A Dragon Ate My Princess: 7 Scary Tales of Mothering Girls Through Puberty


You’ve heard of the 7 year itch in marriage? Well, there’s a 7 year twitch in parenting. Ages 11 – 18. I’m halfway through death valley, seasoned in dodging the eye roll but still learning the slang and technology. For those just entering these years, let me be your cautionary tale. These are the seven trials and tribulations of mothering through this season. For sisters in the trenches beside me, please assist with #6. Thanks in advance and God speed, my friends. 

Scary Tales of Mothering Girls Through Puberty1. Mood swings.

Oh, for the love of all things holy, the mood swings. Some days she’s a princess. The next she’s the dragon. I’m sorry, did I say days? I meant hours. This girl can turn her countenance on a dime. Forget predictability, forget reason, forget everything you ever learned about parenting. It’s every man for himself on those days. Just get through and keep yourself – and her! – alive. But I have to play fair and say this one goes in the “like mother like daughter” category. You know that scene in Mary Poppins where they know the admiral is going to fire the cannon, so everyone takes their post to preserve the breakables? Yeah, that’s my house every 28 days. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out a storm is coming, but it probably takes an engineering degree to figure out how to navigate around us both. I can’t be the only mom that hears crazy stuff coming out of my own mouth.  I know the next sentence that is on deck to pop out.  I know full well it’s ludicrous but can’t stop myself from saying it. I can objectively assess that I’m not operating with optimum rationality, but still the mouth seems to run itself. Why would I expect my daughter to be any more sane? Any more able to contain the crazy? So when this is happening in both of our heads at the same time, it’s a wonder we are allowed to remain on the island at all. If my husband chose to maroon us as castaways for a few days a month, I can’t really say I’d blame him.

2. Hygiene. 

​In spite of all the new bodily functions that have come along, that child refuses to bathe. The following is an actual sentence she uttered this week: “OK I’ll take a shower, but can I just wash my hair and get out?”… Blank stare and an eye twitch from me. After a confused silence, I say, “As opposed to what?” She replies as if I’m the idiot, “Instead of washing my body, too”. What in the world?! Why?!?! Why would a person have any interest in being all the way in the shower and lathered up all over the head, yet so strongly desire to NOT wash other critical parts? What scrubbing methods have you employed that you find the other washing to be so tiresome and off-putting? Her reason was that it takes too long. Sweet mother of pearl, what is she doing in there? The world will never know. I declined her request for permission, explaining patiently that while she was in there, a solid attempt at crotch cleansing was in fact required. I was not a favorite that night. Well, I’m probably not a favorite any night in this season of life, but you get the picture. Moms can be dragons too.

3. Hair for days.  

No matter how hard you will it not to come, the body hair comes. Some you can see, some you can’t. But you know it’s there, just begging to be dealt with before bikini season. Though I’d expected smooth sailing in the shaving department, I couldn’t have been more wrong. You can read about those misadventures here.  Keep an open mind that the blade may not be the best path for every girl.

4. Walking the Red Mile. 

It’s amazing how quickly we go from celebrating the start of a girl’s menstrual cycle to teaching her how to hide her tampons while at school. I’ve learned a lot about my own menstrual shame, actually. Despite two decades of being happily married, I still take “discretion” up a notch to full on secrecy. I’m apparently a bit dysfunctional in this area, so being responsible for setting the tone for her future body acceptance is a weighty thing for me. I’m doing my best and undoubtedly failing. 

5. Boy, oh boy.

I’ve noticed subtle changes in her response to boys as a general topic of discussion and interest. She’s always been pretty open to telling me who she is sweet on, or who’s crushing on her. But now I see the unspoken signals as well. A boy mentions her lipstick, so she just happens to wear that shade more often. Romantic scenes in movies bring a smile to her face. I find myself watching her reactions more than the action on the screen. These sweet stories are starting to speak to her heart.

6. Her boobs are bigger than mine.

This is not acceptable. Please post ideas in the comments section below on how I can stop this.

7. I can’t stop staring at her.

We played cards the other day, and I caught sight of her hands. I don’t remember the last time I took a moment to really just drink her in with my eyes. These weren’t baby hands. No dimpled knuckles or stubby, sticky fingers. These were womanly hands, held in graceful fashion, and they were mesmerizing. I recently was tempted to screen shot her face on FaceTime as she told me a funny story from her day. There she is – enjoying her own tale, giggling all over again at the antics she’s relaying – and I can’t even focus on the story line, because from my hotel room hundreds of miles away, all I can think is that her face is the most beautiful thing to ever grace the screen of my iPad. And I want to catch it like a Pokemon.

I want to put these visual memories in a ball and remember this season when she’s caught between adulthood and childhood. The chapter of the story where, yes she’s admittedly a dragon most of the time, but it’s because she’s a princess who is so busy becoming a queen.


  1. If you figure out number 2 and 6, please for the love of God, let me know. My dragon is 11 and moved up to specialty bras but still refuses to bathe! I can’t stop staring either. Yes, at her beauty but also- she is just so grown up. Scary, scary, scary.


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