Being a parent is hard.
Being a parent of a 12-1/2-year-old girl is even harder.
My relationship with my daughter these days has a lot of ups and downs in it, more so than with anyone else in my life: her almost-15-year-old brother, my husband, my mother. Even my ex-husband.
To say that I love my daughter is an understatement. Add admire, respect, adore. I am in awe of the fact that she is my kid.
She is a lot of things that I was at her age and that I am now. She is funny, a rollerblader, stubborn and, admittedly, moody.
And she is a lot of things that I have never been. A lover of rap music, a could-be dancer, a blue-eyed beauty. Fearless.
This is a tough age, almost a teenager but not quite. Multitudes of hormones running rampant inside her body. Trying to learn to recognize the effects they have on her. And control her reactions to them. Adjusting to her constantly changing body. And the mind that goes with it.
Middle school isn't easy either. It is so much more the real world than elementary school ever was. There are the mean kids. There are the "popular" kids. And then there are friends who aren't always the kind of friends that they should be. And those that are. And don't forget the boys.
But there are also her personal triumphs. Her good grades. The award for her Science Fair project. The closeness she has with the little boy down the street whom she babysits. Closing in on passing her mother in height.
It's not that I don't want her to have the bad experiences with the good. She needs all of it to grow up in to the kind of person she is trying to become. Kinder, more even and able to deal with adversity. Able to deal, most importantly, with the little things. The daily things. When things just don't go her way. Or when her brother relentlessly teases her.
But it is hard.
Hard for me. Remembering my own insecurities when I was her age. Having silent tears when it is tough for her. Wanting to pick her up every time she falls. But knowing that I shouldn't. That I can't.
And it's hard for her. She's never done this before either.
But we'll get there. We are getting there. Together. From "I hate you, Mom" to "I'm so happy that I can talk to you, Mom." One fight at a time. Fights that are increasingly outnumbered by a loving moment baking cookies together to a bonding moment on our rollerblades to a heartfelt conversation about life while lying in the dark in her bed.
It's all part of growing up.