Push, pull. I want you, I don’t want you. My daughter is going through an interesting process which is figuring out this whole kindergarten thing. At almost 6 years old, she feels she is the coolest kid around, and that she’ll show her mom and dad just who is boss.
Yet, at the next moment after tripping and hurting her leg, she is crying and in my lap pulling me into a hug as she repeatedly says, “Mommy, it hurts so much. Will you kiss it?”
There is such a dichotomy between my “baby” and my “big girl,” and yet they are one and the same. While she is still trying to figure out what kindergarten is really all about, she is spreading her wings and opening herself to her new Jewish day school community. She’s old enough to be a kindergartener, but still wants her mom and dad to be close by.
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While my little one is just beginning to spread her wings, her cousin, my niece, is further in this process of growing up, yet may be feeling some similar feelings. At the age of 17, just a month shy of 18, my niece is a senior in high school and has already received her college acceptance at the college she wants to attend. What must she be feeling now? Excited? Eager? Curious?
Just as her younger cousin feels these same feelings, it is uncanny how similar their experiences are while they are at such different stages in life. I also wonder if my niece is nervous, apprehensive, or scared. Just as my daughter reported feeling nervous before beginning kindergarten, it would be no surprise if my niece is also feeling nervous about going away from home, and beginning a new chapter in life that will test her individuality like never before.
So what does an almost 6-year-old and 18-year-old truly have in common? Actually, quite a bit. I would say their mothers’ have just as much in common. My sister-in-law and I watch our daughters daily make their own decisions that affect their lives–and we are also part of those decisions when they would actually like our feedback and words of wisdom. We are part of fewer situations where they ask for our thoughts, though, as they are testing limits, and testing their own inner power and strength.
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We, as mothers, are left with the pieces. These are important and priceless pieces of our daughters’ lives that we gladly accept. I only get a brief description from my daughter about her day at school, and my niece only gives one word answers to her mother when asked about her day–these are the pieces. We grab onto these pieces, and hold them dearly.
Just as our daughters are changing and moving forward, we as moms, are also changing and moving forward. Our role as “mom” doesn’t change, but the seasonings that we add to our parenting do change in response to growth and transformation, not just our daughters, but ours as individuals who are 40-somethings trying to define who we are as individuals and women.
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This push-pull will continue, and I am thankful for it. It is a normal part of development that, as a mother, I want to see both from my kindergartener and my niece who is completing high school. This is an exciting part of life for two very special girls, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.