My daughter is 13. We are in it, folks. I am knee deep in boyfriends, period talk, and attitude. And you know what? I want to tell you something. Yeah, you – the mom over there pushing that brand new stroller. You’re not very far off from this rollercoaster ride, either. In fact, you will be holding onto this movie ticket stub sooner than you think.
And it will be everything.
For so long, I’ve dreaded the thought of having a teenager. Selfishly, I suppose? Hey – if we are going to be honest… let’s just DO IT. I didn’t want to seem old. If I had a teenager, then that meant I was at least 13 years older than her and I didn’t like the way that math added up. But you know what? I’m in my 40s and life is good. The other side of the hill still has cider and Netflix and all the gelato I can eat. So, what’s the big deal?
We’re here and we’re proud! Someone make me a sign to hold at the next march!!
It’s not all easy. Let me just stop you right now because I can see you warming up. I don’t want to paint such a bright orange and pink picture for you. There are bigger and darker things to worry about when it comes to teens. Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. Ahh, who am I kidding? These kids don’t know a thing about rock n’ roll! But with big kids come bigger problems – don’t forget that. Your newborn’s sleepless nights are controllable. They are safe. They are not as bad as you think.
When my daughter goes out, I have to worry about whether or not someone she knows will offer her drugs… or whether or not they will spike her drink with something dangerous. It happened to me. It happens to thousands of girls each year. It is real and don’t you ever forget it.
But pushing all of that aside – the harsh reality of teen life – I do want to tell you something you probably don’t know. Your teen will become your best friend. That is… your teen will become your best friend if you let them.
The last two nights, my daughter and I both curled up in my bed and watched vampire movies until midnight. We baked cakes, filmed funny YouTube videos together, and went shopping online for summer dresses that matched. We cuddled and braided each other’s hair. We even got a mani/pedi together – without the boys. Because that’s what best friends do. They do special things together without the rest of the family. I’m savoring every single second.
Because my daughter is 13. In 5 years, she will be off to college and out of my home.
Then she will be married.
Then she will have kids.
Then I will steal all of her babies from her.
Then we will vacation all over the world together with my new grandbabies and I will pay for everything because I will be the coolest grandmother on the planet.
Because that’s the narrative I want to create.
Natalie is my best friend because she has grown into a wonderful young lady and I see her for who she is. I recognize the borrowed time I have left with her and I want to soak up every last second I can before this section of our lives melts away just like the newborn phase did… just like the toddler phase did… just like the tween phase did. It all happens so quickly.
So, don’t be afraid. The teen years are glorious. You’re going to meet someone magical. Your best friend. She is waiting for you. I can’t wait to see what you two do first.
This post was originally published on Today Parents.