My daughter is almost a teenager. She is 12, one month away from 13.
Last week, I was working at her school, and I happened to be there during lunch time. I have learned (the hard way) that she does not want a surprise drop in visit from mom. What used to make her day, now has the potential to ruin it.
So, I texted her. I could see her across the cafeteria, huddled with her friends, eyes all trained on their phones.
Her head whipped around. I could see the blush creeping across her cheeks from across the room. She scowled, slowly shaking her head. Telling me with only a little body movement to Stay. Away.
And then I made such a rookie mom mistake. I acted like I cared, like it bothered me a little bit.
I've noticed over the last few months that suddenly, I am mortifying. At the beginning of the school year, she wanted me to meet her at the office instead of at lunch. Now, I laugh too loud when we're at restaurants. I don't use the right kind of chapstick. Usually, these things just roll off my back. I retell them to my girlfriends as we commiserate about all the pent-up hormones that haven't found a release yet. Plus, I remember being 12, one month away from 13. I remember when everything my mom did I found simultaneously irritating and assuring.
It stings a little when you know you have to let this brave being venture the world, alone when she wants to be, but fully present when she needs that too. I've read all the books about how this is her figuring out who she is separate from me. I've taught kids this age. I've studied child psychology. It's all normal, I tell my friends when they struggle, and myself when I forget.
I'm comforted by the fact that her long-legged self still wants a kiss each night before she goes to bed. She wants me to look over her homework. She likes when I pick her up from track.
Honestly, it's not my ego that hurts. I realize it's a mourning of the passage of time. I'm excited for this sweet girl to be a teenager. I can't wait for her to get older, to watch her bloom into herself. I like each stage of her life more than the one before. Yet it also means I have to let something go. I have to let this 12, one month away from 13 girl be mortified by me, to give her the space to chart her path.