Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I remember when we made this birdhouse together, my daughter and I. It hung so bright and shiny in the cypress tree where we could see it easily from any point in the back yard. Such an innocent time, when she still looked forward to doing things together, when I was really her closest friend and most reliable confidant.

When I asked her about her day and she told me.

That was years ago. It’s old now and no birds ever lived there. The paint is worn. The wood is decaying and the chain is rusted. The bottom fell out two summers ago.

I know that time passes and children grow up. That’s the way it should be and I love watching her change, becoming more and more the person she’ll be as an adult. But I worry.

She’s twelve now and her life isn’t as easy as it used to be. She’s caught in that shadowy, confusing time where up is sideways and black is grey. I think she’s a little lost – trying too hard to grow up, to move into this new phase, to shed her old self and become someone entirely new. I’m not sure how to help her find herself, how to make her understand that her old self is wonderful and beautiful and that her friendship is a treasure.

She’s stoic but really an open book, willing to put herself out there but so easily hurt - always young for her age, a little socially awkward but such a sweet, loving girl. Some of these new ‘friends’ she’s trying to make are so different from her. They’re hipper, more savvy, have already moved forward in so many ways. She wants to be like them, be with them, be accepted by them and this is what I most worry about.

I can see her making mistakes and I want to step in – intervene and fix it the way I did when she was little but I know I can’t do that every time. Things are different now and she’s not a baby. The world is bigger than she ever realized and this is something that she’ll have to learn, to accept, to deal with. It’s just so hard, watching it happen. Not knowing when or where to jump in. How much is too much? When to push and when to step back? These are hard questions.

But then, these are hard times.


lisa said...

My daughter is 11 and I had so many of these very same thoughts last night while she lay in my arms before bedtime and she cried and I asked her questions, and she cried more. I tried to help but I don't know if it did any good at all. She has moved away from those "friends" who are not good for her, but it has left her lonely. Her body has changed and she is not succeeding at the sport she has loved for years. Her teacher always seems grumpy and has punished the class by taking away recess. She feels like nothing is going well. I know that feeling - and I hate it, and it scares me. But I don't want it to scare her. I want her to accept it and let it come and then let it go . . . I guess it is going to get worse before it gets better. Good luck. I will keep reading to see what I can learn from you! Maybe I will write more about it, too.

Kella said...

Just wanted to let you know that there is another mother of another daughter who is on the cusp of these changes as well, mine is 10 and though she hasn't quite gotten to to where your daughter has got to as yet, I know those trials for want of a better word aren't far off either.

Like you I worry about the exact same things and reading your post was like seeing my own worries in print.

I suppose it doesn't help that the times our daughters are growing up in are so vastly different to our own time years ago (same growing pains but different time zones), the world is speeding along at such a fast pace, that we as parents simply find it harder to recognise when to step in and when not to.

Youa re so right when you say: "These are hard times"

Mermaid Glass said...

Oh, Lisa, is anything harder than your kids crying? I can handle tears when they're physically hurt, but not emotionally. That's the worst.

Kella, it is hard. Times are very different - though not as different as it was for my mom when I was growing up, I think. I'm trying to keep up, though. :)

Thanks for making me not feel so alone in this, ladies. I think girls in general are difficult because we're so complicated and emotional at that age.

The worst part for me is wondering if I've done my part of the job. Is she ready? Did I tell her what she needed to know and make her understand that if I didn't, she can always come to me and ask?

Audrey Charlton said...

I am just now a little bit on the other side with my daughter having just turned 16 this past weekend. It is so hard to know when and where to step in, but I think if you follow your instincts you'll know. They really do let you know for the most part when they really want help. I think the best thing we can do as Mom's is listen when they want to talk, not try to force conversation when they are not ready. My Daughter still comes to me and unloads her day, all the High School drama and teacher issues she had to deal with today.

We moved her this summer from Oregon to Texas and she thought the whole world was going to end. She had friends by the end of the first week of school! It just kills you not being able to bear the burdens for them, but they learn and grow from it. I am amazed at the person my Daughter is becoming. She is still an ever changing creature, but grows more and more into the confidence of knowing who she is.

Just the fact that you are aware of what is happen to your daughter puts you so much more in touch with being able to help her through it. You are probably accomplishing far more than you know already!

Just keep listening and talking... I think that is what they need the most. I occasionally throw in a shopping day just for good measure!

Mermaid Glass said...

Such good advice! Especially the shopping. :) I try to do that, too, make time just for the 'girls'. It really is a great way to open the doors a little wider and keep communication flowing.

Rebecca said...

My daughter is 12. Growing up is painful, and it hurts all of us! I just try to be there for her, listen to her, and support her. I always want her to know I'm there for her! I can't believe that we'll just have her for a few more years before she goes off to college. I just think of all the things I want to do with her, all the places I want to take her and how much I have to teach her. I miss the old days!

Mermaid Glass said...

Rebecca, that's exactly the feelings I have. It seemed like we'd have so much time to do and see all the things I had planned but the time just goes racing by.

Cindy said...

Ah, this post really touches a cord with me...your mosaic birdhouse tale is a bit sad. I look at old craft projects like this and wish I had that time back...when they loved to do these things and it wasn't a chore. My oldest is 9 so I am beginning to sense what you are going through a bit. Time does race by when we are having fun!

Mermaid Glass said...

I know, Cindy. Raising children really is such a bittersweet experience. You want to live in the moment and also look forward to all the wonderful things to come, but you can't help looking back. And, when you do, it's hard not to be sad about those times that have passed, wishing you could stop and do it all again.

I begin to understand why some people choose to have lots of kids. You just want to keep reliving those moments. :)

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