My 11-year-old daughter is a master with makeup. Thanks to Instagram and YouTube videos, she can contour like a professional, her brows are always on fleek, and she knows which colors look best on any skin tone. She has even made her own makeup using all of my favorite baking ingredients. (Did you know cocoa powder makes an excellent bronzer? You do now.)
I really do have so much fun shopping for makeup with her. We select the perfect brushes, buy products to share, and come home and try it all out. Sometimes it goes terribly wrong, like the time I tried to fill my own brows. My daughter took one look at me and said, “Mom, no. I just can’t take you seriously like that.” I have been playing with makeup for over 25 years, but if she says it’s a no-go, then I take her word for it. She’s a beauty expert already.
She totally reminds me of myself when I was her age. So when she begs me to wear eyeshadow and mascara every day, it all comes flooding back to me. I remember all to0 well the deep desire to be made-up every morning. What was in those bottles made me feel better about myself, and I had fun primping. But I refuse to let my daughter wear makeup to school every day right now.
For now, it is just for fun. Experimenting at home or with her friends and her cousin is one thing, and every once in a while I allow her to wear mascara if she is in a concert or talent show, but as far as everyday wear? No. I am making her wait.
I know she doesn’t see the same fresh, perfect face I see when I look at her because she has told me as much. And I also know I could tell her a million times she is angelic, flawless, and doesn’t need a drop of anything on her face, but she wouldn’t believe me — just like I didn’t believe my mother when I was 11, or 12, or 13, and so on.
She can keep begging. The girl has tenacity. I have seen it on the basketball court. I’ve watched her convince her siblings to wait on her. She was front and center the day her older brother learned how to swim. She copied his every move, stuck with it for a few hours, and taught herself how to swim the very next day.
She is determined, but there is something — or should I say someone — even more determined: a mother who refuses to let her daughter grow up too fast.
She has plenty of time. There is no need for her to get up even earlier every morning to “put on her face” or try to get her contouring just right. She is only 11. Eleven. What she needs is to be that age, through and through. She should be sleeping in a little longer, snuggling with our dog every morning, and eating a healthy breakfast instead of applying mascara because she thinks she needs it. Besides, that makeup will run right down her face during every basketball game, every lacrosse game, and every time she out-swims her brothers.
I consider myself a “yes” mom, but it will always be a hard “no” when it comes to letting my kids grow up before they are truly ready. Right now, my daughter is unaware of the decades she has ahead of her when she’ll have to adult 24/7. She can wear makeup then. The stage she is in now — this time when she is still a kid but wants to be a woman — is precious. It is fleeting, but more than that, it is so very fragile, and I’ll be damned if I am going to let her speed through it.
As her mom, I have the final say here, and I have no problem letting her play with makeup for fun, but it is my job to put a stop to anything I can see turning into a ritual she feels she needs to complete in order to be beautiful. She needs to feel comfortable and confident and beautiful in her own skin right now, and then we can move on to makeup later.
As parents, we can’t stop the passing of time, but it is our job to help our children to see that it is fine to act their age, to enjoy the phase they are currently in. There is no rush. And right now, my daughter is too young to be wearing makeup every day, so this mom is saying, “No, not yet.”
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