By Donna Small

I love my children desperately. There are, however, days that I don’t like them very much. And while I feel confident anyone who has children understands and can empathize feeling that way, it may require a certain amount of explanation.

My eldest daughter is twelve years old. It’s that glorious, hormone-laced period known to most of us as the “tween” years. For parents, the ups and downs we experience during this time rival most of the roller coasters at Carowinds. The unfortunate part of this is that it’s even more of a roller coaster ride for the child who is going through it; the rest of the family it simply sucked in by the sheer force of it.

When my daughter is her normal, sweet self, I’m still the greatest thing my daughter has ever experienced. She will come to me for advice because I’m still smart and she will hug me because I’m still loved. Occasionally, I’ve even been able to get a chuckle out of her.

Then the hormone fairy pays her a visit and my wonderful child turns into Sybil. Suddenly, I’m the recipient of exasperating sighs, eye-rolls and a sassy tone that makes me want to scream. I’ve suddenly lost all my credibility with her and she’s surprised I’m able to walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m not sure what created the change in her or when it will leave her; all I know is that we’re in the middle of hormonal breakdown that won’t be seen….well, until the next time.

Unfortunately, I know what she’s going through; I’ve been through it. We’ve all been through it. Her tiny adolescent body is a rage of hormones and she doesn’t quite know how to deal with them. She’s angry one minute, sad the next, then finally, she will come full circle and she’s happy again, not even remembering what it was that got her so upset in the first place. In fact, I’ve found her crying hysterically on our stairs, her face red and swollen, her cheeks stained red with tears and when asked, “Why are you crying,” the only response she could provide was a shrug and an exasperated, “I don’t KNOW!”

The memory of her tiny body sitting there in a near breakdown still makes my chest ache.

But my job as her mother is to fight my way through those hormones in order to figure out ways to connect with her despite her pushing me away. Because if I don’t, if I allow her to pull farther and farther away from me, I may lose her. Instead of seeking me out for advice and counseling during those tumultuous teenage years, she will turn to someone else; someone I may not want her to turn to for guidance.

So what can I do? For starters, I look for any opportunity to spend time with her, especially on her terms. You see, even in the midst of the swell of those hormones, she is still a girl who loves her arsenal of cosmetics. If I just so happen to be in the room when an urge to perform a makeover strikes her, I’m asked to be her guinea pig.

And every time…every time, my answer is ‘yes.’

It doesn’t matter that I’m tired or need to cook dinner. It doesn’t matter that I’ve already washed my face or my pajamas are on. It doesn’t even matter if she’s going to paint my toenails blue and my fingernails orange or I’m going to look like a punk rocker when she’s done with me.

The point is, she’s doing something with me. And it’s something that doesn’t involve a screen, a keyboard, or a micro-chip. It is during those times that she’ll talk to me about her day and because what she wants (even though she may not realize it yet) is for me to listen. And because she’s normally working on my face, I’m forced to do just that. I can’t comment and have my lipstick smudged, now can I?

So, when your daughter asks to do your makeup, curl your hair, or paint your toenails, the answer should be an enthusiastic ‘yes!’

And that’s for you too, dads. Nothing she’s going to do is permanent. You can wash your hair, your face and you can also get rid of the nail polish with a little remover. And I promise, the removal of the beauty treatment will take much less time than the application…

By the person who will always remember you took time out of your day and allowed her to do it in the first place.

Donna was recently a Main Street Mom on the Move. Click here to see her profile!