I crossed a milestone today. A serious check point on the parenting path. I feel a little excited, a little daunted, and a little tearful all at the same time. Today was the first talk – in what will, I’m sure, be a long line of talks – between mother and daughter about growing up, changing bodies, and taking care of ourselves. It’s not like I’ve never done this before, but prior to today, it’s been pretty basic: wash your hair, brush your teeth, please get all the dirt off before you go to sleep. Today was a little more intentional than that.
A great girlfriend night out led me to look for the American Girl book, The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Young Girls. My husband and I browsed through it in Barnes and Noble after a movie date; both pleased with the straightforward content and yet somehow slightly stricken that it was “that time.” I think that’s what I kept saying most yesterday, “I can’t believe it’s that time already.” I even called my mom to say it out loud.
Other things have led me to know that it truly is that time. My girl is nine, and things begin earlier all the time these days. Several wonderful talks in my Moms Next group have centered on these and related topics – again, stressing that now is really not too early. I can see her growing every day. She’s already the tallest in her class (if you can believe it – taller than two of the moms whose kids she’s in class with) and able to wear my hand-me-down shoes (I can pretty much kiss my socks goodbye too – she’s been raiding my sock basket for a while now).
When I posted on Facebook that I’d purchased the book and was getting ready to share it, there were several encouraging responses from friends with girls of similar ages who were getting ready for the same kinds of Mother/Daughter date with their own girls. One even mentioned putting together some little girl goodies. Goodies! I had to get goodies!
List in hand, my husband and I (yes, I’m lucky and amazed – this man actually likes to shop with me!) headed off to Target to pull together the collection. He found the little makeup case that she’s always had her eye on; I sorted through aisles of face cleanser and lotions, got the all-important wide-toothed comb, debated and then said yes to a sample size of deodorant, added Essie’s sheer, pale pink Ballet Slipper nail polish with a matching Cover Girl gloss called Ballet, threw in some baby-soft washcloths and socks (hey, I need mine back) to boot, and we were set.
And then late this morning, I climbed onto my bed with her and we snuggled down. I showed her the book and we read a few chapters – she got a kick out of it and thought it was neat. I like that the book talks about how the inside is just as important as the outside. She and I talked about how to be beautiful on the inside first – how that will show up on the outside. We talked about the outside basics: the changes that are and would happening in her body; how it is happening just according to God’s design and timing; how all of it is working together to help her grow into the amazing young woman that He has in mind for her to be; how yeah, along the way, some of it can be hard, and how I will always be here to talk to and answer any (any!) questions she might have.
And then I brought out the box.
I wish I could have had a camera to capture the look on her face when she saw it. Is it all mine? She asked. My own nail files? My own lotion. She laughed at the deodorant (really – I get to try this?). These wash cloths – all for me?
I promised I’d even clear out a space in the bathroom for her stuff – something I’d thought about but hadn’t done yet. Can you do it now, Mama, please? I want to put my stuff in there. There was plenty for me to throw out – probably twenty bottles of old nail polish, old hair product, old whatever it was I was keeping in there. And now she has her own official space in the bathroom. Cleaned out. Organized. All hers.
I look at that space now: filled with her cleanser, and her lotions, and her lip gloss.
I’m a little excited, a little daunted, and a little tearful. My baby is growing up.