If I could give my daughter three things, it would be: the confidence to always know her self worth, the strength to chase her dreams and the ability to know how truly, deeply loved she is.
It is winter break for both of my girls and with the excitement of Christmas past us, things are in full swing with activities to enjoy during their time off. For Layla, only 21 months old, staying at home just entails more playing! You see, to her, life is just a constant discovery zone and everything from crayons to peeking under the couch to see what is there is an adventure. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether she is here or at her little nursery school playing, everything is fun! For Lillian, who is now ten, school breaks have started to take a turn. A turn in a new direction.
In the past, you would find Lillian on all kinds of adventures for the days we were just hanging around the house during school breaks, similar to what her sister is doing now. As a hopeful and budding actress, you would always find her setting up “stages” all over the house and she would be lost for hours in a “movie” she was creating. Now, she is caught up with friends, activities outside of the home and for the first time this year, sitting me down to talk. Yes, talk. She is opening her stage to me now, needing my guidance with this new production of life.
Okay, so you might be asking yourself, “wait, she didn’t talk to her daughter prior to this year?” No no, of course I did! In fact, with Lillian’s chatty and humorous behavior, I often ask myself when we will NOT hear her talking away! Silence has become hard to find since Lillian entered this world and I know one day she will be on stage somehow entertaining crowds of people with her verbosity and hilarious personality. But this was a different kind of talk. This was a “Mom, I just need space” kind of talk. What has happened to my baby?
Puberty. That’s what. It has officially settled in and I am watching my daughter transform not just physically but from an innocent little girl, lost in dress up plays around the house to a still innocent, pre-teen who is learning about the early days of self-discovery. And for the first time since she said her first word, I am finding her quieter than normal and all I have been doing is trying to find ways to keep the words flowing!
Silence now finds me curious as to what is going on in her beautiful little mind.
Now that life has slowed down for the holiday break, I am able to slow down at the pace of this new shift in her. At first it was worrisome to begin to see her sink back in silence, often retreating to her room to write or draw. I thought, is she depressed?
With worried thoughts spilling out to my husband and mother, I felt lost in this stage of Motherhood. I realized I needed to reflect, so I did through prayer and meditation and I grasped that this is not the first time a transition has happened. But it is the first time that my little girl, my first-born baby was transitioning into someone beyond those dreamy childhood days.
I wasn’t afraid to admit that it scared me a bit and I felt the tears sliding down my face remembering my Lillian as a toddler like her sister Layla is now. I had yet to slow myself down to make space for these changes. It sure feels good to prepare myself to embark on this adventure to a new Lillian with her! I let myself process the feelings that came with these changes and I now cannot wait to see who she will become!
Do teen years terrify me? Yes and no. Truthfully, I never really thought about them until now as she and I sat down last night to have this talk: a talk like we never had before. For the first time I saw Lillian in a new way. And the tears that followed were tears of pride. Words spilled out of her mouth as she described how she really felt about her changing body, her emotions that are going up and down now, her thoughts on who she will be in the future and all kinds of things I had yet to hear her say. I was getting to know my daughter in a new, deeper way. We held hands as I gave her the space she needed to just talk without judgement or leaping to protect her frustration.
Her ability to share her heart with me made me realize that no matter what she has been through in her journey with us as her parents, she is still talking! And I am so thankful for that. I also realized, that the quietness she has been displaying since the summer is actually her just growing toward independence. Her reflection about her silence that she shared made my heart leap with amazement and love. So I will share it with her permission:
“Mom, sitting alone in the stillness helps me to think. You cannot hear your heart when your mind is too busy with distraction. I need to figure out my feelings sometimes on my own now and that is okay. I am not afraid to be alone. I am learning to really love who I am. Thank you for teaching me how to listen to myself.” – Lillian, age 10.
At that moment, after months of feeling like I was constantly striking out and lost as a Mom with her, I instantly felt like I hit a home-run!
As I leaned down to hug her, I silently gave her the love and freedom she needed to continue this new path in her life. I felt her body sink into mine like she did when she was younger and the relief wash over the both of us. She is just beginning this self discovery that is a lifelong journey and instead of worry, I am excited for her.
To all mamas out there whose children are in these very first stages of puberty and change, don’t be afraid. I know it is hard to let them go, but I realized as I let her talk, that by letting her free to explore and open up to me, she is letting me in. And as a mama, that is all the comfort I need.
Peace and Love,