I can remember when I received a bag of hand-me-downs from a friend whose little girl had outgrown her size 10 clothing. My baby, at the time, was barely filling out a size 9-months onesie. I remember laying a shirt out flat next to my napping 9-month-old and thinking it would be forever before she could fit into it. I donated the clothes to Goodwill, I blinked, and today I taught her how to shave.

This is the age I wasn’t ready for . . . 

While I was pregnant, everyone warned me about the sleepless nights and gassy, fussy babies. They warned me about teething and toddling. They warned me about copy-catting and tattle-telling.

They warned me it would be over before I knew it.

When they found out I was having a girl, they warned me about expensive tastes and sassy mouths. They warned me about boy crushes and monthly crankiness. They warned me about silent treatments and solitude.

They have warned—and continue to warn—me about how long the teenage years drag out.

But no one speaks of the in-between. The pre-teen.

We hear of first words, first roll-over, first crawl, first steps.

We hear of first heartbreaks, first jobs, first cars, and first cell phones.

What about the first sleepover, first pimple, first body-conscious comment, or the first discussion about puberty and s-e-x

Society sees the babies and hears the teenagers while ages 8 through 13 seem to fall into the background as quickly as their baby teeth fall out of their mouths.

Too old to play in the nursery, but too young to sit with the youth group.

Wanting to be older, but not quite ready for the responsibilities.

Torn between wanting attention, but not wanting to be babied.

Hungry for answers, but not sure how to word the questions.

Today, I saw her. 

She isn’t cute like a baby or attractive like a teenager.

She’s a bubbly beauty who cries when she’s happy, sad, and mad.

She can eat pizza without me cutting it into bitesize pieces and doesn’t question the calories.

She doesn’t rely on me for her survival but still delights in my presence.

She can fix her own drink and she asks me if I want one.

She dresses herself but still asks my opinion.

This in-between.

This pre-teen.

It’s a magical, bittersweet, beautiful thing.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

You may also like:

The Nights Are So Long

The Sweet Spot of 11