I have a tween. A girl – the most savage of all tweenkind. My goal is to survive. Not win, just survive. When she turned 11 I thought, “I will be able to handle this. She’s only ONE little girl.” Now that she’s on the brink of 13, I realize she is not only one little girl. She is actually 6 multiple personalities ranging in age from 5 to 40…

1. The BFF Age: 35-40.
This woman goes with me to get pedicures, chats over lunch (always my treat), and goes out of her way to listen to my problems and help in any way possible. The BFF doesn’t come around very often but when she does you can hear the angels singing from above.

2. The Sweetheart Age: 5.
This is the sweetest, dearest little girl you will ever meet. She loves to snuggle and give kisses. She will climb up on the couch next to you on any given night just to tell you how much she loves you. She comes around even less than the BFF.

3. The Devil’s Twin Age: Unknown.
This evil twin usually lurks around my house during early evening hours. She looks exactly like the BFF or the Sweetheart but when you speak to her burning acid shoots out of her mouth and does not stop until you flee the room, screaming profanities. Occasionally she rears her ugly head early in the morning so beware.

4. The Einstein/Miss Independent Age: 11-20.
This girl knows everything and can do everything herself. Everything. The easiest way to identify her is by her language. She only speaks two words, “I know.”

5. The Mature One Age: 18-22.
This is a young woman who knows how to handle herself. She tackles chores with maturity. She even does things without being asked. She engages in conversation with adults in a way that makes you consider admitting you are her parent. Unfortunately, she does not come around very often.

 6. The Drama Queen Age: 10-20.
It takes very little for her to believe the world is ending. She only needs to be breathing. No clean jeans to wear? End of world. Can’t find her hairbrush? End of world. It’s Tuesday and she wants it to be Wednesday? End of world. Please note, the Drama Queen can instantly transform into the Devil’s Twin without any warning or notice.

That is everybody living in my daughter’s body. At least for today. I will be sure to let you know if anyone new moves in when she reaches the ripe old age of 13.

Lord help me.
Two weeks ago, we packed up and headed to the Ronald McDonald House to spend the night before C's big growing rod surgery. It was a restless night for all of us, and we were up at 5am to head across the street to the hospital. C got a little upset in the waiting room, but she calmed down pretty quickly and before long we were taken to the back to wait some more, talk to the doctors, and wait some more. At 7:30 they came to take her back and the waterworks started up again...

Over the morning, we waited and waited some more. Others came to wait with us and help pass the time, and around 11:30 we were told they were closing. Soon the doctor came out to tell us everything went great! By 12:30 we were up in her room waiting for her to wake up and be brought up from recovery.

C woke up really groggy and in pain, but the first thing she asked for was her underwear back on! She had two IV lines, a catheter and was hooked up to a morphine pump with a button (which would become her best friend over the next few days). She had to stay flat on her back for the first 12 hours and would start being turned from side to back to other side every 4 hours after that for the rest of the next 3.5 days we were there. She did a lot of sleeping and eating ice chips for two days, and slowly moved up to liquids and more.

On day 2, the brace man came to her room and made a mold of her right there in the bed so he could make her new brace. She barely had to move, and he was wonderful with her as usual.

Day 3 the brace guy stopped by with her new brace so she could begin sitting up on the side of the bed. She was being really brave through the pain, but it was so, so hard to see her like that and not be able to do anything to fix it! It was especially hard for hubby to see her with that horrible post-back-surgery pain, since he's been there himself (and still is every day).

By day 4 she was sitting up with less pain and starting to walk some. The horrid catheter was removed and she ended the day with switching over completely from the IV pain meds to oral.

On day 5 she was finally released and we packed up all the wonderful gifts that her visitors and friends had sent and went home to our own lovely beds.

Since we've been home, she has steadily improved every single day. I went back to work a couple of days later and she and daddy have managed pretty well together at home for the past week. Her home tutor came on Tuesday for the first time and C did really great with her! She will be back on Friday and come every Monday and Friday until she returns to school in another week or two. She does so well with one-on-one tutoring that I think this could really be a good thing for her!

We have had so many friends, family, even complete strangers praying for and following along with C's progress through Facebook and GoFundMe. We have been absolutely blown away by the support from everyone - especially the support from people who barely know us! It takes an extraordinary kind of person to be a lifeline to a stranger.

Like a lot of other families, I'm sure, we have moments where it takes both parents to try and handle some situations. This morning K overslept. You would have thought it was the end of the world. She's missed whole days and not had a problem with it, but for some reason being late to school is apparently one of the worst things that can happen to her.

Her alarm didn't go off. It's happened to all of us, right? I woke her up 15 minutes AFTER she usually leaves the house to walk to school with the neighbor girl. Immediately, the howling begins. She becomes a 2-year-old, sitting in the middle of her floor surrounded by piles of clothes "I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!" Screaming and crying ensue. "THERE'S NOTHING!" I suggest several tops. "I'm not wearing THAT!" Naturally, I lose it. I'm screaming right back at her, telling her she needs to calm down and stop acting like a baby. This doesn't help one bit of course.

I go to the basement and go through laundry, find her another suitable shirt. "NO WAY!" she screams. OMG at his point I'm ready to strangle her. She's freaking about walking in late, having to walk through the gym to take her cheer bag (which a class is already going on, gasp!) We're arguing about how she thinks bullying is so much worse than when I was a kid (NOT!) and I don't understand (YEAH, RIGHT.) I tell her if they're going to bully her about anything, it's the two-year-old tantrum she's throwing, and I banish her to the bathroom to calm herself down.

When I come back upstairs, hubby is talking to her through the bathroom door and gets her calmed down. Next thing I know he's holding her and telling her it'll be okay...

So, when did I become the bad cop? I feel like I used to be the one who knew how to calm them, handling situations like this without losing my cool. Somewhere along the way, I've lost that. While I'm glad they have such a wonderful good-cop daddy to console them, I miss the days where that was me. They ran to me to solve problems. They expected me to kiss their boo-boos.

I guess that's one more thing I need to work on.
I had a moment this weekend. I was standing in a forever long line for the "swings" ride at the county fair for 38 minutes so my oldest could ride. We stood in our own silence as we do, soaking in all that surrounded us. I took a deep breath of the salty-thick air and looked at my daughter. She now stands eye-to-eye with me. A 12 year old in the body of a woman. I can still feel her little fingers tugging at me to be picked up and carried around the fair. She begs for cotton candy and her sweaty arms and legs wrapped around me, piggy-back.

Now there is a legitimate space between us. She leans on the gate, glancing around for people she knows from school. I used to be that girl. Not thrilled to be seen at the fair with my parents. Eager to see friends from school that I hadn't seen all summer. A girl she knows (who is also taller than me), runs up for a hug and they stand there chatting, mom now invisible. I pull out my phone to give me something to do and catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection. And there I am. I am MOM.

Somewhere along the lines I lost that identity of a girl and became MOM. Now, obviously, 12 years ago I became a mother, but this is different. There is a definite difference between being the mommy of a child and the mom of an adolescent. Ugh. This day has come entirely too soon.

Day 28 - Flowers. This is the first hanging basket I've been able to keep alive in a long.... ever.

Day 29 - Black and white.

Day 30 - Self portrait.