This past August my twin girls, Macy and Avery, turned ten. It felt like a big deal. Such a big deal in fact, that I have had this very article spinning around in my head for six months and just haven't been able to get the thoughts from my head out in any coherent fashion. Since they will be ten and half the end of February, I figured it's a perfect time to reflect on what feels like a transition for them and for me.
Each birthday that rolls around for my children I find myself vacillating between tears and laughter. I ache for the infants I once held until my arms felt like they were going to fall off, and yet I love getting to know the girls they are growing into. Macy and Avery feel very in between to me. They are still pink bed sheets, stuffed animals, braids and holding my hand. Yet at the same time they are asking to read The Hunger Games, wearing deodorant, borrowing my shoes and rolling their eyes. I find myself acutely aware of their girlhood as I begin to see glimpses of their looming adolescence.
As they make the jump from single digits to double digits with (gasp!) the word teen at the end and I make the jump from mother of little girls to mother of tweens, here are ten and half things I want my daughters to know.
1. Reading is fundamental. You both already have the reading bug and I so enjoy discussing books with you and hearing about what characters you love and why. Reading a variety of books will not only bring you pleasure and allow you to slip away into other worlds, it will make you a more empathetic person, a better citizen and a better communicator.
2. You have a family beyond me, your dad, your sister and your brother. For your 10th birthday we had a big backyard party and I invited not only our extended family but all of our close family friends. Everyone in the backyard that day had a part in getting me and your dad through the first ten years of your life. Some of these people have known me since my childhood, some slept on the floor in the hospital waiting for you to be born. Some of them we've met recently. But no matter how long we've known them, they are all people who love us and who love you. Getting you from birth to 10 has been a roller coaster for me and dad and getting from 10 to 20 will be a roller coaster for you. You may not always want to come to me or your dad for guidance. When that happens, think back to that party and know that you can call any one of those people at any time and they will be there for you.
3. Sports are for girls. I won't go on and on about the benefits of team sports, since you both already know that being part of team is not only fun, but can foster terrific friendships. Always value your body and your physical strength. I love watching you streaking down the soccer field or climbing into the high branches of a tree.
4. Love with abandon. You will learn soon enough that loving someone is a risk. I am not just talking about romantic love, friendship love too. You've already learned that your strong feelings for someone might not always be returned. Don't let that stop you. You will get your heart broken, but I promise you if you never stop loving with your whole heart and putting yourself out there, it will come back to you tenfold.
5. Boys will come and go, but girlfriends are forever. This may seem silly since you are only 10 and it will hopefully be a few more years before you or your friends start spending time with boys. But it will happen. It might be you or it might be your best friend. Someone will get a boyfriend and stop asking you over for sleepovers and it may seem like they don't have time for you anymore. Don't give up on them! You might not believe me, but you are most likely not going to marry a boy you meet before you turn 20. However, there is great value in hanging on to the friendships you form in these coming years. When your friend and her boyfriend break up and she all of sudden wants to spend more time with you again, forgive her and be there for her. She will do the same for you when you break up with your boyfriend.
6. It's OK to disagree. You are old enough to have your own point of view and opinion. Don't pick fights for the sake of it, but don't ever be afraid to give your perspective. You won't always agree with me or your siblings or your friends at school, but your opinion is valid and you should not shy away from expressing it (in a respectful way).
7. Use technology with caution. Technology and social media are fun. I get that. I have a blog for gosh sakes. Even so, you are growing up in a world that I know little about. When I was a kid, we passed notes and then tossed them in the garbage. Don't post anything, anywhere that you would not be comfortable saying to someone's face. The internet is not private.
8. It's not about you. What I mean is that when people act in a way that hurts or makes you feel insecure, it is almost about something happening inside of them, and not about you. I struggle with this one and I try very hard not to tell you you are being "too sensitive" or to "get over it" when you feel hurt. I know how feelings can slice your heart, even if your head knows otherwise. But maybe, it will help you remember that almost always other people are struggling with their own demons, even if they bump into you by accident.
9. Perfection and popularity are overrated. It's hard during your teen years not to look at others and think they have it all. I know what it's like to look at someone else's life with envy and wonder why they get all the breaks. But having a seemingly perfect life and feeling "popular" is not all it's cracked up to be. There is so much beauty in imperfection and adversity. And there is so much beauty in YOU. Trying to be someone or something else will only bring you heartache.
10. We are on the same team. Shocking as it may seem, I am not perfect. You've never been a teenager before and I've never parented a teenager before. I will make mistakes and there will be moments when you want to scream, "you don't understand!!!!!" and you will be right. I won't understand. But rest assured that no decision I ever make will come from a place other than intense, fierce love for you. I want nothing more than you for to be happy and that means sometimes I need to pull rank and make decisions that you may not like.
10.5. You have each other! Even though I have a sister, I have no idea what it must be like to grow up with a twin. I can't force you to always be friends and I'm sure you will have moments where you wish you didn't have a sister. But, believe me, I know the value of having a sibling that you can call to bitch about how super annoying your mother is, or who will be there for you no matter what. I hope you guys know how lucky you are to have each other.
Time marches on and I can't seem to stop it no matter how hard I try. You keep growing into amazing people right before my eyes. I have a feeling we will all come out on the other side of your teen years in one piece. I will end with the immortal words of Britney Spears, "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman... I'm not a girl, but if you look at me closely, you will see it in my eyes. This girl will always find her way."