Love it Up: A Love Letter to Age Eleven

February 7, 2013

^Join here.

 

Dear Age Eleven,

You may not know this, but a few years ago, I wrote a love letter to my eleven year-old self. It wasn’t a conscious decision, choosing that age. Somehow, it was just the age I had to speak to.

Eleven, you are such a pivotal age: a growing-up-but-not-ready age. An age when things a girl has always counted on, her brain and her body and her instincts, seem to fail sometimes.

Things a girl thought were truths are now mysteries.

I thought I’d left you in the dust, Eleven, but now that my daughter is thick in the weeds with you, I remember.

I remember the way I’d suddenly feel so full of things that I wasn’t ready to feel that I thought I’d spontaneously combust, like one of those mysterious cows in Nebraska.

I remember the breasts you delivered, seemingly overnight.

I remember the hair–dear God–don’t get me started on the hair.

The change you bring is a forceful current, smacking me in corners when I’ve let my guard down. Like the smack of my daughter exiting the shower and sullenly showing me evidence of…pube-r-ty this weekend.

I tried to weather it gracefully. I bit the inside of my cheek and enveloped her in a beehive grip and promised her that it would be okay. But it’s not really okay–it’s dang weird–and all of us know it, you perhaps more than any.

I’d gotten complacent and forgotten your power, Eleven. How stupid of me.

My stupidity sent me screaming to the Super-Target on a weekend, in search of bigger bras. I also stood, dazed and paralyzed, in the “feminine hygiene” aisle in the grocery store. I haven’t purchased these items in quite some time and I was stricken at the choices now available. Holy George. Tampons in clever containers that look like lipstick. Pads with wings and advanced super-soak technology. Boxes and boxes of choices that shout, in neon pink and electric teal: “Womanhood!”

I stood in that aisle so long, eyes rolling around in my head, that a stocky pharmacist finally came up beside me and said, “Can I help you find something?”

No, well-meaning pharmacist, you can’t help me and you can’t help my daughter, who I’m pissed off at because I can’t help her.

Eleven=proof of maternal inadequacy.

But I have to get over it, get over myself, because this isn’t about me. It’s about my Roman Candle of a girl who is explosive and fiery and beautiful.

I tell her she’s beautiful because you make her doubt it, Eleven. We need to talk about this someday.

In fact, I shouldn’t even like you, Eleven, let alone love you. But I do.

I love you for colt-ish limbs that still, on occasion, offer a hug and endure a cuddle.

I love you for–after many years of struggle–convincing my daughter that personal hygiene is important.

I love you for hectic curls that suddenly, more than ever, defy gravity.

I love you for another year of a homemade valentine.

I love you, age Eleven, in all of your messy glory. The turmoil and the confusion and the in-between-ness of you.

I love you because your chaos delivers unexpected gifts. Like a daughter who suddenly tells her mother daily that, “I loveyouloveyouloveyou.”

A daughter who leans in close and rests a weary head on a shoulder.

A girl so ripe with possibility that it leaves her mother gasping for air.

Post to Twitter

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Gibby February 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Spot on, Kitch, spot on.

(And as a fellow mom of Eleven, can I just say I’m terrified of Twelve???)

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Gibby,

Heaven help us.

Reply

Tiffany February 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I’m a puddle over her. Because even though my journey with my almost-12-year-old is a little different, we’re going through the same things too. It’s not easy and not fun and really hard on the Mom. Do you think that’s why my Mom is smirking all of the time? Because she’s so thankful it’s not her? Hmmmm…..

And can I just say one more thing to your supposed black heart? You are one hell of a mother who loves her girls fiercely and I love that about you.

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Tiff,

My black heart is really pissed off that motherhood made me care about another human being. Damn you, Motherhood! *shakes fist in air*

Reply

Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon February 7, 2013 at 1:50 pm

You are so making me weepy at my desk. Dang you lady.

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Wendi,

When Miss Libby is at that juncture, call me at the nursing home. I’ll have seen 2 girls through puberty and will be catatonic.

Reply

Arnebya February 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Eleven gives and gives. And then 12 says KISS MY ASS, MOTHER; I’M ALMOST GROWN. Well, not always, and probably not in your case, and not all that often that I’m aware of, but, well, never mind.

Eleven! Eleven is great.

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Arnebya,

Eleven is sorta saying KISS MY ASS MOTHER! I fear twelve.

Reply

Kristen @ Motherese February 7, 2013 at 2:12 pm

What a lyrical, bittersweet tribute to your daughter and to the age that kicked my ass 25 years ago and will undoubtedly kick it again in 6 (and then 8 and then 9) years. Pitch perfect, my dear. xo

Reply

Stacia February 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Boobs delivered overnight? Alas, that fairy never came to my house.

(Hugs to you and the elder Minx.)

Reply

Contemporary Troubadour February 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I think I blocked most of eleven out of my head. And twelve through fourteen, while we’re at it.

As for spontaneously combusting Nebraskan cows? What rock have I been living under?!?

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 4:42 pm

CT,

Dude, you are missing out! Cows are combusting in the Midwest; build-up of ethanol, I think? It’s whackjob. I’m waiting for a steak to somehow get blown onto my doorstep.

Reply

Shannon February 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Eleven has already visited me twice (three times counting myself) and will come knocking again by the end of this year. You are so right. It is a hard and confusing age, especially for girls (and their moms).

And isn’t it some kind of unwritten rule: No approaching a woman near the tampons. Come on, stocky pharmacist!

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Shannon,

I might have even hissed at him.

Reply

Velva February 7, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Your writing goes to a new level when you are feeling it-And friend, you were feeling this one. Love it. Being a parent of boys I have to admit puberty is not the same deep experience. I think I am grateful for that-

btw, writing about the feminine hygiene aisle at Target. Have you checked out the middle-aged women’s section. You need to roam down that aisle. Women have come a long way!

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Velva,

I am so glad that Depends undergarments have jetted into the 2013 stratosphere!Mama had bladder surgery recently (oh my Gaaa. Humiliating as heck and I can’t even tell you) but as the girl who earned the nickname “Leaky” as a child, I am not far behind.

Please escort me down the aisle of…fuckit?

Reply

Jamie February 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Oh man, what a post. I remember my twin sister getting her period a few months before me, and I was so jealous. When I got mine, I realized what I was missing out on (a bunch of bull shit) and decided to hate puberty/adolescence/growing up in general.

Reply

TKW February 7, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Jamie,

Getting your period is the biggest con ever.

Reply

suzicate February 7, 2013 at 8:05 pm

This last line absolutely stole my heart!

Reply

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes February 8, 2013 at 4:57 am

Eleven. Oh god. Eleven. The weirdness, the drama, the bra-shopping, the hormones.
It makes me shudder to even think about it.

Reply

Phoo-d February 8, 2013 at 5:16 am

11 – man does that bring back some memories. It was bad enough that I switched schools at 12 but then found that 12 and 13 were a unique brand of hell that made 11 look pleasant. Thank goodness that 14 is just around the corner.

Reply

TKW February 8, 2013 at 7:25 am

Phoo-d,

You’re right…can we just skip to 14?

Reply

Justine February 8, 2013 at 9:09 am

After this post, and with two girls of my own and tears in my eyes, even I aim gasping for air! (Just beautiful, Kitch.)

Reply

sam February 8, 2013 at 9:52 am

Kitch….this simultaneously brought me back to my awkward ELEVEN and pulled me to my own mother’s perspective. Neither are a good place to be. Knowing that ELEVEN is only a short four years from now, the panic attacks may be starting at any moment.

Thank you. Thank you for your honest writing.

Reply

TKW February 9, 2013 at 10:46 am

sam,

Stock up jon the Xanax, girlfriend. Eleven is coming for you…

Reply

Jennifer February 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

Eleven is truly the age where you are trapped between the this and the that.

Reply

Sherri February 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Teary over this. Remembering my now 17 year old back then – thinking of my preschooler. I, myself, was a late bloomer – all this would have been more like 13 for me, which made me a bit of a dork, I guess :). Funny how we’re all different but the same…

Reply

TKW February 9, 2013 at 10:48 am

Sherri,

I wished desperately for late bloomers. Alas, I think both of mine spring early…

Reply

Anonymous February 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm

My oldest was 11 – they are, in general, younger these days than we were when the growing up begins. The moodiness, etc. – all that – will end, I assure you. They’re still so coltish and cute at this age, though, aren’t they? :)

Reply

Biz February 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Loved this post KW, so true – you think you are so grown up, but you haven’t even begun. My baby turns 21 in a month! I don’t know where the time went. :(

Reply

TKW February 9, 2013 at 10:49 am

Biz,

Awesome Stepkid Ro turned 20 on New Year’s Eve. It was such a jolt, realizing that he was a “twentysomething” now.

Reply

Barbara February 10, 2013 at 5:27 am

Ah yes, I remember. But must confess, I had more trouble with the boys than my daughter. What a nightmare.

Reply

pamela February 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

Oh I love this, I love how honest and unsentimental and lovely it is. Thank you!!!

Reply

elizabeth February 10, 2013 at 9:10 am

Ugh. Eleven. I am wary of people who are overly nostalgic for that time, because I know for me it was the age of being very much out of my depth while being all-too aware of it.

Target-aisle-paralysis aside, the Minxes are very lucky to have you to guide them. Even if the cost is your sanity. :)

Reply

Heather February 10, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Oh Eleven… shaking my head… I hated Eleven. Everyone had boobs but me. EVERYONE. I fit in nowhere. Hormones raging. Eleven sucked, totally.

Reply

Maggie S. February 11, 2013 at 5:17 am

I wish I could have been so appreciative. 11 was a raucous roiling “Something Wicked This Way Comes” with two of them at the same time. It was like wearing metal shoes to work with electrical wiring.

Reply

Lara February 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Oh, I had forgotten all about Eleven. I hated that age. My daughter will be six next month and I suddenly feel like she’s on the fast track to eleven. I’m kind of nauseous just thinking about it.

Reply

Jen @ Momalom February 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm

So, one of the THINGS that no one tells you when you enter this mothering gig is that once those well-visits to the pediatrician stop measuring developmental milestones like crawling, sitting, walking and talking, the development itself actually becomes more marked. I am a few years away from 11. And a few years more away from having an 11-year-old daughter. Thank goodness. Because right now we are all caught up in the throes of 8 and 7 (and even a precocious 4), and it’s all I can do to keep up! Cheers to you, Mama, and to your 11, past and present. Thanks for sharing this with Love It Up!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: