Dear daughter at 14,
It seems impossible that you are 14 years old. How did we get here so fast? Often, I wonder when I held you on my hip for the last time. I wish I could have known it would be the last time, but then if I had, I may have never put you down.
So many things are gone and over. There are no more baby teeth to lose. Remember how you used to hide them so you could stockpile your money? You no longer require stops in the children’s clothing department or the toy aisles on shopping trips. I look back at photos and wonder how you became so grown, right before my eyes. Your fluffy bangs, the ones you had at seven that stuck straight up, are all gone, and instead, your highlighted hair is smoothed back, high and tight, into a sleek cheerleader’s ponytail.
Some days, it feels like you need me less.
You reach for your cell phone more frequently than you reach for my hand. You need me less. I no longer venture into your room stepping over baby dolls and Barbie dolls each night to help make sure your clothes are put away and your school clothes are ready for the next morning. No, you take care of that yourself. You are growing, thriving, stretching your legs, and learning do life on your own, without my help. It hurts, to be honest.
And yet, I have to remind us both, you still need me. Yes, you’ll probably roll your eyes and suck your teeth, but we both know it’s true. When I ache to hold you like I used to do, I remember, I still get to hold you. You still need your mama.
I’ll hold you when the mean girls say hurtful things or when the boy breaks your heart.
I’ll help you navigate high school. I’ll talk you through it when you don’t know what to do.
I’ll encourage you when the classes get hard. Don’t worry, I’ll make you study when your own laziness threatens your success.
I will hold your hand through getting your first job.
I’ll remind you of your worth when you don’t think you’re good enough. Because you are.
I’ll still take those “proud mama” pictures. It won’t be your first step or first lost tooth, but I’ll capture your first day of driving; I’ll snap the pictures of you smiling before your first prom.
I’ll teach you how to text that boy who likes you, so you don’t feel so nervous or awkward. I’ll show you how to start a relationship with a friendship.
I’ll be there to fix your makeup when you can’t figure out that liquid eyeliner.
I’ll be your sounding board as you debate and plan your future. I’ll listen to your fears.
I get to help you decide on a college and move into a dorm or apartment.
I’ll get your groceries when you’re just starting out and you’re flat broke.
I’ll forgive you when you do something stupid because trust me, you will. And I’ll lecture you and fuss about it, too. I can see you giving me that yeah, yeah look now. I’ll help you find a way through it.
Sweet girl, 14 is hard.
You are caught in the middle, neither a child nor an adult, not grown but not helpless, confident yet so unsure. In so many ways, you’ve learned to do things without me, and I look at your independence with a swirl of pride, joy, and sadness. You are capable, already, of so many things.
Yet, there are so many things still to be done, still to experience. I look at my own mama now and wonder if this is how her heart must have felt when I was 14. Just as she and I did, you and I will watch our relationship change and grow as the years speed by faster and faster. You’ll learn, as I did, that you never stop needing your mom.
Someday, you won’t need me to remind you to brush your teeth and pack your lunch, but you’ll always need me. And I won’t always be able to provide for you, protect you, or do things for you, but I’ll always be here.
Because sweet girl, I’m your mom.
I’m your mom at 14.
I’m your mom forever.