Once upon a time, early July 2003, I was terrified. I had just had my first baby. My mom was there to help me, but then something horrible happened.
SHE WENT HOME.
My family lived far away. Like 18 hours in a car away. Which felt much farther as I stood by the window, watching my mom drive away, while I clutched my newborn infant with the realization that I had no idea what I was doing with this human being I created.
I don't think I had ever truly been that terrified before or since.
Something new and extremely daunting now sits in my path. It's like this giant monster that is just sitting there, blocking the entire path, and needs to be dealt with because there's no way around it. And I have no idea what to do.
This thing is called "parenting a preteen".
I AM REALLY NOT EQUIP TO DEAL WITH THIS.
I look into the gorgeous face of my amazing daughter who just turned 12 and I think, "I'm going to mess this up so much. But I don't mean to. I'm just scared. And stupid. So stupid. And I have no idea how to parent you. And I'm sorry. I'm so so so very sorry."
This preteen parenting thing is hard.
First of all, I don't have dealing-with-preteen-emotional-outburst skills. I mean, I understand the physiology behind the emotional outburst. Crazy hormonal changes make for crazy emotional outbursts. That part makes sense. I get it. But I'm clueless on what to do about them.
I'm not really one of those sweet "come cry on my shoulder" kind of people. I'm more of a "suck it up, you're going to be fine" kind of person. This does not go well with preteen emotional outbursts. However, I'm not exactly sure what kind of strategy would actually work, since these outbursts are completely lacking any logical reasoning. But I still feel bad - sorry for not dealing well with your confusing emotions my beautiful daughter.
I also get really awkward. I am naturally awkward anyway. So introducing awkward topics makes me doubly awkward. There's really no word that can describe the awkward that I become. It's beyond the bounds of human speech.
But we talk about awkward topics a lot. Because I want my kids to know that they can talk to me about everything. And the next few years are going to contain SO MUCH AWKWARD. So I'm sorry, amazing daughter, that I'm a giant weirdo who talks a lot and hardly ever says the right things.
I also expect a lot. Because I don't know if I've made it clear or not, but my daughter is amazing. She is gorgeous on the outside and even more beautiful and talented and smart and hilarious and fun on the inside. But sometimes I don't feel like that gets paraded around enough. Because I want the entire world to know all about how insanely awesome she is. But she's shy about it. So I push.
Sometimes I push a lot. Sometimes it's too much.
I'm sorry I push you too much my talented girl.
Having a first child is the hardest. Because no matter what stage they're in, everything is new for everyone. And parents are idiots. And they make mistakes. And even though they try really hard, they will continue to be idiots and make mistakes. And most of them will be made with the oldest child, because, you know, that whole "everything is new" thing. Sorry my oldest child.
This new challenge is so overwhelmingly scary that it will be pretty miraculous if we make it through the preteen years with all our limbs and sanity intact.
And if we do there's just more scarier daunting-ier monster-sized things in my future path. Like the parenting of four more preteens. And the fact that they will eventually become TEENAGERS.
And teenage parenting is a whole other EXTREMELY TERRIFYING beast that I am going to continue to deny until it's staring me in the face (at which time I may be found rocking myself in a dark corner, in the fetal position, while repeating phrases like "he used to love me" and "where did my sweet baby go?" and "HELP ME!").
But for now there are some things that I want my glorious preteen daughter to know: I love you so much more than I can ever express. You amaze me every day just by being you. I'm sorry I'm not a better parent and that I'm scared and stupid, but somehow we made it through that first terrifying time so hopefully we'll make it through this too.
P.S. Please don't ever become a teenager.