Friday, March 4, 2011

Struggling with my preteen girl

I love my daughter. She has been my princess and in a way, my best friend. She's beautiful, funny, smart, and a lovely person. She also seems really sad.

My daughter lives 60/40 between my house and her father's. At my house she has a stepsister, a younger cousin who she has accepted as her brother, and two little half-brothers in preschool. She shares her room and has a lot of trust with the responsibilities she's given. She is also a kid. She has media time, sports, play dates and sleepovers.

At her dad's house she is an only child. She has been the little princess there and does not have many rules to follow, mostly because she is naturally well-behaved. She has unlimited access to any age-appropriate toy, game, TV, and website she wants. She has had some pretty cool girlfriends to share with her Dad, too. I am never told whether she seems sad at his house, but she is at mine.

I can understand that, as a child, being the only child can be awesome. You have undivided attention. Being the last of seven kids myself, I became an only child by the time I was 11, when all my siblings moved out. I can also understand that having brothers and sisters is awesome, too. There's almost always someone to play with or talk to. I shared my room with my sister for the first half of my childhood, with a brother in the room next door. It was challenging, but fun, too.

I have trouble with the changes my daughter's going through. She's going to be a young woman sooner than I can imagine, I'm sure. Maybe I'm too focused on it. Some things have already changed. The most obvious are the mood swings. It's becoming more challenging every day to connect with her. She gets her feelings easily hurt during normal conversation and joking around -- mostly because she doesn't understand the context of what is being talked about. We have lots of tears I have no idea where they come from. When I try to talk to her the walls go up. This crushes my heart. I just want to hug her and make her happy like I do with my preschoolers. It's clear to me she is my baby, but will not be treated as one.

Justin Bieber is her pin up. She reads books and magazines and listens to his music, and has 30 or more posters of his face plastered on her walls. He is the ultimate star in her world. Justin Bieber to me is a way to talk to her. First I learned the words to his songs and talking about what songs she likes. Then we went to the opening night of Never Say Never the movie. We had a great time. We loaded up on junk food, wore 3D glasses and took our picture in one of those photo booths. She even told me things that were cool to know. (Not mentioning what.) But as soon as we get home the tears are turned on. It wasn't the night she had imagined. No explanation why it was such an awful night, just very upset. I can't win.

When my daughter and I do connect its magical. I am a such a proud mother. An example is when she and I are having talks about uncomfortable topics. Puberty. Boys. Bullies. Siblings. She comes alive with questions and her own stories. I finally hear about what she likes and what bothers her and what she would like to try to do to accomplish new things in her life. She is a brilliant deep thinker.

I'm a weepy mother when I'm happy. I know, how embarrassing. If I do it in our home and tell her how proud I am of her she gives that big warm smile I love to see. I am just not allowed to embarrass her in public with my happy tears.

I know she will only be this age once. I can only hope that she does keep me close to her as her entire life shifts from child to teen then to adult. I can remember how much I didn't know and how alone I felt thinking I was alone in my changes. I hope to be compationate, understanding and avalible to her and still be able to give her a little guidance here and there when she needs it.

I love my baby girl and I am sure I'm going to love my wonderful grown daughter, too. I may need lots of help an advice along the way. She's strong willed.

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