My second child turned twelve today. She is my first girl. The girl I never knew I would have because I just knew I was going to be a boy mom. I was determined the ultrasounds were wrong. I had heard stories of people expecting girls who ended up with boys and I just knew that was going to be my story. But she came and she rocked my world and turned it upside down.

One of her birthday requests this morning was to go on a coffee date to Starbucks with me. We headed out and I asked if she felt different now that she is twelve. She said yes. She said that something inside her is telling her that she should be more mature.

I told her a story from when I was twelve. I started a new school shortly after I turned twelve. It was a private school where we wore uniforms. Flannel skirts with button down shirts, blazers, blue socks and black shoes. I only ever got in trouble a few times in middle and high school… and it was mostly due to uniform violations (my shirt was usually untucked… scandalous, I know).

A new friend invited me over to spend the night. Her house was beautiful. And big. And really clean. Her room had hardwood floors that were shiny. I think her bed was a four poster that had a canopy. She had a big, beautiful bookshelf desk between two closets. The desk had a built in light. I remember looking around her room and noticing that she didn’t have any toys. No dolls, no Playmobil, no stuffed animals… no toys. I asked her where she kept her toys and she looked at me like I had two heads and said that she was twelve. She didn’t have toys.

I made a mental note that twelve year olds don’t have toys and when I got home, I started packing away my own childish things.

I shared this story with my daughter and let her know that when I look back on that time, I realize that I wasn’t really ready to give those things up. I look at my girls now and want them to hold on to their childhood as long as possible. They will have the rest of their lives to be grown ups. I told her that I distinctly remember crying because I so badly wanted to stay a little girl, but also so badly wanted to grow up. I told her that middle school is hard. Her body is changing. She has hormones. She has big grown up feelings. But I also told her that she is allowed to still be little. There is no shame in playing make believe, jumping in mud puddles, having chocolate icecream stuck to her face after enjoying a treat. She will grow up. She will put aside childish things… but not yet. Oh sweet twelve year old. Not yet. Enjoy this time. Enjoy your last year as a preteen.

Talk to me about all the tweeny things. Ask me about make up… although God knows I am not the one who can answer your questions. Tell me you think puberty is weird. Play with your Barbies. Watch Wild Kratts without shame. Put lipstick on before you go out. Order a salted caramel mocha and scoop up some of the whip cream with your finger. Make snow angels, dance in the rain, write in your diary, swing from the trees. You are twelve. You are beautiful.

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