My best friend’s eldest son and Emily share a birthday. It’s actually the reason she and I met – on a fertility/pregnancy/parenting community website, of all places! Her son, Benjamin, is a couple of hours older than Emily, and as she and I posted and commented on things relating to our pregnancies and growing infants, we also stalked each other’s comments and posts. It was pretty normal behavior though, everyone was curious about how everyone else’s kids (and bellies) were doing. When Benjamin and Emily were nearing three years old, she reached out to me directly because her husband was offered a job in my city. We decided to try and meet in person, and a short while after her family moved down she and I met up at a local park with our kids. Six years later we are the best of friends – and still talking about our pregnancies and infants. 🙂
We’ve talked so much about our kids and our experiences raising them (she’s got two other boys, too) that even though we didn’t really meet each other until that first playdate at the park it almost feels like we’ve been comparing notes since the day we gave birth. Which, I guess in a weird way we kinda were through the website, but for me it makes her the only friend who has not only “known” Emily from day one, but has also been moving down the parenting road at the same pace I have.
And now our birthday twins are 9.
A few months ago she sent me a link to a blog post she’d read from a mom to her 9-year old, giving advice to her daughter on the next years of her life. The post was beautiful, highlighting key points that I also hope my daughter learns and embraces and eventually lives out herself. She called this time in her daughter’s life “halftime.”
I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous now that we’ve officially reached halftime. I’m not sure I’m ready to handle the next stage of raising-her-to-adulthood. You know… get her through her tween years… pre-teen years… TEEN years… then send her off to college to start figuring things out for herself.
Nope. Definitely not ready.
Years 1-9 were easy. Babies are basic, toddlers are cute. I’d taught Kindergarten and First Grade for a while, so I wasn’t worried about those years either. Raising Emily up to this point has been fun – arts & crafts, playdates where I get to hang with the other moms, splash pads, picking out her clothes for her, fixing her hair into pigtails. A colorful, character-filled Band-Aid made any boo-boo feel better.Now she does crafts on her own. Playdates are drop-offs, and I’m not needed beyond getting snacks every 15 minutes. Splash pads are now much larger water parks, where I’m lucky to get a glimpse of her waving at me before shooting down a huge tube slide or as she darts past me headed to another area of the park. And forget picking out her clothes – I have a general sense of what she does and doesn’t like, but for the most part she just throws together a cute t-shirt and jeans. Accessories are a distant blip in her past, and she won’t let me do anything to her hair but brush it.
I’ve been told that now is where raising a daughter gets tougher (although I’m confident that raising a son comes with it’s own challenges). There’s boys and independence, self-expression and the scary, scary “P” word. 😉 There are peer pressures to avoid, opinions to form, and experiences I’m not sure I’m ready for her to have but that might be essential for her to become the woman God wants her to be. Her first job, her first car, her first love, her first heartbreak. And not a Band-Aid in the world that can fix that kind of pain.
I’m as ready as I can be though. I’m just going to do everything I’ve already been doing: listen. Model. Give space. Protect. Teach. Guide. Love. Be present. Be firm. Be fair. Encourage. Care. Advise. And above all, pray.
And, of course, I plan to keep leaning on good friends who are also going through this new stage of parenting right along with me. After all, misery loves company, right? 😀