Everyone is quick to offer pearls of wisdom for the baby years, and words of sympathy when that baby seemingly overnight turns into a teen … but no one really talks about what happens right before. Specifically, the tween years.
They’re an introduction to the teen years, a reminder to enjoy what’s left of childhood, and also a call to action — get it together mama because if you think your hands are full now…
As the mom of a 10-year-old girl, I’m currently navigating those murky tween waters. Some days, I struggle to stay afloat. Others, I don’t want it to end. Here’s what no one told me about the tween years:
1. Empty nest syndrome starts long before they move out. My kid is still here and some days I already miss her terribly.
2. They will make a bad choice and suddenly, you’ll be afraid for their future (trust me, it’s not that bad. We are all more than a single bad choice.).
3. You’ll wish you tried harder in school … middle school math is no joke. And now that you’ve got a middle or almost high-school aged kid, it feels like the joke is on you.
4. People will say that your kid is lucky to have you, but you’ll know that it’s just the opposite.
5. It’s been many years since they were babies and you’re still asking time to slow down.
6. You’ll forgo sleep to check on them each night. You need to make sure they didn’t kick the covers off and kiss them just one more time.
7. Your heart will melt when they reach for your hand or kiss you. You’ll thank your lucky stars they haven’t entirely outgrown parental public displays of affection.
8. Everyone at school is going to tell them that the tooth fairy and Santa aren’t real. They’ll come to you seeking answers. You’ll want them to hold on to the magic of childhood for as long as possible. So, of course, they’re real.
9. You’ll be grateful you aren’t back in your own tween years, but at the same time, wish you were still one so you could back your kid up at recess — tweens can be so mean. So mean, you’ll have to remind yourself you’re a grown-up when you’re tempted to give the school bully the stink eye during after-school pick up.
10. You’ll struggle with wanting to rescue your kids, and trusting that they’ll use the lessons you taught them to rescue themselves.
11. Hormones – they’re coming. You’ll see glimmers of them in your sweet baby.
12. You’ll want to have a say in what they wear. Their bodies are changing and suddenly you’re feeling a little more conscious of their wardrobe. You want them to be comfortable in their own skin while also explaining why certain clothes are no longer appropriate.
13. You will struggle with the fact that sometimes they look much older than they act. As hard as that is for you to grasp, it’s even harder for your tween.
14. They’ll Google you. They’ll Google themselves. Their friends will Google them. You’ll ask yourself if you really need the Internet anyway.
15. They will want a phone because everyone at school has one. You will want to homeschool them.
16. You’ll feel hopeless and hopeful in the same day.
17. They’ll want privacy. It doesn’t matter that you used to change their diapers.
18. You’ll embarrass them. Suddenly you have the power to make their cheeks rosy. And sadly, you won’t even do it on purpose, it just happens. Old stories, cleaning their face in public. You’re just being you … only now that’s totally embarrassing.
19. You’ll cry. You’ll cry when your kid comes home declaring they don’t want to go back to school or when their best friend suddenly doesn’t want to be their best friend. When your kid hurts, you hurt too but applying Band-aids and giving kisses won’t be enough anymore.
20. You’ll find yourself saying “I’m sorry” to your kid more than you ever have before. Be prepared for more “sorrys” from them, too. Tweens and their parents experience all the feelings.
21. You will want to be around even more. Much like the baby years, you’ll have a desire to be around more. It’s important to be in the know. Not to mention you want that bond to be rock solid going into the teen years.
22. You’ll want to be your child’s friend, and you likely will be … to an extent. Just remember, friends come and go – Mama is forever.
23. Boys: you’re already starting to worry about them, and reflecting on what your mother did, so you can do the opposite.
24. Speaking of mothers, you’re hoping yours was wrong and your child won’t pay you back for your teenage years. But just in case she was right, you’re grateful they aren’t here just yet.
25. You’ll become well-versed on the power of a great pep talk.
26. You will lean on your friends like you did when you had a newborn, only this time it won’t be during nursing sessions or nap-time. It will be after morning drop off or in the after-school pick up line.
27. You’ll ask yourself if you’re blowing it a million times and they’ll give you a million and one reasons why you’re not.
28. They won’t always want to kiss you or hold your hand in public, and one day they will run off to greet their friend and won’t look back. (If you’re anything like me you’ll cry.)
But sometimes they will. They will let it be known that as big as they are, they still need you.
And you’ll be so grateful that you get to be the mama.