On Cloud 9
“You’re having a girl!” A wha? Really? “Yes, you see those 3 little lines? Those indicate girl parts.” That completely took me by surprise. I figured that I’d be having another boy. Wow, a girl. Crap, a girl – ouch. Immediately I thought “drama” and “hair.” (Luckily for me, she has beautiful curly blonde hair which is a little less maintenance than straight hair. I think the powers up above helped me out with that one…) Of course, throughout my pregnancy I got more and more excited. I’m having a baby girl! Our little perfect family – older brother and baby sister. She was due January 9, 2008, so it was wee bit unexpected to wake up on Christmas Day – THE biggest holiday of the year – in labor. Nonetheless, we welcomed our little girl that day.
My daughter was THE best baby. Easy going, slept well, ate well. My maternity leave was heavenly. My husband would take my son to preschool before he went to work, so it was just me and the little gal spending the days together. We developed a little routine where she’d wake up early to feed, maybe 6am-ish, and then she’d go right back to sleep – which meant that I went back to sleep too. Around 9am, the same exact routine! Score! There were days that I didn’t get out of bed until around noon because, hey, if she’s going to go back to sleep, so was I. And you never wake a sleeping baby. My husband and I joked that payback is probably going to take a nice long visit to our home when our daughter is a teenager!
Well, unless our calculations are incorrect, I think the payback started sooner than later…she’s now turned 9. You see, we’ve been playing this game in the morning called “I’m not going to school!” She enjoys this game a heck of a lot more than I do. I have had to drag her out of the car and shove her onto the bus. Yes, I’m that mom. The mom that you never wanted to be. The mom that everyone is staring at. This is not how I wanted to be the center of attention! Sometimes she changes it up and we play “Why do I have to go to school? Can’t you teach me?” Yes, boys and girls – can any of you imagine me as a homeschool teacher?! (Side note: We’ve chatted; and the teacher and I chatted too; to see if there are any issues at school we should be aware of. Nope all good. And she doesn’t pull this stuff with my husband – so there’s that.) Other hints of joining the drama club are popping up too with some new catchphrases like “You are the meanest mom ever!” and “Mom, you never do anything for me!” and “If you love me, you’ll let me…”
Alas, here we are – I thought I’d have a few more years of “little girl-ness” – afraid not. In honor of my daughter being 9, here are 9 topics that I’m gearing up for as we head into her last year of single-digits and beyond….
- Body Changes: Hormonal changes and pre/puberty are right around the corner. Seriously? Puberty can start as early as 8? Ovaries are starting to enlarge and estrogen starts to flow around this age. So possibly a period at age 9? NOT READY. Chances are slim, but it could happen and we should be prepared. She’s going to grow boobs and hair in other places besides her head! PMS, makeup, deodorant, feminine products, shaving. Did I mention NOT READY? Second mortgage for all this crap too!
- Friends and Cliques: I hope she has the best group of friends who bring about lots of fun times and super memories. Support these friendships….with one disclaimer. Try to avoid those cliques. Easier said than done, but try to include others – or at least don’t omit others purposely. As a definition, a clique is a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. Uh-uh. Not cool. I’ve been on the other side of this and it’s sucks. Oh and on a similar note – and please, please, please don’t be the mean girl. Relationships with friends change, interests get honed in on, and kids go their separate ways, which could result in feelings of loneliness, anger, and jealousy. As adults we know that change is part of life, but it can hurt.
- Peer Pressure: Sure, we all want to be liked, but this is a toughie too! You never know how, where, when, or why, this will hit! And goodness forbid, she’s the peer pressure-er! As time goes on, she’ll make more of her own choices, but in a subtle way, I’ll be working to guide her in a positive direction.
- Those Girly Moods and Drah-ma!: My son is very black and white – it’s relatively easy to know what will tick him off and can prepare yourself as so. The girl though? As with many females, it’s not always easy to predict when the ‘tude might show up. There have been times when my husband and I have cringed at what we think the outcome of a conversation might be – and we get nada. And on the flip side, we’ve seen quite the reaction to something we’ve thought was a complete non-issue. What the…? Girlie keeping us on our toes! What a convoluted flowchart this might create! There will be plenty of times I’ll hear “Mom! You just don’t understand!” – and you know what? Maybe I really won’t understand.
- Self Confidence & Body Image: Even though I know that she’s is beautiful inside and out, there are going to be plenty of times when she doesn’t see this in herself. Cause being a tween/teen can be awkward. That pressure to look perfect and comparing herself to others. Be who you are and don’t let anyone else make you think otherwise. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, especially in these days of social media. No questions like “what did so-and-so get on their test” cause at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to us anyway. I’ll want to nurture and encourage what she loves.
- Boys, Boys and More Boys: I’m no expert in this category – or actually maybe I am cause I’ve been able to keep the same one around for 30 years? (Just sayin’) Anyway, I wish that any excitement and joy outweighs any hurt and heartbreak. And if/when she gets hurt, I have to accept that band-aids with emoji characters on them aren’t going to heal her wounds.
- It’s All Me: This one is 100% selfish. With my son (now 12), I’ve happily passed off any of that “stuff” to my husband. Something going on “down there?” – go speak with dad. Birds and the Bees talk – go speak with dad. I’ve been able to avoid it. But with my daughter – it will be all ME! What if I say the wrong thing? What if I don’t know the answer? Which leads me to….
- The Fights: This is coming – it’s inevitable. She’ll say mean things to me. I’ll say mean things to her. Words that will hurt both of us. Words have fallen out of my mouth like “Why can’t you be like the other kids?” They’ll be plenty days of not listening, accompanied by the “Mom, you don’t know anything!” and “Mom, I hate you!” The rudeness, the cold shoulder, white lies, talking back, the rolling of the eyes – squirming a little as I’m typing here as there has already been evidence of this.
- No More Baby: Yes, yes, she’ll always be my baby. I know that – but she’s quickly becoming NOT a baby…..you guys know what I mean. And she is still a youngin’ in reality…. Like when I went away for a conference recently she asked me not to go because she “can’t go on without me.” And I when I say “I love you” and she says “I love you more.” And when we look in the mirror or take a selfie together and we say “twinsies!” And she still can’t eat ice cream or a chocolate bar without having proof all over her face. But someday soon, she’ll realize that this isn’t quite a fashion statement.
Open communication seems to be key, along with mutual respect, encouragement, understanding, empathy and lots of other touchy-feely words. But – I must balance this with putting my foot (or feet!) down when necessary. This might be difficult, but I never ever want her to feel I’m not there for her, or worse make her feel like she’d rather be somewhere else for help, support and advice. She’s coming into her own as a healthy, smart, beautiful girl – sure my girl’s got some sass and we’ll probably go through some crappy times – but what else can ask for?
Of course, there are a gazillion things that I do look forward to! I’m excited to see who you will become! Maybe she’ll even be interested in a manicure/pedicure one day and we can go shoe shopping together (I’m going to regret this one day.) A few ladies I know have the most amazing relationship with their daughters – Susan/Marissa, I’m talking to you! Lauren/Alex, I’m talking to you! – I’m sure there are many, many, many others – but these are the ones that stick out in my mind. These relationships inspire me to know that with a little pointed effort we can make it through the hard times.
I guess the moral of my story is that I hope I can help her through these years – and I hope she can do the same for me! It may not always be smooth and peaceful – and we might go through lots of shitstorms, but we’ll figure it out together (and just hope that my son and husband don’t run away during the process).
Mama’s got your back. Always.
Right, my girl?