This morning we had an informal talk with our oldest daughter about the changes in her body, and my heart sank. She’s 11 and beginning to blossom. She’s grumpy, moody, and angry. But she’s also cheerful, outgoing, and pleasant too. We just don’t know who we’ll get each day.
And I keep thinking, How in the world are we already here?
Just yesterday, you were picking her tiny frame up in your arms, hanging her upside down by the ankles, and singing songs together while you swung her back and forth like a ticking clock.
“Daddy, Daddy, do it again! Do it again!” she’d yell a hundred times. And you would no matter how exhausting work was that day.
Just years ago, she drew stick figures on construction paper, attended her MOPS program, and learned to potty train. We were managing toddler fits, messes, and the never-ending cleanup. You buckled her up in the booster for daddy-daughter dates, bandaged her cuts, brushed her wet hair before school, and filled the air in her bike wheels every time they deflated.
I’m grateful you’ve been active and present through all our kids’ stages of development. You’ve done whatever it takes to work through the struggles and pressures with me.
And now, I’m going to need your help more than ever.
Seasoned moms and dads say the pre-teen and teen years can be brutal. And we’re only at the starting block with sassiness, hormones, attitude, and arguing. I barely recognize our son’s voice, and he looks more like a high schooler than a seventh-grader.
I’m going to need help with organizing one on one time with each kid, setting clear boundaries and consequences. I’ll need your reinforcement of discipline when you’re home from work. I’ll need your quality time and words of affirmation. I’ll need your leadership, love, patience, understanding, and communication. I’ll need your ideas for weekend fun and family connection.
When they were little, our parenting was very physical, and now it’s so emotional. I don’t always do well separating my emotions and I’m terrible at not over-reacting and yelling when I feel attacked or disrespected by their actions and words.
Some days, I feel like the worst mom.
I don’t always know why I’m frustrated and angry. I know I can be difficult to be with at times. Maybe I’m heartbroken in how they’re slowly becoming adults and still grieving their childhood. Yet, I’m also thrilled about their future. I love who they’re becoming and watching their gifts shine. The waves of emotion ebb and flow.
Encourage me to remain logical when emotions fly high and to stay calm charting these turbulent and unpredictable waters. When you see me go crazy, tell me to step away and take a deep breath, go get coffee, take a walk outside, text a friend, or lay in a bubble bath. When I’m a control freak, remind me to come alongside them as a coach.
Thank you for being level-headed when my mind feels like a pile of mush. You’re not afraid of my tear-stained pillows, doubts, anxieties, depression, agitations, time of the month when I feel yucky, and more.
You come alongside me and love me patiently when I don’t know how to handle our family life.
We probably weren’t ready for these teen years, but is anyone? There’s no one else I’d rather parent and tackle these battles with but you. Don’t be mad if I dig my nails into your arm because I’m holding on for dear life.
I love you so much.