I have one daughter who is officially a “tween” and another close behind. When we announced that we were having a girl (and then another and then another), people would often warn us about what would be coming. Boys are harder now, they ALL said, but girls will be your undoing later. One woman once told me that when her daughter entered fifth grade, “she almost instantly became someone new”. I laughed with these people. I nodded my head and sagely said, “Oh I know. It should be interesting” even though I secretly thought, “Nah. It will be fine. I’ve GOT this”. So here I am. I have a tween. I don’t HAVE this at all. I doubt my parenting skills now more than I ever did as a first time mother. I have no idea what I’m doing with this beautiful, hilarious, moody, and dramatic child of mine. Her sister is quickly morphing into this same creature. I’m terrified. Every day is an adventure with a tween.

The Ecstasy:

My tween is becoming very independent and responsible. I can leave her home alone for short periods of time. She can be trusted to get her baby sister breakfast in the morning while I’m frantically drying my hair. She has a better memory than I do and she makes sure that I do not forget important things: “Mom, don’t forget to put lunch money into our account”, “Mom, remember to RSVP to that party for me”, “Mom, I made sure the baby put Elmo into her backpack”. She can shower, dress, and feed herself. She is extremely helpful around the house.

The Agony:

My tween is becoming very independent and responsible. She knows everything and I know nothing. She NEVER lets me forget anything: “Mom, you SAID you would make cookies this weekend and you DIDN’T”, “Mom, you SAID you would do a load of laundry and you DIDN’T so now I have NOTHING TO WEAR”. She orders her sisters around because she’s “JUST TRYING TO HELP! YOU TELL ME TO HELP AND THEN YELL AT ME WHEN THEY CRY.” Yep. Thanks for the help sweetie.

The Ecstasy:

My tween is growing into a young adult. Her legs are getting longer. She’s beginning to get an adorable little shape. I look at her some days and I’m breathless. She’s so beautiful. I look at baby pictures and I can’t believe how much she’s matured and grown. I am so excited to see the women she will become.

The Agony:

My tween is growing into a young adult. Her hormones are raging. She cries over everything. Her iPad crashed? Tears. Her favorite jeans are dirty? Sobbing. The baby won’t give her a hug? Tears, yelling, and a door slams. Her body is changing and she’s terrified. I’m trying to help and stay calm but am I saying the right things? How much do I tell her? When do I tell her? As a parent I’m filled with insecurities as I try to help her develop a strong self-image, an understanding that all body types are beautiful, and teach her how to be safe and healthy as she becomes a woman. Figuring out how to breastfeed was simple compared to this parenting challenge.

The Ecstasy:

My tween has multiple personalities. In some moments she is still my little girl asking for hugs, playing games, laughing at the silliest things. Other days she’s my friend. She loves to shop with me. She is beginning to read the same books I have read and enjoys discussing them. We like the same movies and are beginning to dress the same with our skinny jeans, boots, and choice of jewelry. She can have amazing insight and asks brilliant questions about people, the world, and life.

The Agony:

My tween has multiple personalities. She can switch from a sweet cherub to a fire-breathing dragon in ten seconds flat. One night she went from laughing to all out hysterical screaming/crying so quickly my husband was shell-shocked for hours. He asked me later if there was something seriously wrong. He couldn’t understand how someone who is so smart and mature usually could be so irrational over something as simple as…wait for it…her sister got into the shower first.

So I’ll be white knuckling through this exciting stage in parenting braced for whatever she throws at me (figuratively and, possibly, literally). The good news is I have two other daughters. By the time the baby is a tween I’ll either be confident and adept at being her parent…or I’ll be hiding in my bedroom.

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