A Whole New World

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I have a teenager. That should not come as a huge surprise, my daughter is fourteen, technically she has been a teenager for a year and a half, logically I know that. It just never computed. When I look at her, all I see is my little girl. The one who needs me to make her lunches, brush her hair, cut her chicken, tie her bows-you get the picture. I see her as the child who needs me. That’s the way I want to see her. 

This summer that changed. She went to camp, like she always does. When she got off the plane my heart jumped. I’m sure I must have gasped out loud. The person who approached was not a little girl at all! The person I put my arms around was a beautiful young lady. She was two inches taller- which officially made her taller than I am! She had lost the last bits of any baby fat she might have had, she was confident and happy, and she was absolutely beautiful!

I watched her over the next few days and my emotions went in so many different directions. She held herself differently, she was confident where she used to be unsure, she had friends and a life that I was not really a part of. She’s having her own adventures and I am not included in them anymore. 

The reality hit me hard. She’s growing up and growing away. I’m watching her making plans and going out. I’m looking at the pictures of her with her friends. It brings back memories of my own high school days. I remember feeling so grown up. I remember weekends spent with friends and I remember all the experiences that helped to shape me in to the person I am today. Part of me is grateful, for the friends that she has made and for the ability to provide the activities she is experiencing. Part of me is so proud and happy, to watch her grow and make her own decisions. Part of me feels blessed, that she still talks to me about what she is doing and who she is spending her time with. Part of me is sad, she is growing up and growing away and I can only stand back and give her the space she needs to do it. To be honest, part of me is jealous, her friends are becoming more important to her than I am. Their opinions often take precedent over mine. This is how it should be. This is totally natural and normal, it’s what I always wanted for her. I just didn’t know it would be painful. I didn’t realize how it would feel to watch her run out of the door and go and live her own life. I miss my little girl while, at the same time, I am thrilled to see how my daughter is growing and changing. 

I hope she realizes that no matter how much she grows, or how far she roams, I will always be here watching and waiting. No matter how big she gets, she will always, always, be my little girl. 

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Shifra Glassman
Shifra is originally from Virginia. She went to high school in Silver Spring, MD and lived in Jerusalem for 7 years before making her way to St. Louis in 1992. She has come to motherhood through adoption, fertility, fostering and teaching. She is passionate about children's rights and will advocate to make sure each child gets what they need to succeed. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and, later, domestic abuse. She uses her experiences to educate others and to help victims feel safe to come forward and share their stories. She is an active member of the orthodox Jewish community and resides in University City.

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