My two girls and I went to Target with their little pocketbooks stuffed with Christmas money. Our first stop was the toy section where they picked out rubber ducks for their bathtime playtime. Next, we went to the beauty section where they sniffed bath soaps and gazed at the mascara. They asked, “Can I have some? All my friends wear it!”
It wasn’t until they started looking at the press on nails, that it hit me: We are in the “in-between.”
The in-between season of kids has caught me off guard more than once. It’s that weeble-wobble period from baby to toddler, preschool to kindergarten, little kid to big kid, and now I am entering the tween before teen years…with two girls. My girls are just one year apart, which only prolongs the “in-between.”
Ever since my girls came into the world, people have commented “Bless your heart, the teen years will be so hard for you!” Because of this, I had been dreading the teen season. With two in diapers, pulling each other’s pacis out of their mouths, and one urgent care visit from big sister stomping on baby sister’s face, I would cringe at the thought of two teen girls sharing a bedroom.
Then, my mindset shifted.
I don’t remember the exact moment — it may have been when they were playing tea party for the first time together so nicely after growing out of their toddler season — but I thought to myself, “We can definitely do this!”
The “in-between” seasons can be hard as we are all figuring things out. I remember getting caught up in my own sentimental emotions of letting go, then feeling frustrated at the thought that they should be further along. But what about their emotions while growing through a transition?
They too are letting go of a piece of themselves. My girls are navigating the realization that not every little girl in their grade is still playing with baby dolls. They are beginning to notice what other girls are wearing, how their hair is done, and have started thinking about what sports or activities they want to do when they reach middle school.
My sister and I were six years apart, but I still recall when my big sis wouldn’t let me take a bath with her anymore. At the time, when I was pre-puberty, I did not understand her wanting privacy! Little girls don’t have all the emotional tools yet to help them understand the changes to their body, interests, or emotions. But you do, Momma! You see ahead, you remember behind, and you are uniquely suited now to help your girl through the in-between season.
I think what’s been most helpful with my girls has been intentionally listening to everything they have to say. This is harder with the first transitions because everything that upsets them doesn’t seem really worthy.