My youngest daughter will be 13 next week. 13. It sounds cliche saying, “Where did the time go?” but seriously, where did it go? Only a couple of years ago, (it seems) we were buying her Dora the Explorer toys. No, Mom….that was 10 years ago. I must have blinked.
We are remodeling the room she shares with her 16 yr old sister. Pastel purple walls are for little girls, and I will have two teen girls in there now. (Yay me!) While the older girl doesn’t really have much opinion on the color of the walls, the younger girl is a fan of several DIY Youtubers that give advice on decorating, beauty tips, etc. And the purple has been there for the past 6 years, so we let them choose (and agree) on a color to paint it. They chose teal green.
Changing the room from a little girl room to a teen room is just one more reminder that my kids are growing up. For 6 short months, I will have 4 teens under my roof. Then my oldest, who is in college, will be a 20 year old man. Parenting isn’t the “long journey” I thought it would be when he was born, almost 20 years ago. It is a very short journey. Sometimes I am just blown away at how short it has been.
There are times, like any parent, I have lost my temper with one of them, and then I feel terrible about getting angry over something so unimportant. Just this week, I was frustrated with my youngest for making up some mysterious concoction and finding unidentifiable remnants in the sink. She had made up some kind of “face mask” using ripe bananas and oatmeal to help with dark circles under her eyes. She doesn’t have dark circles under her eyes. Although I was annoyed and frustrated, I tried to not be angry about it. Some things just aren’t worth it. There have been too many times I have been too short tempered with her, more so than the others, in part because she is my mini-me. Not only in looks, but her disposition….her personality….her temperament. My mom was right,”One day you will have a daughter exactly like you!!!” And I have told my daughter the same thing.
It’s important to remember we are building people. As parents, we have a short span of time to do this job, after that, they will hopefully be walking around on their own being the responsible adults we have reared them to be. It’s easy to get angry and frustrated over the daily spilt milk, lost shoes, weird stuff in the sink, or the dirty laundry left on the bathroom floor. What do they learn when they see us lose our temper? They learn we are human. Hopefully, they learn how to handle frustration, and anger. When the tire is flat and I need to be somewhere, they learn how to act from me, the parent. We had an old van we called, “The Spudputter” that seemed to always have some minor issue, but just kept running, in spite of those issues. When I got aggravated about it, they would hear me mutter,”I love my van. I LOVE my van!!!” I knew they were listening. They hear what you say, and how you respond when things don’t go like you want them to. They listen, and they learn from you. No parent is perfect, we are human, but we can use those moments to teach, just as we teach good table manners, and how to behave in church. It’s important. It’s part of the package. Use it. Teach them that they, like you, are responsible for their actions, even when frustrated or angry. And if you are like me, and occasionally overreact and get angry over something minor, tell them you are sorry. It’s okay to tell your kid, especially when they are older, that you are wrong. It tells them that everybody is wrong, sometimes. Nobody is right all of the time. And that is okay.
This morning, I got my coffee and went to sit at my table with it, just to find that several chairs were missing. I knew where to look. I went to our girls’ room, and saw the “blanket fort” my youngest made with the chairs, and smiled. I untied the sheets, folded them up, and carried the chair back to the dining room, and sipped my coffee.
Next week, she will be my youngest teen. But for now, in some ways, she is still my little girl.
And that made my day.