A Surprisingly Human Moment with My Tween Daughter

Years ago my oldest sister warned me that daughters are abducted by aliens at about age 9.  I laughed it off as uniquely her motherhood experience, sure that my own daughters would remain grounded and true to my idea of who they were.

{pausing for the laughter to die down}

My oldest daughter didn’t enter her alien phase until just after her 14th birthday.  I didn’t realize at the time what a gift it was that she had waited so long.

My third daughter, who will be 12 in two weeks, boarded the mother ship last fall, just as she was entering  jr high.  My normally quiet, compassionate, genuinely loving girl turned catty, defiant, very whatever.  She seeks out and provokes fights with her siblings.  She talks about friends behind their backs.  She rolls her eyes at me so much I feel the need to google “will they really stick like that?” just to be sure.  And her loud, prolonged sighs of displeasure when asked to help out at home might actually cause disturbances in the atmosphere (though I haven’t checked with any scientists on that).

But every so often I see a glimmer of the girl I knew, and it reminds me that she’s just herself, confused by a lot of social, physical, and emotional changes, and longing for me to recognize her. 

Today she and I went out just the two of us, and I saw That Girl – My Girl – and it was such a blessing.

I took her shopping for clothes, and she communicated clearly with me on what she liked, didn’t like (instead of the normal shrugging of shoulders and breathy mumbles), and ultimately wanted.  She was excited about her “finds” and genuinely thanked me for the clothes. 

We sang along to Taylor Swift’s  “You Belong With Me” in the car, and my daughter said how cool it was that I knew all the words.

We went to the toy store to find road-trip toys for our 2yo, and she gave great suggestions and feedback through the many aisles we wandered.

We went to the grocery store, and when I told her I was feeling a little spacey and unsure of what to do for dinner, she quickly chimed in with the idea of having tacos, and helped me gather the ingredients.

I took her out to lunch and while we were quietly eating, she stopped and looked at me.  “I love you, Mom,” was all she said.

Just as sure as I was that my daughters would never change, sometimes I’m too convinced that they’ll never be the same again.  But really, they are the same.  They’re in there, sorting things out, hating the mean or nasty things they do or say but not being able to stop themselves or explain why they did it, hoping all the while that I’ll love them anyway.  They’re the same girls I birthed, same girls I raised, same girls I loved and will always love.  They’ll come out the other side of this with different angles, depths, experiences, but they’ll still be My Girls.

My job is to stay true and strong enough to be the same mom to them, Their Mom, offering the love and support (and sometimes forgiveness) they’ll need.

  • I love this. Slightly different for boys, but not so much. I was thrilled to be playing basketball with my tween the other day at the playground at his school. I was surprised that he’d do this with me in public (looking grungy from a workout).

    Did I mention the playground was empty. Within nanoseconds of a boy from his class riding up to the school, he turned to me and said. “Mom, let’s go.” I didn’t mind heading for the car, still grateful to be part of his world when I could be.

  • awww, that is so sweet, and gives us all some hope!!

  • This is an fantastic post, Stacey! My eleven year old has her good days and her bad days, too. It’s so great that you can keep your wits about you and remember that our daughter shall pass through this sometimes trying stage, and come out on the other side stronger, more mature, and still so very important as member of our families. 🙂

  • Thanks for this little ray of hope, Stacey. There are days that I think Megan’s been abducted…I’m glad that you had a great day, and that you shared it with the rest of us. 😀

  • Natalie J. Vandenberghe

    As a mother of three daughters (ages 15, 26, and 28), I appreciated what you wrote. It brought a tear to my eyes. Thanks for the reminder.
    Blessings ~

  • Lauralee Hensley

    Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing something right or you wouldn’t have had such a lovely day with her.

  • I know just what you mean. When I got to college I rediscovered the girl I had been in elementary school; a girl I had not felt like since I had started junior high. I figured it was coming soon for my daughter and it is getting there. Not full blown, but I’m seeing glimpses of what is to come and I am not liking it. Your post gives me hope that I too will see glimpses of my daughter from time to time, so I won’t miss her too much.