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  • Writer's pictureTina

I Wish I Were Five Again...

As I sit staring out the living room window, my view is filled with blue skies and fluffy white clouds. A large decorative crab apple tree is beginning to bloom with pale pink blossoms. Singing birds sit in its branches, reminding me of the ever-changing seasons. This reminds me that, like it or not, time continues to move forward. This has been a year filled with growth and change. Along with growth comes growing pains. With change comes discomfort and longing for what was.

This year, I remodeled The Bean's bedroom. We packed up all her storybooks and placed them in the attic for safekeeping. Her childhood momentos were safely packed away so that someday, when she is ready, she can revisit them and relive the fond memories we have created as a family. Our dear friends made us an offer to purchase her swing sets, reminding me that "you don't need them anymore." My girl has plans to turn her doll furniture-filled, fairy-themed playhouse into a "beach-themed hangout." Sigh. Change does indeed hurt.

As my darling girl turns into a young woman, her dreams and goals she carried with her as a child also grow and change. When she was small, really, just a few short years ago, she wanted to attend IUP and commute to school so she could stay home with us. She felt that attending the college her dad and I attended was important. When she was small, family traditions were very important to her. Now, as a young adult, she is thinking in broader terms. Attending college in Florida appeals to her. She now believes that moving at least two hours away from home is a must to have "the full college experience." It does not escape me that part of this is my doing. I have always encouraged her to dream big. I've reinforced the idea that the world is her oyster, and she merely needs to pluck the pearl of her choice. I have repeatedly stated that she "needs to stand on her own two feet, and when push comes to shove, she needs to know she can take care of herself and those she loves." I have pushed the idea of independence, self-worth, and inner strength.

Little did I know how soon those ideas would come to fruition. I also did not understand the angst that would accompany my child's search for independence. Sigh. It is becoming quite clear that as my child grows, so do her problems. I knew from my experience in the classroom that ninth grade is a challenging year. I have cherished and thoroughly enjoyed every stage of my daughter's life. I have always viewed her as a priceless gift to be treasured. It does not escape me how very blessed I am to be gifted the opportunity to be her mom. I continue to believe this, but this year has been a doozy.

There isn't anything out of what I consider typical teenage shenanigans and teenage angst. Social dilemmas, boys, making questionable choices, and school are all part of growing up. I have told my daughter her entire life that making mistakes is how we grow, and I believe this to be true. I, of all people, know a lot about making mistakes. What I was not prepared for was how difficult it would be for me to see my girl struggle. As a parent, it is HARD to watch one's child work through stress, anxiety, pain, and insult. It takes every fiber of my being not to go "mama bear" and swoop in to fix things for her. However, I also recognize that sometimes I need to listen, be a sounding board, sit quietly, and not offer advice.

During a recent difficult situation, my darling girl curled up beside me, cried, and told me she wished she were five again. Oh, to return to the days when choosing a story to read at bedtime was the greatest dilemma. I shared with her that I, too, miss those days, but watching her grow into a strong, brave, independent young woman is so exciting and rewarding. How can it be that my heart breaks for her, but I also am so excited to see what the future holds for her? I communicated that I am so proud of her for who she is becoming, and this will be an ever-changing, ever-evolving process. It is so painful to do hard things. It hurts to know your choices and feelings will hurt someone else, but it is so important to honor your feelings and do what is right for you. Her strength and bravery amaze me.

She will change her mind at least a dozen times before she settles upon a career choice and a college. She will have her heart broken and break hearts as well. I know that one of those hearts will probably be mine, and that's okay. I, too, will long for the days when she still needed me for reassurance, safety, and comfort. However, watching her grow in confidence, reassurance, and self-trust is rewarding. I want her to believe she can do anything. I want her to understand that sometimes, doing what is hard is the best choice. Most importantly, I want her to trust her abilities and know her self-worth. I pray she moves through life with grace, dignity, empathy, and sympathy.

On this beautiful spring day, stay safe and be smart. It's okay to wish you were five again. Trust the process. Bad days don't last forever, and keep washing your hands.

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You are doing an amazing job!!!

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