She was 7 months old in this photo.
My oldest daughter is ten years old and I can already feel her slipping through my fingers. She’s still “mine,” thank god – she’s devoted and loving and seeks my guidance and my approval – but here and there I get these tiny, unsettling glimpses into what it would be like in 3-4 years, and I am filled with sadness.
They don’t call them pre-teens anymore. It is now “tweens,” which I hate, but I have to admit that – looking at my daughter – there’s good reason to give a name to those years right before the teen years, right before you lose them forever.
Because you do lose them forever, don’t you? Sure, not all teens have the same need to rebel and to separate themselves from their parents. And many young people eventually find their way back, relearning to respect and to admire their parents. But once the process starts, once the hormones surge and change her, it will never go back to the way it is now.
We love each other so much. We also have a lot of respect for each other. She is smart and beautiful and gentle and caring. In fact, she is one of the kindest people I know. I worry about her: is she too kind? Will people take advantage of her? But most of all, I worry about losing this special connection that we have. I know that the first time she will look at me, and I will see disapproval in those dark eyes, my heart will break.
These days, I am enjoying every single moment with my daughter, and the anticipation of her drifting away only enahnces the joy she brings me now. It’s like savoring the last few bites of a great dish or the last pages of an amazing book… you know it’s almost over, which makes you enjoy the experience even more.
There’s a lot of joy in raising children but there’s also a lot of pain. I guess you open yourself to the possibility of pain and loss whenever you love someone.
I am bracing myself for the inevitable pain of my daughters’ teenage years.