so proud of the young lady my daughter has become. She is mature, responsible, friendly, caring, loving, athletic, smart, talented, beautiful....and I could go on and on.
I am proud to call myself her mother. I love her with all of my heart.
I know there will be times of trials and tribulations. Not every day will be perfect. I'm sure she'll eventually utter the words that I'm mean, or heaven forbid that she hates me. Being her parent comes first... and sometimes I know decisions will be made that she doesn't agree with. But, I am also confident that the young lady I have raised will understand. She'll make mistakes and will learn from them. She'll do things she's not proud of and will learn from them. And she'll do things that will mold the woman that she'll become. All of which I won't stand in the way of... I'll just be standing by them, always there for her. NO. MATTER. WHAT.
I love you, my little Peanut. Happy Birthday!