To My Teenage Daughter: I See You

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Believe it or not, the above images were taken on the same day. One depicting my 15-year-old daughter as the little girl I’ve always known. The other a stark reminder that she’s growing up faster than my mind can process. Much like her transition into womanhood, I’m stuck between being the mom I’ve always been and growing into the mom my teenage daughter needs me to be. It’s not easy, and I sometimes feel like I get it wrong more than I get it right. The words can be wrong. The actions are more of a mom who’s afraid to let go than the one who should be teaching her to stand on her own. To my beautiful daughter, I’m sorry for that. I’ll try better to get it right. But today, there are a few things I want you to know, and my simple words of encouragement to go along with each.

I See You…

Toggling between the little girl you’ve always been and the young woman you’re becoming. Maintaining the innocence of childhood but unable to ignore the realities of adulthood looming just around the corner. To that, I say grow! Just don’t forget to maintain the kind of childlike wonder that keeps life fun.

Trying to keep it all together, and at the same time, losing control because juggling so many balls in the air at the same time is hard. Go ahead and drop a few balls. Especially the ones you never needed to carry in the first place. You’ll be surprised at how much peace you find in the simple act of letting go.

Drawing close to me and pulling away at the same time. Realizing Mom may know a few things but still rejecting that my way has to be your way. That’s okay. Take those training wheels off and force me to let go of the bike. Don’t worry, I’ll be right there on the sidelines cheering you on, ready to catch you if you fall.

Pushing boundaries, yet being drawn to the comfortable and familiar. Your confidence is strong, but you still possess a healthy fear of the unknown. Take a few chances. Just make sure to let your failures teach and humble you and your successes infuse confidence.

Making the right choices (and sometimes the wrong ones). One moment, you feel empowered and then instantly uncertain. Confident in your growth and then surprised at how much growing you still have left to do. This is part of life, so the only answer I have for you is to embrace it. Unfortunately, there isn’t always a right or wrong answer. Only choices. Learn to stand strong in the choices you make that are right for you.

You see, we aren’t all that different. In some ways, I’m still going through all of this, myself. Not just as a mother but as a person. I’ve had years of practice, and some days, like the day I watched you drive away to your first high school dance, knock me off my feet. I realize I’ve prepared you the best I know how and yet worry I simply haven’t done enough. So, I guess the final piece of advice I can offer is just as much for me as much as it is for you: Do the best that you can in each moment and accept that you’ll never really have it all figured out.

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