I ran into the house and yelled upstairs, “I’m coming up in a second, honey! Have you showered yet?”

I’d been worried I wouldn’t have enough time to help my daughter get ready for her end of season swim banquet. There are only a few times my girl is overly concerned about her appearance, and this is one of them. She’d asked me earlier in the week to help her try some makeup for the first time. She has never worn a drop of it, and there’ve been many times I’ve wondered about suggesting a bit of cover up on her pimples, but why would I draw attention to something she seems to be okay with? I see her face every morning and wonder if she looks in the mirror and spots her emerging acne patches. I’m always a bit worried she might feel insecure about her new hormonal break outs, but she never seems to be.

This to me is amazing in itself. I’m constantly in awe of her ability to be comfortable in her own skin. Literally. I don’t know where she gets it because I never was.

I throw my shoes off and run upstairs with excitement, looking forward to showing her my makeup and helping her apply just “a little bit of mascara, Mom.”

I walked into the bathroom and found her standing in front of the bathroom mirror, wearing her cute new black and white dress. She walked over to me with a smile.

“Look mom! I already did it. See?” She pulled up her glasses to show me her beautiful blue eyes with perfectly applied mascara.

“Wait! How did you even know how to do that? They look GORGEOUS! Just the right amount, sweetie!”

I couldn’t believe it. She had found my mascara and managed to do it on her own. I was baffled, impressed, and well…a little sad.

My girl had figured it out all by herself. She didn’t need my help after all.

How did she even know how to use mascara? She didn’t glob it at all, and how did she even know which one to use? There were a few to choose from and the other options could have been a disaster. Somehow she’d managed to pick through my makeup bin and find the right one, and diligently applied it to her eye lashes with the perfect amount.

To my surprise, I was feeling a rush of excitement to be sharing makeup with my girl. This was a new rite of passage for us. We’d already begun to share clothes and face cleaners and hair spray – but now comes the makeup. I thought about all her newly acquired Bath and Body sprays and scrubs as I glanced toward the shower shelves holding her razors and shaving cream and sweet smelling soaps.

My baby girl isn’t a baby anymore.

This has been my mantra for the last year. I’ve slowly been celebrating this awakening to a new season in her life, and in mine. She’s emerging from childhood into adolescence. I knew it was coming, but sometimes, I find it inconceivable.

The transition can be frustrating as she has become more and more forgetful of her responsibilities at home, distracted by Snapchat and making plans to go to the mall. She’s grown careless in her verbal snips toward her brother and her room is always a merciless mess – all normal teenage behavior, indeed. I call her on everything, and the greatest asset my daughter has is her willingness to acknowledge and apologize for her shortcomings.

I can work with that.

This year has been about new breaks from her childhood ways, and witnessing this transition has been surreal, surprising, and incredibly profound. Catching my breath at times, I’m baffled by her maturity, complexity, and shockingly rapid growth.

It’s the great parenting anomaly – this mystery of time and how its speed tends to manipulate and modify our kids with sudden impact, despite our will to stop it.

There are times I celebrate her new-found independence, and then there are moments I grieve over the loss of the innocent baby girl I once knew. But I always feel deep gratitude for this pimple-faced teenager slowly appearing before my eyes. Gratitude comes easily when I witness those extraordinary qualities I spotted, embraced, and admired so many years ago, as they find their places in her rising passion and purpose. She’s an honor student, heading into high school next year. Her dream pursuit? To become a nurse with the plan to journey on mission trips to save the world, one sick soul at a time.

Honestly, I couldn’t think of a more perfect dream. It might change, but maybe not. That’s the beauty of dreams, isn’t it? They tend to arise from the deepest places and either take flight or wane with the passing of time.

She has time. I anticipate an extraordinary path, no matter her choice.

“How about a little cover up for that one pimple, just for fun?”

“Oh, okay. How do I do that?”

“Well, just dab some right on it. Oh dear, that’s a bit too much. Yeah, just wipe that off. See, watch how I do it. There you go. Exactly!”

“Oh yeah, it looks much better.”

“You’re so beautiful, honey. Now, how about that hair? Do you want me to curl it?”

“Will you braid it?”

“I have another idea, let’s pull it over like this, and you can wear it down. Oh, just LOOK AT THAT! It’s absolutely beautiful. You look so much older this way!”

“Oh, yeah. I like that, I think.”

I felt a little satisfied, having pushed myself into her independence. These motherhood moments seem to be lessening with every step she takes deeper into the teenage years. She no longer depends on me for much these days. Each new realization of this truth throws me.

She stared in the mirror with her hair waving down around her face as I stood behind her with a satisfied smile, reaching for the hair spray to seal the deal.

My girl looked beautiful. And she would have looked just as lovely, had I not showed up to help. There’s a flood of assurance and joy in knowing that. There’s also a surge of grief in letting her go.

One tiny step at a time.

This step, mascara.

Next step?

We’ll see…