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In My 8-Year-Old Daughter's Shoes

I'm doing my best to teach her that it's alright to be honest with me about her feelings, even if it means that mine might get hurt. I hope that I'm doing it right, and that I don't forget that I was once in her shoes, and that my mother was once in mine.
Portrait of smiling Caucasian daughter holding hands with mother
Portrait of smiling Caucasian daughter holding hands with mother

I have vivid memories of what it was like to be 8. I can still remember how it felt to curl my tongue into the gaps of my missing teeth. I remember suddenly feeling butterflies in the pit of my stomach while talking to a boy in my class that I had known for years, unsure of why I was having those funny feelings. I remember feeling self-conscious about my knobby knees, and I can still remember conversations that I had with my best friend.

My oldest daughter is now 8, and I can't believe that I'm the parent of an 8 year old. Now that she's at an age that I can remember, parenting somehow feels a bit different to me. My daughter is developing her own personality, experiencing feelings and emotions that I can remember feeling, and I feel more confident as a mother - because I once walked in my daughter's shoes.

Sure her experiences as an 8 year old are different than mine were, but I'm hoping that I can help her to navigate through the confusing, exciting, overwhelming, challenging waters as she transitions from child to tween.

The challenge though, is that as she matures, I feel as though my status as "mom" in her eyes is maturing as well. I feel like I'm slowly moving from mom-with-an-enthusiastic-exclamation-mark, to mom-with-a-sarcastic-eye-roll, and I know that it'll only get more difficult as she moves towards her teen years.

I can still remember suddenly feeling a tinge of embarrassment when my mom kissed me goodbye in front of my friends at school. I can remember rolling my eyes when my mom interrupted my friends and I during a play date, and I can remember crying in my pillow, convinced that my mom was ruining my life because I couldn't watch TV until my homework was complete.

But I also remember feeling confused about my feelings towards my mom. I remember feeling guilty when I pulled away as she leaned in to give me a kiss, or rolled my eyes, not completely understanding why I was suddenly being so mean to the woman who I looked up to the most. I was suddenly annoyed by my hero - my best friend, and I didn't understand why.

I'm learning that it's important to give my daughter the space that she needs to mature. I need to be more conscious of how I speak to her and act around her in the presence of her friends, and most importantly, I'm realizing that it's more important now than ever to establish a trusting relationship with her that goes beyond the because-I-told-you-so status of mom.

I'm doing my best to teach her that it's alright to be honest with me about her feelings, even if it means that mine might get hurt. I hope that I'm doing it right, and that I don't forget that I was once in her shoes, and that my mother was once in mine.

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