A Tween is Born

Recently my oldest daughter turned nine. She is officially a tween. Of course I've seen the signs, though I'm steeped in denial. I've noticed breadcrumbs of puberty (*hate that word)...

When I go to kiss her at night, rather than a kiss on the lips she's started leaning in with her head. I kiss hair. Which is still sweet, and admittedly less germy, but I've been kissing my little girl for nine years so to have her butt her head at me instead makes me sigh [emoji: sad face].

Unlike the day your new baby is swaddled and placed upon your chest, pink and perfect, there are no similarities to the birth of a tween. Except for pain. And the pain the second time around, I anticipate, will be more emotional than physical...

Thanks to the suggestion of a good friend who never holds her tongue or spares advice (we all need one!), I purchased the American Girl Doll book "The Care And Keeping Of You: The Body Book For Young Girls" for my daughters. It's been a long time (let's keep it at that) since I was a tween, but it all came flooding back as I flipped through the pages. Shaving for the first time. My first bra. The Dreaded Period. Many memories have been seared into my brain, recalled easily along with the squeamish / embarrassed / terrified feelings that accompanied those times. I didn't have a sister close in age and my mother wasn't overly approachable on these topics. I felt very alone during these times, left to figure things out. I'm determined to do things differently with my daughters. And so from an early age (they were probably not yet talking) I drummed into them "You can tell me anything and Mommy won't get upset. Just tell me the truth and I'll always help you." At least those are my intentions.

So on the day my tween was born, I enjoyed watching her giggling with her friends, blowing out candles and ripping open presents. When the party was over and it was well past bedtime, she asked me to read to her. Exhausted and with my ears still ringing from the voices of eleven girls, I was eager to get in sweatpants and watch TV. But knowing my days of cuddling and enjoying stories with her are numbered, I happily read from the latest book she's loving ("The Land of Stories") and then tucked her into bed. In the final moments of the day she is most like her childhood self, clutching her nine-year old loveys and blanket. But then she leaned over and once again gave me her head/hair to kiss, a reminder of this new stage in her life. Still, it was sweet. I'll take it whenever I can get it.

Happy birthday, sweet girl. And good luck to both of us.