By Laura Booz
Every time I hear Nichole Nordeman’s song “Slow Down,” I cry ugly, ugly mommy tears. Nordeman sings “slow down” to her child who, like all children, seems to be growing up too quickly. It’s beautiful, nostalgic, and heartbreaking. (Have you seen the music video? Get the tissues ready!)
The chorus is:
Won’t you stay here a minute more
I know you want to walk through the door
But it’s all too fast
Let’s make it last a little while
I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly
I am your biggest fan
I hope you know I am
But do you think you can somehow
Can you relate? This song strikes a chord with me because my eleven-year-old daughter is growing up quickly. Her curly blonde baby hair has transformed into a long, straight brown. She does all of her math homework on her own. She makes friends and has plans and thinks deeply about God. She is in a wonderful season of life!
They say that when our girls are in elementary school, they are in the Golden Age of Childhood. They are growing and learning, playing and exploring, riding bikes and star gazing. To be honest, in this season of life, my tween is easy for me, which - sadly - makes it easy for me to overlook her.
I’m sure my daughter wants me to savor her childhood, to be present, and to be connected with her, but I’m often consumed by my task list or other demanding relationships. I’m busy tending to the tyranny of the urgent. In our family of eight, the baby, the toddler, and the teenager take most of my energy, focus, and time. Add to that work and ministry - not to mention personal health - and you have days that go by without me connecting with my tween. But my call to disciple, embrace, and love her is just as urgent as everything else. I want to heed the advice of the old ladies who stop us in the grocery store and say, “Savor it!”. I want to notice my tween, hug her, and spend time with her. She might be growing up quickly, but to be honest, I’m the one who needs to slow down.
I’m the One Who Needs to Slow Down and Make it Last
God cares about overcommitted, distracted, busy moms. He’ll give us mercy, wisdom, and help to treasure and invest in our sweet girls here and now. Today, I’m sharing a handful of ways that I aim to connect with my daughter each day. Perhaps you could try them out, let me know what you think, and share your own ideas in the comments. I’d love to learn from you!
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
Here are five possible ways to make the most of your daughter’s golden age of childhood.
1. Thank God for Your Tween’s Special Moments
Sometimes, I rely on social media to validate my memories, as if posting a quote or a photo will add permanence and eternal meaning to the things I want to hold onto forever. I’m learning, though, that God alone is the source of permanence and meaning. I’ve begun to log my memories with Him through gratitude. When I see something in my daughter that is beautiful, delightful, humorous, or inspiring, I treasure it in my heart and thank God for it. Gratitude slows the moments down and guarantees that even when these precious moments slip through my fingers, they slip right into God’s hands where they will never disappear.
2. Smile at Your Tween
“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
I believe in the power of the smile. Your beautiful smile will connect you with your daughter in a miraculous way! Even if she’s busily coming in the door from school and heading back out for soccer practice, you will connect with her through your smile. Smile at her in the morning. Smile when she walks into a room. Smile when she tells a joke, acts like she’s 5, or acts like she’s 25. Your smile is one of the most powerful ways to show her that she has infinite value, integrity, and worth. It will show her that you delight in her.
3. Listen to Your Tween
Whether your tween is already struggling with complicated issues or is happy-go-lucky, look her in the eye and pay attention when she is speaking to you. Listen with your whole heart to her dreams for the future or her dreams from last night that make no sense at all. Support her in conversation by asking questions that show you are interested, but mostly demonstrate that you’re just content to listen to her.
4. Share an Experience with Your Tween
Push back against the tyranny of the urgent and look for opportunities to share an experience with your tween daughter. You don’t have to buy tickets to an expensive concert or take her to a resort for the weekend: simply snatch the little opportunities that add up into a rich relationship.
- When you open the pantry to grab a piece of chocolate, grab two and give one to your girl. Sit side by side and savor the sweet treat.
- When you are running an errand, ask her to come along so you can listen to music that she likes.
- When you’ve learned something from God’s Word, share it with her at the breakfast table or in a little note.
- Ask her to join you on your morning walk. Point out your favorite view or show her the house in the neighborhood that sparks your curiosity.
5. Rest with Your Tween
Relationships grow deep roots in the slow moments of life that don’t have an agenda or a need for accomplishment.
- Treasure the times when you and your girl can lay side by side across the bed.
- Grab a blanket and lie on your backs looking up at the stars.
- When she is slowly munching her toast and staring out the window, take her lead and let yourself linger at the breakfast table for a few precious moments before tackling your to-do list.
Tween girls are very good at resting, creating, playing, dancing, daydreaming. When you notice your daughter doing this, join in.
In their beautiful God-given childhood, hear our daughters singing to us,
I am your biggest fan
I hope you know I am
But do you think you can
May God open doors of opportunity for you and me to treasure our daughters this week. It will be sweet to our souls, all around, and it will be a picture of God’s love for them. What a gift! What a possibility!
Author Bio: Laura loves to learn and share practical encouragement with other homeschooling moms. She lives with her husband and 6 children on a farmette where they sing, raise chickens, host campfire parties, and read books. Laura is a member of the Church, a friend, a writer, and a teacher. Most of her writing focuses on homeschooling, marriage, motherhood, and ministering in the local church. She received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in English Literature from the University of Richmond, M.A. in English Literature from Penn State University, and Certificate in Women’s Ministry from Westminster Theological Seminary. She serves as the Coordinator of Women's Ministry at Oakwood Presbyterian Church. Connect with her at www.LauraBooz.com.