Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walking in Her Shoes

Can you wear your daughter's shoes?
I mean, is she old enough that you can conceivably slip on her shoes?
A few weeks ago I was racing out the door and unable to locate my own tennis shoes, I slipped on my daughter's shoes. At the precise moment I put on her shoes I was so happy to FIND a pair I didn't consider that she was old enough to have shoes big enough to fit her Mama. Since the day I borrowed my daughter's shoes I've thought a lot about the new season of motherhood I find myself in. I've gone from lamenting her march toward adolescence to confronting and embracing my new motherhood role. As much as I would like to resist and ignore the season of adolescence upon us I would be doing her (and me, and my husband) a huge disservice if I didn't confront and embrace the natural changes going on with our daughter. Once you slip on your daughter's shoes there is no denying her growth and maturity. She is on the precipice of puberty. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.

During carpool I look over at my daughter who now sits in the front seat and I see a healthy, active (usually happy) tween whose legs are as long as mine, with shoulders just as broad. Our time together these days is different....I try and talk less and listen more. I open my arms to her hoping she'll rush in and as often as she collapses in my arms, she is batting and pushing me away. She is beginning to change physically and mentally. I've known adolescence was on the horizon but until life flings you over the threshold, whether you want to be there or not, a parent can't predict how they will react. As I envision us being thrown over the next threshold of life my daughter is in front of me....her long golden-brown hair is blowing in the wind and her arms are outstretched--open wide, ready to accept the joys and challenges coming her way. In my mind, I see myself behind her and I look like a scared crazed cat. The hair all over my body is bristled. I am disshevelled and reaching desperately for her. I want her to look back at me but she only looks forward, and who can blame her...I'm a scary sight.

I've thought a lot about my visual.....okay, I've been dwelling on my visual in fact. How can I be the person I want to be for her. How can I respond better when she has an emotional outburst. How can I react better to the mantra of "I want" "I want" "I want?" John and I know the power of "No" and use it liberally. Sometimes, however, setting boundaries for your children can leave a parent feeling lonely and isolated. Setting boundaries is a personal family matter. John and I respect other families boundaries. Not all parents do.
I had the opportunity to discuss raising girls and setting boundaries with two friends (both of whom have daughters older than my oldest) during a recent road-trip to Jackson. I respect and admire both of them for varying reasons, most of all because they are resolute and unapologetic in who they are as individuals and as mothers. After our 3-hour discussion I concluded that I was not a scared crazed cat after all. I know exactly what I want for my daughter. I'm not off-base in my boundary setting. I know what I think is age-appropriate. And I'm mindful to respect other families boundaries and parenting decisions. I may not know the correct path through adolescence but I have a duty to my daughter to act like the adult, think like the adult and reason like the adult....at least that's my goal.
And the scared crazed cat? My husband and a few close friends can handle her....they love cats.

4 comments:

  1. Wow...I was on the brink of needing a tissue myself thinking about ER growing up...I remember, so vividly, the day she was born!! And now she is a tall, beautiful young lady...I can't believe how mature she is when I talk to her on the phone. At times, I even get a little misty eyed after talking to her and hearing about all of her activities...what an absolutely beautiful girl!! Then...the interruption came...my daughter got herself stuck under her highchair...the scream meant assistance from Mama was required!! So much for that moment!!

    You are doing a fabulous job in this new chapter...please take notes, highlight the important things and keep it safe & sound...I will be needing the guidance in about 9 years!!

    Love y'all...have a wonderful spring break!!

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  2. Really she's at a fun age--I'm just beginning to understand why the wrinkles appear!

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  3. boy can i relate. i put leigha's boots on to run out in the snow b/c mine were still wet and in the garage. and my toes weren't even terribly cramped. (sigh) there are days where I enjoy the 'grown-up-ness' of this age, and other days where all I want to do is go curl up somewhere and just praypraypray for wisdom, tolerance, and for her to change her attitude! unfortunately, i know she will change and grow up even more far to quickly for my liking so I just count to ten, say a prayer that will do for the moment, and try not to dig a deeper hole. I am,after all, not 14 anymore. THANK GOD! And as such must act like the 39 year old that I am. Problem is, I've never been 39 before, raising a 14 year old, so we'll just have to work it out as we go!
    Anyway, sorry to ramble. Just wanted to say thanks for causing me to stop and be thankful for a moment. Thankful that the boots are still in the foyer ready for me to slip them instead of residing somewhere far away from me...

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  4. Hey DD (Mrs. Barfield)--we welcome your wise counsel and advice, parenting a precious 14 yr. old daughter! We Mamas must stick together....it takes a village. AGree on curling up somewhere to pray, pray, pray--and this can be kind of a lonely feeling sometimes, since we are now the adults! The hands and feet of Christ help guide me when friends and mothers who I trust and respect are willing to share their experiences...thanks for sharing!

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