As our children get older, our mothering skills must adapt. When my oldest daughter Mariah turned 10 and officially became a preteen (sometimes called a “tween”), I quickly learned there were a new set of rules. It was to be a year of transition, for her and DEFINITELY for me. Here is how it happened:
One morning before school I told Mariah I needed the dishwasher unloaded before she went to school, and I went for a run. When I got back, I kissed her and Tahlia, her sister, good-bye and they left for school. A few minutes later I went to load the dishwasher, and sure enough, it hadn’t been unloaded. So I got in the car and went to the school to pick her up. I was still in my tried-and-true BYU retro sweats with a tee-shirt and crazy hair. I walked into her classroom and she was showing her friend her new jacket. When she spied me her face fell, but she came over.
Me: Did you forget something this morning?
Me: OK, let’s go. I’ll bring you back as soon as you’re done.
We walked to the car in silence. While we were driving home:
Mariah: Why didn’t you get dressed before you came to get me?
Me: I am dressed!
Mariah: No, in real clothes!!
Me: (Pause to decipher what that meant.) Did I embarrass you?
Me: Don’t worry; I will embarrass you lots more times before you are finished growing up.
I think I got the eye-roll.
Later on that day I realized I hadn’t apologized to her for embarrassing her, so I tried again.
Me: Mariah, I am so sorry I embarrassed you today.
Mariah: When you were growing up, did your mom embarrass you?
Me: (I kind of got a little excited at this, empathizing, sharing common ground, etc.) Yes! All the time! I hated it!
Mariah, really agitated: THEN WHY ARE YOU DOING IT TO ME?
Me: Oh, honey! I wasn’t trying to embarrass you! It’s just something that mothers do naturally!
She calmed down and accepted my apology. I promised to do my best to not embarrass her. She has always let me hug her.
And so began our transition year. Her personality has new depth, she is her own person; she has new interests and new abilities. It is fun for me to see her test her wings. She is figuring out who she is. I feel like this is a vital time.
One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was wings. According to my mom, there is nothing her children can’t do. We can do anything, be anyone, we want. Limits don’t exist in her mind, as so are not applicable to her children. In fact, rules just plain don’t apply, except for the laws of the Gospel. I carry her faith in me with me; I wear it like armor. What a priceless gift my mother has given me.
I have not been blessed with the same spiritual gifts as my mother. I see limits and boundaries and rules. My hope of all hopes is that as my children spread their wings, I can distill in them the confidence I have in their ability to conquer life. And avoid clipping their wings at all costs.
As I transition into preteen years and beyond, I am grateful for forgiving children.