My older daughter turns 12 tomorrow. While she is now on the precipice of her teen years, in many ways, she is already a young woman, who has literally grown up before my eyes in the past year.
She is almost as tall as I am, and her feet have surpassed mine by several sizes. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t mistake a photograph of her for me or vice versa. I even turned around one day in the kitchen to the surprise of one of her neighborhood friends, who thought I was my daughter from behind.
But it is not just the physical changes I have noticed; there are emotional ones as well. She is more independent, takes more responsibility for things and has secrets from her mother. Not big secrets (I hope), but things she now shares only with her friends.
I try not to pry, but I think this is the hardest break for a mother — the time when their daughters begin to confide in peers and stop telling you everything. It is a healthy and normal part of growing up, to share with your social group and become more independent from your parents, but this doesn’t make it any easier for mothers.
No matter how tall she gets (I am sure she will surpass me), or how independent, she will always be the baby I rocked so many nights in her nursery as bitter winter weather pounded our roof. She will always be the baby I slept with in the hospital crib when she was very ill as an infant.
She will always be the precocious little girl who learned to talk, count and read way ahead of schedule. She will always be my first born, in a lifetime of firsts … first words, first birthday, first steps, first haircut, first time on the beach, first bike ride, first piano recital.
Even if she doesn’t remember all of these things, I will never forget them. And someday, maybe, just maybe, she will begin to tell me her secrets again…
Amanda is the mother of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.