Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

My daughter turned 12 last month, which means we’ve somehow tiptoed into uncharted territory. I blinked, and then everything I once knew seemed to change overnight.

For example, when we have plans to go out to dinner, she spends over half an hour behind a closed door getting ready as the voices of Taylor Swift or Ava Max keep her company. Though it mostly involves a quick swipe of mascara or a tap of blush or a kiss of gloss pressed against her lips or discarded outfits I’ll inevitably have to pick up later, this new process is missing something that I, historically, have found quite essential in her getting-ready routine: me.

Moments like these find me standing in my bedroom, one minute getting myself ready, the next finding me fighting the urge to go knock on her door, to inquire if she needs any assistance. I want to ask her: Do you want me to help you pick out an outfit? Do you want me to curl your hair? Or better yet: Do you want to tell me everything you’re feeling right now so I rejoice in your happiness or so I can bear the burden of whatever scary feelings you may be having right now?

Inevitably, I’m found standing outside her door, listening to her own voice mix with happy pop beats, fearful she’s started a slow descent into not needing me anymore. I’m waiting, ready to knock, or even better, for her to open it and ask me for something. Anything.

But I don’t. I wait patiently for the moments to find me instead.

RELATED: Dear Teenage Daughter, I Will Be Right Here Waiting For You to Come Back to Me

It’s 9:37 on a Thursday night, and I’m stretched out beside my daughter on her bed. The end of August has brought a heat wave and the beginning of seventh grade for her, which starts early tomorrow morning.

Half an hour ago, after the whirlwind of the night before the first day of school activities was finished, my almost teenage daughter asked me to read to her. This girl—the one I read Goodnight Moon to when she was still in my belly, the one whose downy, toddler hair I sloppily cried into as I struggled to get through the words in Love You Forever, the one who humored me during the pandemic as we searched for all the illustrations that started with each letter of the alphabet in Animalia—still wanted me to read to her.

I practically jumped into her bed. Play it cool, I reminded myself.

“I’d love to,” I told her. “How about we start Anne of Green Gables?”

I began reading, and she nestled her head on my shoulder, stretching out beside me. I couldn’t help but notice her legs were almost the same length as mine now. Before long, we’ll be toe to toe. I blinked, and she grew up.

Two chapters later, I felt her breathing slow, the edge of sleep beginning to pull her under. I reached over and switched her bedside lamp off, making a move to get up and wish her good night. “Stay,” she whispered, and I, of course, had happily obliged.

RELATED: When Your Daughter Turns 13

“You know how I normally cry the night before school starts because I’m nervous?” she says into the dark now.

“Yep,” I nod, thinking of her almost-decade of return-to-school worries.

“I don’t think I need to tonight,” she announces confidently. “I’m excited instead. And ready for it all.”

“I’m so proud of you,” I manage to say, still trying to play it cool. I blink away the tears forming at the edges of my eyes, glad there’s only one of us crying tonight.

“Thanks for laying with me, Mom,” she adds sleepily, slipping her hand in mine.

My heart sings. Because with just a few words, she has temporarily put my fears to bed. She’ll be okay, so will I, and so will we, as we continue our journey into these beautiful middle years. One moment, one question, one answer, one story at a time: there we’ll be, side by side, together.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Corey Wheeland

Corey Wheeland is a writer, graphic designer, marketing professional, and mom to her amazing daughter, Zoey. She is the author of the book Blessed, Beautiful Now, a collection of heartfelt essays documenting her post-divorce search to find her authentic self. She is also the creator of The Nostalgia Diaries blog. Corey’s writing has been featured on Motherly, Today's Parent, Red Tricycle, Holl & Lane, and many other online publications.

14 Feels Like the Beginning of Our Slow Goodbye

In: Teen

My 14-year-old texted me from her break at work, telling me she felt impending doom. You don’t know my daughter, so it might be easy for you to write off her words as typical teenage drama. But I know her, and I knew this was a lead into something bigger, something weighing on her heart. I returned her text asking why, and her response . . . Because my childhood is ending.  And she’s right. It is.  My daughter graduated from middle school just months ago. We went to her 8th-grade promotion. Her dad went with her on her class...

Keep Reading

Sometimes All We Can Do is Be There For Our Teens

In: Motherhood, Teen
Blankets on bedroom floor

I slept on my teenage daughter’s bedroom floor last night. It wasn’t a slumber party. It was just all I could do. She’d gone to bed early, as she does on nights she has that option, which aren’t many. I’d gone to bed early, too, but was awakened around 10 by my mom radar, which is almost never faulty. Sure enough, light and sobbing were coming from her room. I went in to find her sitting up in bed, an assigned-reading book from one of her classes open on her lap and tears streaming down her face. She was crying...

Keep Reading

10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Getting My Daughter Through Middle School

In: Kids, Motherhood
10 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About Getting My Daughter Through Middle School

With my daughter starting high school, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I learned along the way so you won’t make some of the same mistakes I did. Now I just need someone to write about getting your daughter through the high school years . . .  Always keep ramen in your pantry. This is for when friends come over—and don’t buy the organic kind. I have yet to meet a teen who will eat Whole Foods ramen. The good news is you can buy a 12 pack at Walmart for two bucks. Stock up on boxes of healthy...

Keep Reading