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Esme is one of the most incredible creatures I have ever met: Whip-smart, loyal, graceful, beautiful, passionate: She's the sort of woman that has always made me feel like I just crawled out of a swamp.

Alongside her finer qualities, Esme has also inherited my inability to suffer fools gladly and has the temper of a hungover viper.

All of this is to say that while I love and adore my daughter, I haven't found it easy to be her mama over the last few years.

The fault is mine, running a day late and a dollar short in spotting her shift from child to young woman and the changes that needed to come from me as her parent.

Often it has felt like the house is too small, that we're caged together, frustrated and snarling, speaking carelessly and regretting it afterwards.

Esme didn't have a space to call her own, which is challenging for someone with a serious skincare habit and a passion for content creation: She felt that she was the Cinderella child, that I didn't love her as much as I loved her siblings.

It was heartbreaking for me to have our relationship reach this point: I missed her humour, her softness, her cuddles, and her messages during the week.

As we prepared for our recent trip to Hawaii, a sense of hopelessness overshadowed my thoughts: This was not just a holiday, this was Esme's first senior cheerleading competition, and how was I going to support her through a week of that, when we couldn't even manage a drama free weekend?

For those not versed in the world of "comps", they are not for the faint-hearted. They involve hours of practice, stage makeup, outrageous hair, and an emotional rollercoaster for anyone within a 10-mile radius.

The bar was on the floor, but I decided to show up for this trip 200% armed with a strict no-work policy, zero plans of my own, and a silent promise that I would be a curious observer.

This is not going to be a diary of that week away (nobody needs to read "got an Uber", "walked around a mall", or "watched practice" that many times), but I did keep my promise.

What I saw reframed my daughter for me completely.

It's not news that teenagers need a tribe that extends beyond, and in many ways replaces the family. Anyone who follows Esme on social media will know she has found herself a tribe with a profound connection; one focused on support, passion, hard work and a near-religious love of face goop.

Esme is selective about the moments she shares on social media, often omitting the small, intimate acts that cement her relationships. I have yet to see her post about hours spent chatting shit and eating sweets on hotel beds, the laughs shared untangling each other's hair after a competition and turning trips to the hotel's mini-golf course into impromptu stunting sessions, but these are core memories, so maybe they are too precious to send out into the world for careless eyes to see.

I watched Esme eagerly embrace her newfound sense of independence and felt a surge of nostalgia. I vividly remembered the mix of nervousness and thrill that came with learning to handle the little challenges of flying solo; going without lunch to buy that must-have necklace, or problem-solving how to get home when plans changed.

None of this comes without a toll, however, and spending all that time with her really made me realize something: Being sociable is exhausting and the very last thing she needs when she's trying to refuel her social tank is people getting all up in her grill asking her questions. I spent an unholy amount of time alone as a teenager, but that processing time was what I needed to make sense of the world. In my rush to fill our weekends with meaningful experiences, I had overlooked her need for stillness.

When we stepped off the plane from Hawaii, I had lost my voice, Esme won a Grand Champion ring, and we had doubled our luggage, but the best part of our trip was that we had found a new connection. I've fallen for this version of my daughter in ways I never thought possible and, for the first time in forever, I can't wait to see where our relationship goes.

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