Today you turned 13-years-old. Yes. THIRTEEN. As in teenager! What in the holy heck is happening? How can I have a teenage daughter? I don’t understand this at all, but it is apparently real life, so I suppose I’d better get used to it.
I have high hopes your teenage years, especially your younger teenage years, will be a bit easier than mine. Because, sweet girl, being a female
teenager is hard. Thirteen is the first time I remember really having the realization that as a girl, I not only had very different experiences than my boy counterparts, but that I had to be constantly vigilant against threats. I think it’s something we all go through as women, but that doesn’t mean I wish I could remove it for you. When I was thirteen, I first noticed older men creepily staring at me in public spaces or at the pool, experienced boys snapping my bra, and other girls turning against me in cruel ways. I had prayed we would be a more evolved species by the time you got to this point, and I suppose we are, but I also know you will have to combat some of these same things. And it sucks. It really does. I’m so sorry we haven’t been able to fix this crap yet, but we will keep working on it, I promise.
Luckily, so far, you seem much stronger than I was at thirteen. You have absolutely no time for sexism, and you rage against other injustices, such as homophobia, xenophobia and racism. You are extremely outspoken and I couldn’t be prouder of you. You are definitely not Little Red Riding Hood…you are the Wolf! I have zero doubt you will change the world in magnificent ways, and I’m grateful to have a front-row seat to the show.
When you entered middle school this past fall, I worried so much about how it would all shake out for you, but so far, it has been mostly positive. While you’ve stayed close with a few friends from elementary school, especially through your participation in the middle school musical (where many of them had a role), you’ve also started to form a new tribe. Your new friends are eclectic, artistic, and creative. It can be so difficult as a parent to know your child now has friends and a life that have absolutely nothing to do with you, and that has certainly been true for me. Middle school was our first foray into independence, and I had to let go and trust that we’d done enough in those formative years to send you out into the world (and on to the school bus) with love.
Your story has officially transitioned. It is very little of mine, and 100% yours. You will continue to grow and learn and have experiences that don’t include me at all. This sort of breaks my heart. But it also excites me. Because you surprise me every day with your empathy, care, joy for life, openness to learn and stubbornness, and I know many of these characteristics are growing in you when I’m not there. I can’t even imagine how amazing you will be in a year, two years, five years…
I’m grateful to have been your mother and caretaker for the past thirteen years. I’m will always be a soft spot where you can land when things get to be too much. I love you more every day. My Lucinda Light…