My daughter walked into the room and asked me how she looked. It was a simple question. I didn’t expect it to trigger the flood of crazy mom emotions that followed.
She was going out to celebrate a birthday with her friends and had spent the last two hours blaring music in her room while she tore through every drawer in search of the perfect outfit. Her bed and floor were covered in clothes she had decided weren’t going to be ‘right’ for pizza and a movie. She sat at her vanity surrounded by bottles, and palettes, and brushes of every shape and size. Staring into the mirror, she painstakingly applied the techniques she learned from those YouTube makeup tutorials she watches endlessly.
I had popped my head in for just a moment to remind her she still needed to wrap the gift for her friend. It was just long enough to see the early stages of the transformation. The next time I saw her she was standing before me looking only vaguely familiar.
This new teenager looked nothing like the one that came downstairs for breakfast this morning. The beloved leggings she wears day in and day out were replaced by ‘just enough’ripped jeans. Her one size too big t-shirt had morphed into a fitted girly floral print with cut out shoulders. On top of that she had taken out her “wear-everyday-ponytail”, letting her hair fall over her shoulders. She not only brushed it for a change, she actually styled it. Her makeup was the right blend of girls’ night out with age appropriate restraint.
The sight caught my breath and I felt time moving quicker than I was prepared for. I notice that happening more these days.
I wanted to scream, ‘What did you do with my baby?”
I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and remind her she was more than just beautiful. She was funny and creative too. Her eyes flickered with hope and anxiety as she waited for my answer. This stupid age of wanting to fit in! I wanted to tell her that no matter what anyone said, she was enough. I wanted to tell her not to compare herself to the other girls. God, please, I prayed, let her know her worth is more than how she looks. I thought about telling her for the millionth time that kindness is more important than beauty.
Instead, I ignored the lump in my throat and focused on the simple question she was repeating again. My mom always told me there is a time and place for everything and this was not the time nor the place to share all the mess in my head. I have to remind myself that not every moment is a teaching moment. I still have time. She’s not going to be an adult tomorrow.
“Mom, how do I look?”
I quieted the barrage of thoughts exploding in my brain and prayed that my voice would sound steady as I responded. “You look great, honey,”I said smiling.
There, I did it!
A solid response.
Sometimes our daughters just need a little validation. Frankly, I am happy she still wants my opinion. Her face beamed with satisfaction. She breathed out a sigh of relief and walked confidently out of the room.
Tonight there would be no arguments about shorts that were too short or putting a tank top on under ‘that shirt.’ It was a win-win! At least for now, her anxiety is not in control. She is. When you are 14 going out with your friends, sometimes you just need to hear you look as good as you feel.
Allison Andrews is adjusting to life as the mom of a teenager which she says is more difficult than earning the 3 Emmy awards that sit in her office. She left a 25-year career in television news to help other people tell their stories and find more time to tell her own. Follow her latest adventures to visit 50 places she’s never been the year she turns 50 at MileMarker50.com