Living with a 12-year-old girl is like living with the female tween version of the Incredible Hulk. My cheery, smiling girl who sings her way into her morning shower emerges as a sassy, shrieking, eye-rolling creature that ends up in a teary, dramatic heap before the end of breakfast. I morph right along with her from the Appreciate and Reinforce Good Behavior parent to the Take No Crap parent to the I Know Exactly How You Feel parent.
The emotional pinball is exhausting. Yet, despite all the zinging around, we occasionally bump into each other. There she is on the cusp of young adulthood, straining to grow up and here I am in my 40s facing down midlife, still not quite sure how to define “grown up.” Suddenly we collide and find ourselves in sync, smiling, hugging or rolling our eyes.
To be sure, some of our similarities make me wonder if I shouldn’t be acting more “my age,” whatever that looks like. On the other hand, bonding over nail polish, YA novels and the passionate ups and downs of female friendships make for some of the best mother-daughter moments.
Here are 10 ways this 40-something mom is just like her tween daughter:
1. We both wear skinny jeans and aren’t sure they’re entirely appropriate for the other one to be wearing. My skinny jeans are fashionable. Hers are waaay too tight. And is that butt crack I see? Wait, did she just call my jeans too tight?
2. We both have major zit outbreaks that leave us feeling less than glamorous. Hormones are hormones. They’re just happening at different ends of the aging spectrum.
3. We raid each other’s nail polish stashes. Whether it’s the music, the chitchat or the relaxing hand massage, there’s a special kind of common ground when you’re doing your nails together. Current fave shade: Sugarplum. You can pick it up at Forever 21 for $2.99.
4. We discover hair growth in new and unwanted places. Luckily for my daughter, she can wax her new fuzzies. I, on the other hand, am going to need electrolysis.
5. We both love action-packed, fantasy YA novels with a dash of romance. Who doesn’t like a dystopian adventure tale starring a goody-two shoes girl who breaks out of her boring life, becomes awesomely empowered, fights off malicious and dangerous forces, falls in love with the adorable, sensitive boy and saves the world? Can’t wait to watch the movie together!
6. We both say “freakin’” and “crap” way too much. My little trick of cursing without cursing now sounds a lot like cursing when it’s coming out of a 12-year-old’s mouth. Either we both have to stop or we both get to keep up the trash talk. Double crap.
7. We both use the word “hot” to describe the guys on Nashville (Deacon for me, Gunnar for her). When did she figure out that hot has nothing to do with the weather? Also, is Nashville appropriate viewing material for a 12-year-old? Um…
8. We both think running is a form of torture, not a carefree activity one does just for the fun of it. Now I remember exactly when I started dreading PE and why. Sweat? Gross. Sore thigh muscles? Who needs ‘em? Oh, yeah, right, we do. It’s exercise and it’s good for us. Let’s get matching Converse.
9. We both feel insecure about friends. Yes, I’m an adult, but I still worry about friendships, wonder if people think I’m a dork and feel left out when I don’t get invited out. The difference between me and my daughter is that I have experience getting through my social distress, which means I can help her get through hers.
10. We encourage each other to follow our dreams. My daughter is a kick-ass singer in her school’s rock band and I’m her biggest fan. Watching her up on stage sets my heart to burst. Maybe that’s because singing out loud is a dream we both share. Recently, my fantasy of fronting an all-girl band came true when a bunch of moms got together to perform “Best Day of My Life” as part of a school fundraiser. I know my daughter was more than a little embarrassed, but she still cheered me on. She’s my biggest fan, too.
Parenting a tween is pretty intense. What saves me is finding the sweet spots of connection and enjoying them while I can — even if my butt crack is showing.
Related post: 5 Tips For Raising a Tweenaged Daughter