My Hoop Earrings and the Grace of a Teenage Daughter

The #skatergirl started wearing my earrings this year. She’s 14 now. Flipping furiously from sweet girl to blossoming woman, I’ll admit I’ve had a hard time keeping up.

growing

Some of the changes that accompanied this transition were quiet and subtle, like trees in winter – patient. Others rolled in like a violent storm no one saw coming – a dangerous surprise with repercussions I couldn’t predict. Both slow and wild the changes are beautiful – all of them.

This is the springtime beauty of youth, the wilderness of her teenage years. Everything about her has come to life. She’s finding her voice and expressing her unique style. She’s dancing to the beat of her own drum – rocking out to a mashup of Lauryn Hill (her mama made sure she knew the greatness of the incomparable L-Boogie), Alicia Keys, Adele, Bruno Mars and the Hamilton soundtrack.

And now, we share earrings.

Her ideas and opinions, the way she is like me and not, the way she shadows my movements and pushes my buttons are all signs of a change as sure as the sun. She’s an independent thinker, a young woman blazing her own glorious trail. She’s changing. And so am I.

It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve watched her suffer disappointment and make mistakes. I’ve celebrated her victories and cheered her through the dark room of doubt. I’ve watched her learn lessons about friendship and fight to establish an ethic of leadership that works for her personality. I’ve witnessed her pain in finding out what it feels like when we don’t tell our truth. To let all this happen, I learned to be quiet.

This post is about all that and more. It’s about how she wears my earrings now – my big hoops. One day, the precious studs and the birth-stoned jeweled clasps weren’t enough.

She wore them for the first-time last summer. When we stopped to take a photo somewhere near the halfway point of our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge I noticed the shimmer of my thinnest pair of silver hoop earrings peeking through the bush of hair framing her face.

She hadn’t asked to wear them that day. She wouldn’t ask again.

We’d been through a string of requests and denials in the months preceding our walk. She’d ask. I’d say no. We talked about why and how I thought they were too big or not appropriate for everyday – none of which were true. They weren’t too big and they were appropriate. In fact, they were perfect for a teenaged girl. I used my position about the earrings as a physical impasse – a roadblock deterring further advancement on her road to womanhood. But it wouldn’t work for long. My #skatergirl, like all girls, confronted the task of claiming her entrance into the club of women that day. It was never about the earrings.

The earrings and the conversation were always about something more. The hoops were a threshold she tried sweetly to tell me she was ready to cross. But I wasn’t ready. I don’t think I ever would be.

Grace and Growing

This growing up thing happens in stages and the earrings are only one part of it. There’s makeup and boys and parties and curfews to negotiate in the future. But for us, it started with the earrings. To be clear, we aren’t talking about full-fledged, card carrying membership. This is the granting of a seat at the table. It is time and I think she’s earned it.

I’m not sure I’d have ever been ready to say yes. Whether I admit it or not, I always knew what the earrings meant. My resistance was part of my development as the mother of a young woman.

Whether I admit it or not, I always knew what the earrings meant. My resistance was part of my development as the mother of a young woman.

A part of me will always want her cradled next to my chest – her only source. The greater part of me delights in her ability to fly.

This isn’t a post about a disobedient daughter and perhaps you’ll judge me for letting her get away without having asked permission. I see it differently. It’s a post about how in the asking, a young woman prepared her mother for the unavoidable – the moment she’d declare – her transition from girl to young woman. It’s a post about welcoming my daughter into the circle of women and how the mother daughter relationship includes a fair amount of wrestling, of leaning and bending. We’re growing everyday into the grace of a God-given relationship. One that is real, and flawed and continues to change.

I’m so proud of her.

So, that day on the bridge I didn’t say anything. I simply told her she was beautiful. Because she was. She is.

***

This article originally appeared at GraceTable.org.


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Lisha Epperson
Lisha Epperson is a hopeful romantic, lover of Jesus and most things antique. A happy wife and mother of 5, she joyfully shares a warrior song about her 14 year walk through infertility and the semi-sweet miracle of adoption. Lisha works out a life of faith with fear, trembling, and a whole lot of grace in New York City. Follow her blog at www.lishaepperson.com, and here for Facebook and Twitter