Thursday, June 7, 2012

Growing up

I look into her sleepy grinning face, and her daddy's blue eyes sparkle back at me.  She should be in bed, but for some reason she keeps reappearing at my side.

I am busy; I am always busy, though, and they grow weary of my inattention.

She's so young, but her young body is growing in ways for which she is not ready.  She's going to be an "early bloomer," as they say.  As was her mother.  This is not something her mother is happy to have passed on.

It is also her mother's voice that emerges when she speaks, the flippancy and sarcasm that is a routine part of their daily banter.

She is so much like me.

And yet...

She is so much more than me.  She shines in a way that is unique to her.

I am tired.  Work is done for the day, dinner is cooked and cleaned up, [some of the] chores are done or can wait.  I would like nothing more than to have a few minutes to write something, anything - just write, dammit - but she needs something.  Just me, I think.

She is on an estrogen fueled roller coaster these days.  She is at the mercy of her hormonal surges.  This is a hard place to be, even for more mature girls.  Emotions are raw, unexpected, uncontrollable.  Tears are frequent.

What's wrong with her? The males in our home ask, exasperated.

They make jokes.  In her fragile emotional state she cannot find the humor, only the hurt.

I find myself being her adversary and her emissary simultaneously.  I am battered by the onslaught of her emotions.  I try to fend her off for my own self preservation.  I will point to the doorway and tell her to go out, to leave me, to go spew emotion somewhere else, pleasefortheloveofgod.

But she doesn't know what to do with it.  She doesn't even know why she's so upset most of the time.  She is a mystery to herself.

Then I am intervening on her behalf, begging them to please let her be, to please understand that she's a biologically crazy person right now and she deserves their sympathy, not their ridicule.

Her father is out of his element.  This is not the daughter he knows.  How can he dote on her when there are venom and fangs and claws where once there was only sweetness and light?

He doesn't handle it as well as he could.  His response is defensive, visceral, accusatory.  She's impossible, I'm done.  

I beg, harass, and challenge him to be the dad she needs; we don't always get to be the parent that we want to be.  We have to meet them where they are. 

She needs softness, she needs rationality, she needs forgiveness.  This business of growing up is exhausting.

She needs to hear that she's beautiful.  She needs to hear that this is natural, normal.  Her body is changing, growing, has become a place where she is no longer entirely at home.

Her clothes don't fit the same.  Yes, this too is a source of emotion, tears.  Nothing fits.  Even things that fit last week are snug and awkward this week.

Her best friend makes comments about how they can't share clothes anymore.  They've known each other since infancy, and they've always shared clothes.  Suddenly, she is taller and several sizes larger.  She has hips.  Who does this body belong to?

She tells me she looks different than all her friends at school.  I nod in sympathy.  I remember it well.  I let her know a secret I never really understood; they'll all grow, too.  It will just happen later.  I ask her to talk to me about how she's feeling, because I know it's hard.  I was just like you.  But you're braver than I was.  I know you're going to be okay.  Let's always talk, though, always tell me what you're thinking.  Promise?  She does.    

She stares at my stretch marks in fascination one day while we're lazing around in the pool.  

Wow, they're still there?
And you're... ya know.  Those.  I don't like to say the word.  
I don't like that word.   
Well you didn't mind it for the first three years of your life.  That's what you called them when you wanted to nurse, you know.  
I know, don't talk about it!  
Okay... So, what about them?  
Are mine going to be like that?  
Not if you're lucky.  But, genetics say probably yes.  Sorry, chicklette.  

Now she is afraid puberty will bring stretch marks and droopy those.  No, I tell her.  That comes after babies.  You have a while left yet.

Later, she watches me pensively as I climb out of the pool.

What's on your mind?
I just can't believe that's going to happen to me one day.

I just smile, because it's okay.  Because she doesn't know.  She won't understand until she gets there.

She doesn't look forward to all the growing and changing.  I don't blame her.

Tonight, she is clingy.  She needs us to put her to bed.

Why tuck her in? She's 8, her dad wonders aloud.

It wounds her, and she runs away, embarrassed.  Again, he does not understand this foreign land of the prepubescent female.

I understand.  She's growing up too fast.  It's scary.  She needs that connection to the girl, the little one that gets tucked in at night.

I send him in to make amends.  They do their best to come to terms with each other.

This is only the beginning, I tell him.  This is 8.  You're going to love 16... just you wait and see.


  1. Excellent job Amanda. I'm a proud father of two wonderful daughters and yes, they do grow up too fast. You are correct....8 is great, 16 is even sweeter, especially when you are blessed with great kids. Continue to tell your children to "make good choices" and we parents need to "pick our battles."


  2. We all need guides on this journey through life ... ones who have gone before us and can speak to our questions, our uncertainty. I have a dear friend who often tells me "I didn't go through all this just for me!" There are those who can shine a light showing us the way. Trouble is so many don't ask questions, fail to inquire as to what worked or didn't, what they could/would/wished they had done. Living life is experiential yet at every stage we have the opportunity to be open to available wisdom if we choose.
    Good job Mama. Hugs!
    For myself, I don't find them to be sweeter at 16 ... or 18. All you can do is exactly what you did - show up, tell your truth, and don't be attached to the outcome, all the while tracking the results. This *is* love ... unconditional LOVE.

    1. "show up, tell your truth, and don't be attached to the outcome," ...words to live by. thanks. love you!

  3. enjoyed your writing.. well done...the comment, "I look into her sleepy grinning face, and her daddy's blue eyes sparkle back at me." makes me ~tear~ my husband was killed
    on his motorcycle when our daughter was 15...she looks and acts exactly like him..and the statement of those blue eyes is exactly what I feel and could not express it...thank you..

    1. Now I'm gonna get all teary... You're welcome. Thank you for sharing and for being here.

  4. I found you on the blog hop. I can totally relate to this!! I've got a 10 year old and 13 year old...both girls!

  5. Ha, I have conversations like this with my daughter all the time! New follower from Blog Hop :)

  6. This is wonderful! I love how you write! I found you via Blog Hop, I'm looking forward to getting to know you!!

  7. This is beautifully written. And now you've got me wondering if the crazy coming from my own 8 year old might be hormones. Now you've got me thinking...
    Found you on the TGIF Blog Hop.

  8. I've been sitting here reading blogs for well over an hour and this is the best one I've seen. Beautifully written. I was an early bloomer too so brings back memories, you've captured it perfectly. I'm also a little worried for the future as i'm mum to two little girls. I can't start worrying now though.. we've got plenty to get through first.. teething and potty training, weaning and separation anxiety. Have a great weekend with your beautiful girl! x