You know the saying about terrible twos? Well, there should also be something said about terrible tweens. Tweens are not yet teenagers, but it's this awkward phase where everything inside of them is changing and they don't know how to rationally handle the transition. The tween years are your practice for their teenage years...if you survive.
Before I had kids I would hear people say all the time how boys are easier than girls. I wanted girls anyway. I've always wanted girls. I knew girls, I was a girl, so how hard could it be really...right? I figured (young and dumb I'm sure) that my girls would be just like their mom. I considered myself an absolute joy growing up - my parents may disagree but this was my thought process at the time (again, young and dumb). I didn't want boys. I don't like sports. And besides, boys are stinky. And then when I had kids, I had three girls. Prayers answered! But when puberty hit, I realized just how trouble I was in.
Is it too late for a last minute request...Boy me please!
It's tween central in my house right now. Attitudes, mood swings, body aches, and just overall grumpiness. Since I've been there before, I try to relate to my daughters and let them know they're not alone, and all the things they're dealing with is normal. We've all seen the movies where they make this phase so loving and affectionate with ice cream bucket conversations and lots and lots of hugs and chocolate. My situation is totally different. When I try to have an open and honest conversation about, "Here is how your body is changing," I get a few eye rolls, a couple of grunts, quite a bit of, "MOM...really!" and that's the whole conversation. Once I was even told, "Mom you're making me very uncomfortable right now." I wanted to say, "The feeling is mutual, chick.
I do want to have the conversations with them, regardless of how unpleasant. I want them to hear the truth, instead of inaccurate stories by other 10 to 12 year olds. I don't want them to grow up, but I have to face the fact that my little girls are developing into little ladies and I have to prepare them for that.
When I'm around other moms of tweens, I'm around my tribe. They get it. We are all, for the most part, dealing with the same things. We swap war stories, have a good laugh, and give out love, support, and advice. I see so many cute suggestions online about how to make this experience a pleasant and natural one for tween girls. Here are a few:
- Go on a mother and daughter date and just talk about girl stuff
- Make a "my first period" goody bag to celebrate the change
- Spa day
- PMS gift bags (learn something new everyday)
It's hard watching your daughter change before your eyes. The older they get, the closer they are to experiencing the real world and everything that comes with it. As much as I want to protect them, there comes a time when I have to trust what I've taught them and let go. I have to allow them to find their own path. The tween phase is just the beginning of the preparation for that.
Raising a tween is hard and exhausting. But I have noticed that our conversations are changing. We talk for longer periods of time about all kinds of things. She wants to get into makeup and clothes. Her tastes are changing and she's venturing out and doing new things. I still see the little girl that I birthed in her eyes, but I can also see her maturity level increasing and she's taking on more responsibility. I am learning to enjoy my tween, because I've also heard that teenagers are no joke either. And I believe this time, I will listen.