I have vivid memories of what it was like to be 8. I can still remember how it felt to curl my tongue into the gaps of my missing teeth. I remember suddenly feeling butterflies in the pit of my stomach while talking to a boy in my class that I had known for years, unsure of why I was having those funny feelings. I remember feeling self-conscious about my knobby knees, and I can still remember conversations that I had with my best friend.
My oldest daughter is now 8, and I can’t believe that I’m the parent of an 8 year old. Now that she’s at an age that I can remember, parenting somehow feels a bit different to me. My daughter is developing her own personality, experiencing feelings and emotions that I can remember feeling, and I feel more confident as a mother – because I once walked in my daughter’s shoes.
Sure her experiences as an 8-year-old are different than mine were, but I’m hoping that I can help her to navigate through the confusing, exciting, overwhelming, challenging waters as she transitions from child to tween.
The challenge though, is that as she matures, I feel as though my status as “mom” in her eyes is maturing as well. I feel like I’m slowly moving from mom-with-an-enthusiastic-exclamation-mark, to mom-with-a-sarcastic-eye-roll, and I know that it’ll only get more difficult as she moves towards her teen years.
I can still remember suddenly feeling a tinge of embarrassment when my mom kissed me goodbye in front of my friends at school. I can remember rolling my eyes when my mom interrupted my friends and I during a play date, and I can remember crying in my pillow, convinced that my mom was ruining my life because I couldn’t watch TV until my homework was complete.
But I also remember feeling confused about my feelings towards my mom. I remember feeling guilty when I pulled away as she leaned in to give me a kiss, or rolled my eyes, not completely understanding why I was suddenly being so mean to the woman who I looked up to the most. I was suddenly annoyed by my hero – my best friend, and I didn’t understand why.
I’m learning that it’s important to give my daughter the space that she needs to mature. I need to be more conscious of how I speak to her and act around her in the presence of her friends, and most importantly, I’m realizing that it’s more important now than ever to establish a trusting relationship with her that goes beyond the because-I-told-you-so status of mom.
I’m doing my best to teach her that it’s alright to be honest with me about her feelings, even if it means that mine might get hurt. I hope that I’m doing it right, and that I don’t forget that I was once in her shoes, and that my mother was once in mine.