About six months ago, I wrote THIS post about the "joys" of puberty and how I have dealt with all these changes in my motherly capacity as best as I possibly can.
Even though I was mostly referring to Olivia on the above mentioned post, I realize that both my girls are going through the "tween" years (it's called this because it's an age where kids are in "between" childhood and adolescence, they are technically no longer children but are not quite teenagers either). Also, my last post was more about physical changes rather than emotional ones so this time I am shifting my focus to try to share my experiences with the ups and downs of feelings and the minds of my 9 and 11 year olds.
The first time Olivia told me she was crying for "no reason", I knew I wouldn't be exempt from the side effects of "hormonal changes" coming from my tween, times when she needs me to be around but I'm not exactly the person who's going to solve her "issues". There are days when she's randomly cranky, or rebellious or simply sad and unmotivated. There are other days when she wants to tackle all the conversations without any warning; one day she asked me if I could take her to the salon to wax her upper lip because she didn't like having a "mustache" and another time I noticed she had been shaving her legs because they were simply "too hairy"; I don't remember how I dealt with these things as a tween and I honestly don't even remember the role that my mother played in this awkward realizations that probably felt like the bane of my existence back then, but I do know that sometimes I feel useless when it comes to this stage in the life of my girls and when I'm the person who has to go into details about why things like these happen.
I know the stage of boy crushes and girl gossip is closer than I'd like to admit; I am also aware that whether I like it or not, tweens are slowly exposed and more vulnerable to dangerous behaviors because of the false sense of power and independence. I know that I'm not nearly as ready as I'd like to be so I'm focusing on defining the word "reputation" and teaching my girls about why we have so much control over it as early as right now!
Olivia has developed her own sense of style; she likes wearing light make up and dressing like a hippie, she likes art and singing, and joking and friends but she also likes to be alone sometimes and definitely enjoys some privacy. Sometimes I feel like she pushes me out of her space and I don't know how to deal with that but I'm slowly learning to navigate these "tween" years. I'm happy to say, however, that she's an "easy" child and I hope it stays that way...
Then comes Gaby who is my toughest child and also the most sensitive and emotional one of the three. After the bullying concerns I wrote about a few weeks ago, Gaby started having serious emotional issues that included random crying and sweating, repetitive puking and bouts of unexplained anxiety and also a sudden fear of being alone, a consistent lack of desire to leave the house and just overall neediness. I know this isn't one person's doing but a combination of things that have slowly overwhelmed her. Many people approached me with good intentions(which I appreciate tremendously, by the way!) and although I got some great suggestions, dealing with these issues has been a real challenge for me. I have felt helpless, hopeless and overall sad about what Gaby has gone through but I have tried my best at staying informed and on top of it.
Gaby is incredibly shy and mostly quiet and she has a very hard time standing up for herself in difficult situations, which leads me to think that she's somewhat insecure; but at times she's also bossy and demanding and a mix of sweet and sour so it's difficult for me to "label" her.
I know that Gaby is a perfectly normal child, who's probably learning how to deal with her emotions; she so sweet and smart and overwhelmingly loving, but these recent events have made me doubt myself so much. I often wonder if I'm a good role model, a good guide for her, a good advocate, a good listener...and this is all part of navigating the "tween" years and the emotional rollercoaster that they are and at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I really hope these years fly by because I don't like them! LOL!
My daughters aren't perfect but they also aren't the kind of girls who roll their eyes at me or who think that everything I say is dumb...and yes, I do realize they aren't teenagers yet but I believe they're on the right path. I'm a strong believer in the idea that "it takes a village", so I welcome any suggestion, advice, words of encouragement and even criticism to make this easier!