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Raising My Teen Daughter: Long Days, Short Years

There are pivotal moments when a parent sees their child transform before their eyes. When my daughter became 17 years old, I had one of those moments. All of a sudden, I realized that every ounce of energy I had invested into raising this child—all the worrying, pep talks, listening, advising and even yelling—had worked.

And now, she is grown up and beautiful.

She is her own person—a person who exceeded my expectations. Her intelligence, wit, and zest for life has always, and continues, to amaze me. Sure, she has fallen flat on her face, but she has gotten back up, again and again … and again. Through all of it, I have been there, guiding her, loving her, and mothering her.

Seeing my daughter at eye-level, I realize how fast the years have passed. But I also remember that some of those days were very long. Like the days when she cried a lot as a baby. Or when she went through a phase of biting other kids. I remember wanting some of those early days to go by faster and yearning for more time to myself.

Of course, there are still some long adolescent days when she drives me insane. (She keeps my hair colorist in business with all the gray hairs she has given me.)

The difference is that our relationship has taken on a new form. Now, we talk of her summer away at camp or her upcoming senior year. And we touch on the fact that this will be her last year at home and that she will be leaving for college soon. The college talk makes my heart ache, and creates a lump in my throat.

Yes, the days are sometimes long, but the years have gone by fast and I know how fast this next year will go.

None of us can fully articulate how quickly the time passes, especially during those moments when time seems to stand still. But as my children grow and I catch a vision of my path out of the child-rearing bubble, I am finding the exit scary. Despite the challenges I experienced as a mother, that bubble is where I spent time with my children. I found comfort there, and popping that bubble is not as easy as it may seem.

My daughter’s eyes are different now. There is still a sparkle, but it’s accompanied by the seriousness of emerging adulthood. I wonder if she has had this look in her eyes for a while, and I just haven’t noticed. Maybe, I didn’t want to notice. Maybe, I just don’t want her to grow up and to leave. I do. But, I don’t.

But, I … it is not up to me. She is growing up and she will leave. But, not quite yet! Thank goodness we have another year!

Julie Burton

Julie Burton is a writer and blogger. You can read her work at unscriptedmom.com or follow her on Twitter @unscriptedmom.

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