52 with a 12 year old

It’s been exactly ten years since I began this blog and wrote about being 42 with a two-year-old.

A lot has changed in the past ten years. Motherhood looks very different these days.

For one thing, the little baby we called Zoe at birth changed her name to Journey last year after first trying out Xage. Z also went through a period of using they/them pronouns but is back to using she/her.

E and I both felt the name Journey suited her so well. And why shouldn’t we each be able to choose our own name?

Then, just this past month, Z decided she’d like to go back to using her birth name again. Talk about a full-circle moment.

So, it’s now 2022. I’ve been blogging here for ten years. Z turned 12 this year and I just turned 52.

As a middle-schooler, Z is far more interested in hanging out with friends or secluding herself in her room to listen to music or Facetime with friends. Spending time with us parental types is pretty much last on her list.

To contrast that with ten years ago, when Z was two… well, let’s just say it’s the complete opposite.

Two-year-old Z was all about spending time with E and I. In fact, since we were still nursing at that point, she and I were pretty much inseparable whenever I wasn’t working.

On some level, I miss those toddler days. I miss feeling like my kid liked, loved and wanted to spend time with me. I know this stage of tween and teen development is inevitable, normal and age-appropriate, but I still miss feeling like my kiddo wanted to be around me.

That said, toddlers are like dogs in that they need us constantly. Tweens and teens are more like cats because they may not need us, but they occasionally choose to be around us.

When your tween opts to spend time with you, it’s truly an honor. It’s the best gift in the world – it feels like when a cat graces you by sitting in your lap.

In the ten years since I wrote that 42 with a two-year-old post, we’ve learned so much about Z that has helped us be better parents and guides to her.

We’ve learned that Z is a highly sensitive child, for one. We’ve also seen her receive a couple of mental health diagnoses, which helps us to be more in tune with her needs. We’re currently waiting for another medical evaluation which may help us even further.

Perhaps the best thing that has happened over the past ten years has been seeing Z grow into her sense of self. I may be biased, but I think my kiddo is the absolute coolest. She is independent, confident, creative, compassionate, thoughtful, bright, funny and quick-witted.

Parenting Z and seeing how brave she is has helped me to grow and become braver, too. When I see her face her fears and rise above her anxiety, it inspires me to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person.

Parenting a child like Z is a little bit like being the first to go into space. She is such a unique and neurodiverse child that typical parenting techniques and methods simply do not work. We’ve had to forge our own parenting path with Z as our north star.

I can’t even begin to envision the amazing steps Z will take in the next ten years. What will it feel like when I revisit this post at the age of 62 and gaze at the beautiful, bold 22-year-old kiddo by my side?

What I want for Z in the next ten years: to be happy, healthy and continue living into her best, boldest and truest self. To continue her education and find a career path that plays to her strengths and fulfills her so much that it doesn’t even feel like work. To finally have the independence she has wanted for so long. To still be close with her dad and me – as close as she’ll let us be!

What I want for me in the next ten years: to continue refocusing my attention and love on my darling husband, who has been a little bit neglected ever since we became parents. To continue to grow as a human being, a writer, a mom and a wife. To finally publish one or more books that are successful enough that my hard-working hubby can finally take a break and work a little less!

Here’s to another amazing, unforgettable decade together. May this one be even more special than the last.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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