With My Teen Daughter, I Walk The Line of Being Desperately Needed and Blatantly Irrelevant

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Today I am french braiding my daughter’s hair.

Why? Because she asked me to.

It doesn’t matter that it is 5 minutes before we have to leave for the bus.

She’s a freshman in high school, so the days she asks me to do her hair are few and far between.

It reminds me of when she was little. She didn’t ask me to do her hair then either. I had always wanted a little girl that I could dote on and dress and do cute things to her hair.

She was fierce and independent from day one. From the time she figured out how to dress herself, she preferred to wear mismatched socks and wildly clashing clothes. She didn’t like having her hair fixed.

I would sometime spent an hour doing her hair only to have her rip it out, yelling, “It doesn’t FEEL RIGHT, Mommy!”

She wore her hair tangled and sticky from syrup, knotted up from sleep, smelling like sunshine and popsicles. That was her. Tangled sunshine.

Funny, her name even means “light.”

She entered a phase as a preteen when she often wanted her hair french braided and I was happy to comply. In that simple moment, I relished her need for me. I soaked up every brush stroke, every strand of her darkening blond hair.

Today she sweetly asks me, “Mom, do we have enough time to french braid my hair quick?”

As the mom of a teen daughter, I walk a razor-thin line of being desperately needed and blatantly irrelevant.

I walk that line with intention in every foot placement. Weighing what to say to her that will both support and uplift her. Watching what I say about myself and my husband, knowing that she will model her own self-worth and relationships by what she sees in me.

I give her time and space to be frustrated, angry, annoyed, or upset, and then come to her later to gently talk about it.

I let her feel her growing pains, but not wallow in them.

As I braid her hair this morning, I am transported back to when she was 4 years old and couldn’t sit still long enough for me to finish. “Are you done yet, Mommy?” and “I want to go, Mommy!” and the inevitable, “OUCH, Mommy! That hurts!”

Now she sits patiently, even though we are in a hurry.

She doesn’t complain about me pulling her hair. She careful pats it to make sure it’s snug enough, but doesn’t say anything.

I, awash in a wave of pure nostalgia, want to smell her and wrap her in a bear hug and tell her how much I love her.

Instead, I simply kiss the top of her head as I finish and she says, “Thanks, Mom.”

Oh, my beautiful girl. Anytime.

Any. Time.

This post originally appeared on Faith In The Mess

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