Next Tuesday, my daughter, Joan, turns 10, and it has turned me into an emotional wreck. 10 is a big deal for children and parents alike.
For children, turning 10 is significant, because they now are double digits: They have two numbers in their age. They are maturing, and becoming mini-adults. That jump from 9 to 10 is important for them and I think, on many levels, it makes children ‘feel’ different, more in control of their own lives, and more themselves.
For parents, it is also a significant milestone. When our first children turn 10, it means we have been parents for a decade.
I am sure each 10th birthday celebrated in households has huge meaning and, for parents, when their youngest turns 10, the whole family is moving into a new stage of life.
Joan’s 10th birthday has been at the forefront of my mind for a few months now. I randomly catch myself scrolling through pictures of her first few years. I grab moments across the day to dig deep into the archives for ‘that’ video of her eating cheesy cauliflower for the first time or of her taking her first steps.
I find myself reaching for extra hugs and kisses across the day, holding on to her, pinching her, and calling her ‘my baby’.
I am definitely trying to extend this time of her really needing me, and her also being happy to be with me. We haven’t started those years when my sole function will be to embarrass her and I am really clinging to what we have.
For Joan, I am sure it is utterly irritating, but she is still at that ‘swing’ age, where they jump ahead a few steps and some days step back a few, too.
She seems so grown-up most of the time, but there are those moments when you are reminded she is still little and still ‘my baby’. In one day, she will ask for a bit of space to chat to her pals on Roblox and the next minute ask me to help cut the crusts off a sandwich.
As they turn 10, we have to adapt to their needs and keep up!
Let’s face it, a decade of parenting really does change a person. I am not the same person I was before she arrived.
She has taught me so much: How to be more patient, how to really, really love a person unconditionally, and so deeply; how to play again, how to see the world a little differently. She has expanded my capacity for empathy.
Simply put: She has made my life better.
Joan is super-excited to be turning 10, and we have been hatching plans for a few weeks now.
Her favourite is vanilla cupcakes, so they are ordered, and the theme is Harry Potter. With great pride, she has ordered all things Harry Potter and has put together party bags herself.
With restrictions still in place, the plan is to spend a morning hand-delivering the party bags and cupcakes to her pals, like a mini birthday tour.
I have organised 10 presents, which she will spread out across the day, saving the big one for the moment she officially turns 10, at 3:30 in the afternoon.
We also have lots of Zoom chats lined up with family, and a screening of her favourite Harry Potter movie for that evening.
I want it to be a special day for her, and I want her to feel how much I love her.