I never knew that I could love the tween years as much as I do. According to many articles I’ve read, most girls who are between the ages of 10-12 begin to have wild mood swings, throw toddler-like temper tantrums over not having the right clothes to wear, spend hours on their phones and are trying really hard to move as quickly as possible into the teen years.
This is not the case in our house. In our house, age eleven is pretty special.
At age eleven, my daughter is beautifully, graciously navigating this season where one minute she can still be lost in an imaginary world and in the next minute she is giving me the scoop on who is ‘boy crazy’ in her class. She doesn’t seem to be in any great hurry to grow up and she doesn’t pester us for a phone even though she is one of the few in her grade who doesn’t have one.
I feel like we are in this glorious sweet spot. She loves to talk with me and share LOTS of details about her day. She still asks me to lie down with her for a few minutes at bedtime and walks right over to give me a hug every morning when she wakes up.
This girl has become my best shopping buddy and we have yet to have any arguments over clothing choices. Our favorite activity is meandering through craft stores where her love of art and creativity means we have to resist buying up every single thing.
There’s no eye rolling yet (that I’ve seen), no deep sighs of annoyance or doors slammed in frustration. There are no arguments over the length of her shorts or how late she can stay up.
There is just this beautiful mix of little girl and young woman and I’m holding onto it for as long as I can.
This year, more than any other years prior, she wants to bake and decorate with me. She wants to have some input in how things are set up and to add her own special touches to our home. So, when it came time to set up our hot cocoa station, she couldn’t wait to make a new banner.
She asked me if she could do a winter-scene on one of the pennants and I’m going to be really honest with you right now. I had a very fleeting moment where I thought about how that would look in photos. I talked a bit about it in my Christmas home tour post recently. I couldn’t remember ever seeing any other children’s drawings as I scrolled through thousands of hot cocoa bar photos on Pinterest looking for inspiration this year.
In fact, I don’t really see anything overly personal or indicative of a child’s contribution to the household Christmas decor when I look at photos from other bloggers on social media either. What I tend to see are a whole lot of beautiful rooms that don’t tell me much about the people who actually live in them.
And this made me hesitate. But, only for a second.
Because there will be a day, probably sooner than I realize, when she won’t want to draw something for me. When the thought of adding her own personal touch to the hot cocoa banner might be met with the dreaded rolling of the eyes.
And I can’t imagine having missed this in my desire to achieve a certain ‘look’.
I would have missed all of the little details and nuances carefully added to the scene. The snowflakes in the window, the picture of a snowman on the mantle and the roaring fire in the fireplace.
I would have missed out on the joy it brings to my heart every time I walk by this table.
And, I could have not shared that beautiful drawing with you. I could have edited it out or only showed you close up shots. I could have just focused on all of the things that are usually considered ‘blog-worthy’. The pretty tray filled with yummy goodies and all of the decorations around it. But, I have a feeling that you would like to see a little more ‘real’ mixed in too. And I believe that the real stuff can coexist with the pin-worthy stuff.
Because, just like an eleven year old, our homes can find the balance between two worlds. They can be both pretty and personal. They can be beautifully decorated and lovingly inclusive of those things which make them ‘ours’.
I never thought eleven would be an age I would want to bottle up so that I could remember it forever. It was always the tea parties and the singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ at bedtime and the princess dress up kind of moments that I thought would be the ones I would want to hold onto as long as possible.
I figured eleven would be more dramatic and angst-filled. And I’m sure there will be some of those days in my not-so-distant future.
But, for now, I’m holding onto eleven.
I’m holding onto this beautiful season where our relationship is shifting from just mother and daughter to individuals who really love to laugh and hang out together. I’m holding onto every last drop of little girl-ness while also enjoying the fact that we can shop for clothes at the same stores.
And I’m holding onto every single handmade creation that I can proudly display because I know that they will soon become treasures of the past.
I’ll pull them out each year and be so grateful that I made room for them amongst all of the ‘pretty’ things which really can’t hold a candle to their beauty anyway.
What are some of your favorite childhood (yours or your children’s) treasures you display each year? I’d love to hear about them!
And for more inspiration, here are my hot cocoa bars from years past!