I watch her as she sits on the back porch, laughing with her friends. She pushes her long, dark hair behind her ear and talks excitedly. She smiles easily at her friends and it lights up her face. She shines bright in this world—this daughter of mine. She is filled with joy and wonder and adventure. She is an encourager and always finds a way to help the hurting. She is a spitfire and a force to be reckoned with . . . strong, confident, and brave. She is everything I have ever wanted in a daughter.
She will be 11 in a couple of days.
I am just now realizing how significant this birthday is and it has caught me by surprise. I knew turning 10—double digits—was a milestone and turning 13 when you are officially a teenager. But I am finding that 11 is a bigger milestone than I thought.
11 is teetering between childhood and womanhood and it is not easy balancing between both. Playing with Barbie dolls one minute and wanting to wear make-up the next. Holding my hand one minute and then quickly running off when she sees her friends. It is wanting to curl up in my lap but demanding her independence. It is a hard transition for both of us as we manage this tumultuous relationship of hanging on and letting go.
I continue to watch her and realize that she has changed so much this past year and I hardly recognize her. When did my little girl start looking more like a teenager? No longer does she have a baby face and she is almost as tall as I am now. How did we get here—11—so quickly?
She continues to laugh with her friends as they sing and dance across the patio. She is carefree and happy and I can’t help but to smile as I watch her. Her joy is contagious.
11 is me holding her close and knowing that these childhood moments are fleeting. I never know when it will be the last time she holds my hand or asks me to braid her hair or sleeps with her stuffed animals . . . but I know it is coming as we walk this tightrope between being a child and becoming a woman.
11 is needing me less and less. So, I am going to savor every minute with her. I will soak up all her excitement as she tells me about her day. I will cherish the fact that she still wants to go see a movie with me. I will hold her tight & breathe in her scent when she climbs in bed with me each morning and curls up against me.
11 is knowing that these carefree childhood days will soon fade away and it won’t be long before we are full on in the teen years. We will be trading in Barbies, slime and cartwheels for dating, driving and dances. The worries will be bigger and I know hugs won’t solve all her problems like they do now. This change is coming and it is hard on this Momma’s heart. It is a bittersweet time.
She looks over and catches me watching her. Her smile widens as she waves at me and I find myself grinning at her enthusiasm. Her beauty shines from within and she just makes my heart happy. How I wish I could just slow down time and always keep her this carefree and happy and innocent. . .
I close my eyes and pray she always knows how much she is loved and treasured and adored. I pray she always knows that we are her biggest fans and loudest cheerleaders. I pray she always knows she is worthy and valuable and that the prettiest thing she can wear is a smile. I pray she always chooses kindness and continues to spread her joy. I pray she always knows she is the daughter of the King and she is wonderfully made. She is one of my greatest gifts, this 11-year-old daughter of mine, and I thank God every day for giving me the privilege of being her mother.
11 . . . I’m going to teeter on this tightrope and walk with her on this journey. I’m going to hold her hand when she lets me. And I’m going to stand back and watch her spread her wings when she’s ready to fly.
Originally published on the author’s page