I’m beginning to get whiplash as I watch my daughter speed past on her way into teenage-dom. Before too long, she’ll be thirteen. And she can’t get there fast enough.
I am almost daily reminded of this in one way or another now. And I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this realization often comes with a twinge of sadness for the little girl I’m losing.
As all teenagers are, she’s become quite concerned with looks and what other people might think. In that regard, having me for a mother isn’t always easy. Witness this morning’s exchange:
“Mom, you’re going to change out of those clothes before we go to the store, right?” Cait said, assessing my attire.
“What? You don’t like my Farmer Brown duds?”
I’d just come in from weeding and composting a section of the garden that I was readying for garlic, and I was covered in mud.
“And the glasses… you’re only going to wear one pair?” Cait asked hopefully.
As I often do when I’m home, I had one pair on my nose (for close up) and one pair sitting on top of my head (for distance) so I can easily switch as needed. Quite the fashion statement.
“Not that I don’t think that’s not a cool trend or anything,” Cait said. “But I think it has a ways to catch on,” she added, ever the diplomat.
“I always was ahead of my time,” I said, marching myself upstairs to change.
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And just when I’m certain the teenager is here to stay and I’ve lost that little girl for good, the little girl manages to tuck herself right back into my heart. Witness this evening’s exchange:
As we always do at bedtime, Cait and I had run through our “Best Part, Worst Part, and Don’t Tell.” It was her turn to share her “Don’t Tell.”
She began, “Mom, do you know why I always say “Goodnight, my Mommy?” when you’re getting ready to leave the room?”
For quite a while, the bedtime ritual has also included the sign-off, “Goodnight, my Mommy,” to which I always reply, “Goodnight, my Love.”
“Why?” I said, gently brushing the hair from her face.
“Because sometimes I get afraid that what if I died in the night…” She reached for my hand to hold. “Or, you know, the monster under my bed finally got me.”
We both laughed at the memories of this childhood rite of passage.
“Seriously, though, Mom. I always say Goodnight my Mommy, because I want the last words I hear before I go to sleep to be, Goodnight, my Love… So that if anything happened, I’d always know you loved me.”
My throat clutched tight. I hugged her in my arms and we talked a while longer.
When it was time for me to go, I turned out the light and reached to close the door behind me.
Right on cue, from the darkness, came, “Goodnight my Mommy.”
I answered loud and clear, “Goodnight my Love.”
Glad for the darkness hiding my tears, I was feeling very thankful for getting to have the full experience of my little girl for one more night.