What I Need My Daughter to Know About Turning 13

Dear Daughter,

This is 13. It looks great on you but, I have to admit, I love this stage of your life and want it to go away all at the same time.

Seeing you change and grow and be uncomfortable and struggle is heart wrenching.

Instead of watching you admiring yourself the mirror wearing a plastic, bejeweled crown, I see you tug at your shirt and turn your head when the camera comes out.

I remember when you wore a tutu and sneakers with your favorite pink baseball hat and didn’t notice what anyone else was doing because you were so happy being you.

Daughter who is 13 with her mom
It’s hard to be 13.

It’s hard seeing some of that “you-ness” fade away as you grow up and become so aware of your surroundings.  You feel the need to alter yourself to make others comfortable.

It’s easy for me to tell you not to do that.

Although it’s incredibly hard to guide you to honor yourself in a way that you hear and understand, I’ll never stop trying.

I want more than you know to mother you like I used to; to comfort you with Popsicles or a song or your favorite book. I knew how to do that. But this, this is feeling foreign and hard and slippery.

I keep trying to remember these days are more about you and your journey and less about my need to keep you small and innocent.

Because right now, as I watch you compare yourself and battle insecurities and figure out who you are, I want nothing more than to keep you small, innocent and free of all that noise.

This transition is hard on you, I know. Your world is school, your friends, sports, social media, who is wearing what…and who likes who.

I know because I remember when I was pulling on my shirt and worrying about if I was going to get invited to the party.

I’m glad I have had these experiences to help you, but there are days I kind of wish I’d blocked out the sting that comes when someone rejects you with a dirty look or mean comment behind your back. Feeling left out isn’t a feeling that leaves you. These moments you experience while growing up stick.

This transition is hard for me, too, and I want nothing more than to take any hardships you are going through away, no matter how trivial they seem.

Because we all know high school and growing and changing leaves an impression on your soul.

When I look at you across the room and see my child in a woman’s body, it seems like this can’t possibly be happening. Like, we can’t actually be doing this, right? Going from a mother and daughter who used to hold hands and listen to Disney tunes to having adult conversations as I teach you how to shave your legs.

You are still that little girl who used to spend hours in the baby pool and pick wild flowers and wear sparkly sneakers.

And I am still the mom who used to chase you around trying to catch you so I could comb your hair and rock you to sleep and dress Barbies with you.

It’s just that we are different now, you and me.

But we are still, and always will be, mother and daughter. And I promise I will do a better job remembering that, and less time mourning a different time because I know it’s getting on your last nerve.

I promise.

I can see it’s what you need when you roll your eyes when I ask you if remember those Barbies and playing in the pool and not caring what anyone thought of your baseball hat and tutu.

I just might slip up some days so be gentle on your mama, okay?

With all my love,


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About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

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