The long, coltish legs of an almost-young-woman
A few weeks ago, in a beautiful post called Pretty, Kelle Hampton wrote this about parenting: I don’t have all the answers, but I have good instincts and I love my kids something fierce.
I’m not sure that I have ever heard a lovelier description of what I believe parenting is. Instinct and love. That’s all I have ever had. As Grace’s tenth birthday nears, what parenting means to me has been on my mind. I’m not entirely sure why. What I do know is that in the last several months we have crossed a line, Grace and I. We have walked into a new season together.
I have never had all the answers. Far from it. But lately the questions are different, and I don’t feel like I have any of the answers. I am daunted by decisions about technology, boys, body image, confidence, and identity. For the first time, I confront closed doors and eye rolls. The issues that rise up feel newly fraught, and I’m ever more aware that the patterns she and I set now will take us through into the teenage years.
But, for now, I still get hugs at bedtime and requests to snuggle. Grace continues to love simply being with me, whether we are reading or doing errands or working on a puzzle. I know these days are likely numbered, and I’m sure this is why I hold each afternoon chatting idly as I cook and she draws at the table more and more tightly. My awareness of how fleeting this time is is so keen as to be painful. Every minute contains an ending, as well, of course, as a thrilling beginning.
The mothering ground is shifting under me in a particularly dramatic way right now and I’m trying to find my footing. I have no choice but to trust that the instincts that have always been strong will continue to guide me through. There’s no question that the ferocious love is undimmed. Just as I figured out how to coax a colicky baby towards sleep (though it took me a while, and an ocean of tears) I will figure out how to parent a nascent adolescent. Right? I have to believe this is true.
Love and instinct. Instinct and love. Here we go.
If you have children in the 9, 10, 11 year old range, does this sense of transition feel familiar? Any tips, advice, or words of wisdom are most welcome.
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