We have been parents for 13 years, 5 months and 27 days. When our first was born, we told the nurse that she really should come home with us. I, for one, was only a little bit joking. Take care of our very own human? Not qualified! And yet, in a series of small accumulated miracles, here we are.
Mothering a Tween
Last Friday, Adrienne’s tutorial group held a dance. She and I spent a sweet afternoon together as mother and daughter. We share a definite love for accessories, dresses, and events that call for glam. I taught her a few tricks and tips as I blow dried and curled her hair. I polished her fingers and toes with the perfect shades of magenta and cobalt. Finally, I zipped her dress and opened the box that held her first pair of high heels. Actually, I suggested that she walk around the house first to get accustomed. She replied, “Mom, I’ve been walking in your heels since I was 4!” You got me there, babe.
“The Talk,” Brendtro Style
Also, I improvised version 13.5 of the Bodies-Boys-Boundaries speech. This is the same one I started composing during bath times when she was a toddler.
This speech grows with her, rather than a one and done approach. Here is how it tends to go, generally, (except this time I added to only dance with the middle school boys.)
- You alone are the owner of your body.
- Secrets are for birthdays, not bodies.
- Stay with the group, always, because there’s safety in numbers.
- Know this: not everyone is a good person.
- Listen to your heeby jeebies. We will back you up.
- If someone is making you uncomfortable, you don’t have to be polite and you should never be quiet.
- Your voice is your first line of defense, so make it firm.
- Lastly, you’re a Brendtro. You are our priceless gift and you have hope and a future. Model your character and make your choices from that home base.
The older Adrienne grows, I keep adding more details and more advice. Lately I have begun to wonder, am I saying this right? Am I missing anything, or is this too much too soon? However, this is what I am sure of: Our bodies are our most precious asset. As a mother, I am first in line to actively empower my daughter to be her own keeper. Fellow parents, listen up: less is NOT more when it comes to daughters.
It’s Not What You Think
To be honest, I don’t have many memories from my childhood and when I do, they are like hot potatoes. I felt lonely and overlooked for the most part. I walked through my early years with a hole in my core. Things happened to me that could have been avoided.
In my 30’s I had a breakthrough moment where I grasped that it was not my fault. Shame was riding on my shoulders like it owned me, and it finally slipped off for good. It no longer has power to pull my reins or shut me down. I ceased listening to its lies, from then on. I am valuable beyond measure to my Father God. This undeniable, absolute truth is what fuels and directs me.
Hear Me Roar
My mantra now is, “be the person I needed when I was younger.” So yes, I will mother like a mama bear. I will spell it out, maybe too clearly, and won’t shy away from touchy subjects. I have, and will continue to, answer all of her questions as they come. Directly and without blinking, even the shocking ones. I will confront any person who dares to question or cross boundaries. There is no time for fear and no room for shame.
Sometimes these sweet milestones with Adrienne dredge up private pain for me. That is true. But also, I am so incredibly grateful for each opportunity to give our daughter fresh evidence of her value. It’s another chance to be wholehearted — fully present and hands-on. Each time, it heals another piece of my soul, like righting a wrong.
The Whole Family
Adrienne is turning into a stunning, vibrant woman. I am the luckiest woman alive to have a real hand in that, and a front row seat. And I am thankful beyond words for the partner and co-parent in my life, Steve. I couldn’t do half as good a job without her brave, selfless, strong father. I never have to remind him to step up to the plate and he never misses a chance to cheer on the women in his house. The last part of my speech is always, “… and when you are ready for a relationship, find someone just like your dad.”
*An excellent resource that I discovered as a young mom is Teaching the Birds and the Bees Without the Butterflies by Traci Lester.