**For my non-Mormon friends: In the LDS religion, 12 is kind of a big age. From 3-12, kids attend the children’s Sunday school organization. When they turn 12, a girl enters Young Women and attends classes and activities geared toward adolescents. They are able to enter areas of our temples for the first time. It really symbolizes an end of childhood.**
In the months leading up to her birthday, people would ask me how I felt about her turning 12. I would answer: “Oh, she’s really ready. She’s so mature and excited about this next stage in her life. I’m happy for her.” I meant it.
And then 4 days before her birthday, during our family scripture study, we got a knock on the door. All of the girls in her new Young Women class were there, surprising her and welcoming her with a song and a candy-gram. Cute, right?
Except I was standing at the door, barely able to be civil. I was so surprised by my feelings and surprised by the realization that I was MAD at these ladies for coming to take my child and turn her into a teenager! I knew it was illogical and tried to get over it, but I quickly figured out that night that this transition was going to be a little more painful for me than I thought.
We celebrated with a birthday lunch at Red Robin, jumping at the local trampoline place with her three closest friends and present opening in the car. As we drove, I listened to these girls talk about BOYS, as they got more and more hyper and goofy, and again had to face the fact: she is not a child anymore.
I got choked up as I decorated her birthday table, and sorted pictures of a baby that will never be a baby again, a kindergarten that I’ll never get to hang out with again, an innocent 8 year old fresh from the waters of baptism that is starting this probably not-so-innocent phase. I remembered an older friend telling me “After they turn 12, it just goes by in a blink.”
Since her birthday we’ve had 2 Beehive lessons, 1 youth fireside, 2 Young Women activities (all of which she LOVED LOVED LOVED). She’s already busier, different, more mature, truly-- in 10 days. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I can feel the change.
There are wonderful things about this 12 year old…a family trip to the temple to do baptisms, as I thrilled to introduce her to the peace and profundity that can be found in temple service. Or family prayers that show a spiritual maturity that she needs and shares with her siblings. She is a capable babysitter, a good example to her friends, fun to talk to when she unloads after school.
But I’m allowed to mourn my first little girl, just a little bit, aren’t I?