When my second daughter was born my older daughter was turning 4. I thought it was so challenging to have two children four years apart. I was schlepping the car seat carrier, stroller, diaper bag and toys all over town to ballet, soccer, and Gymboree class. I used to sit in the parent waiting room giving the baby her bottle while we waited for her big sister and wished my girls were closer in age so they could be doing these things together.

I wish I could go back and tell that frenzied mom to hang on – it may seem tough now but you will see in a few years how wonderful it is to have your girls four years apart in age. I promise – you will cherish it.

Fast forward nine years.

My girls are turning 10 and 14-years-old this year. Oh time, where did you go? One minute they were running around, playing and being little girls and now here we are – full throttle into the teen and pre-teen stuff. I finally see the benefit to having my girls farther apart in age. It allows me to still have a little girl while I’m watching my first little girl slip away into her own identity right before my eyes.

My 8th grader. She doesn’t need me as much, as it should be, as it means her parents have done something right along the way. It feel as if I am letting go more and letting her do things on her own as we near the end of middle school. I’m proud of the young lady she is becoming and I see that she can handle the independence she has been granted. As difficult as it is to watch this unfold, there is this magical time that takes place each evening with my “too cool for school” teenager that’s allowing me to handle everything that’s changing with her on what feels like a daily basis. 

My oldest, who is almost as tall as me, bounces into my room every evening around the same time. Her sister is in bed already, the house is quiet and it’s just the two of us. I look at her in her PJs and her hair in a bun on top of her head. She looks so grown up yet when she crawls in bed and snuggles up next to me and calls me mommy as she jabbers on about her day and whatever else is on the mind of a 13-year-old. I look over at her as we share a pillow and she looks just like that same little 4-year-old that’s still living in my mind’s eye.

I’ve grown to love that time with us. It has allowed me to be able to handle the “teenage stuff” much better as I know that while she may be grunting at me and giving me one word answers, I have 9:30 p.m. to look forward to. That’s when I get my little girl back, even if it’s for just a few minutes, and I’ll take it – every second of it.

Then there is my 4th grader. This beautiful age of 9 where she wants to be older like her sister but is still a little girl. She came home one day and announced she wanted to start wearing a “sports bra” and I fought every urge I had to laugh and say “you don’t need to wear that” and instead just nodded my head and said “OK honey, whatever you want.”

That same little girl who wants to be wearing a bra and make-up is also the proud owner of the Shopkins that have become like little gremlins multiplying all over my house. She still wants my help with bath time and picking out her clothes and tucking her in at night and I do it, all of it, even when I’m too tired, because I have this heightened awareness that this is short term. I will cherish every moment because eventually, in the very near future I will have not one but two teenagers who won’t need their mom as much.

Then there’s the fighting. They used to get along well – the older one didn’t mind having the younger one tag along, until she decided she was too cool for that. It baffles me that 13-year-old girls don’t remember that they too used to be 9 at one point, yet all of a sudden the 9-year-old sister has become a different species in the mind of her older sister. I’ve watched this unfold over the past couple of years and it breaks my heart a little and often leaves me feeling like I failed them as their mom because I didn’t emphasize the importance of the sister relationship enough, which is ironic seeing that I have two sisters.

Then, something magical happened while at the most magical place on earth! At this point my expectations were so low that as long as they weren’t killing each other, things were good in my book and then, all of a sudden, in the middle of a sea of people in Epcot I saw something I hadn’t seen in what felt like an eternity.

My daughters were walking together side by side talking about which ride to go on next as if they were friends!

No one was calling each other bossy or annoying – it was just two sisters walking together, wearing matching mickey ears with matching bags and didn’t even make a stink about it. Those days of matching outfits are long gone except for this one moment. This one brief glorious moment that sent their mom into “crazy-picture-taking” mode and not even noticing or caring that we were in the middle of a huge crowd of people – it was Disney after all – and I didn’t care.

I do cherish these times, the good and the bad, and as we head into the full teenage years, I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tracie Cornell

Tracie is a writer, blogger, and corporate sales and leadership trainer. A native of Buffalo NY, she lives there with her husband and 15 and 11 year old daughters.   She has been a facilitator for 19 years while also pursuing her passion for writing, coaching and sharing her story of divorce, loss, and a cancer diagnosis all with the goal of connecting with other women to help them through all of life transitions. When she is not writing, traveling for work, and carpooling, she can be found at yoga, on a bike trail, or sitting in a local cafe sipping a latte while on her laptop.  She loves dinners out with her husband and friends and is constantly thinking of where their next vacation will be. Along with being a regular feature writer on HER VIEW FROM HOME - a lifestyle magazine that connects your view to the rest of the world, she is also a contributor on the Huffington Post Lifestyle and Divorce sections. Tracie has an essay, "Getting Back to Me" in the anthology "EAT PRAY LOVE MADE ME DO IT", the follow-up book to Elizabeth Gilberts's bestselling novel where she describes how she found the strength to start taking care of herself as her marriage was falling apart. The book is available now on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Find her at tracielynncornell.com where you can also find how to connect with her on social media.