The Letter I Wish I’d Written to my Middle School Daughter
Hi Baby Doll,
Oops-sorry. I know you don’t like it when I call you that.
It’s just that I’ve called you Baby Doll for like, ever. But it’s okay. I get it. Anyway. When I dropped you off at school this morning we were both a little irritated (for the record, it really was your turn to feed the dog, not your brother’s). Okay. Forget that. What I wanted to tell you is that I’m sad we keep bickering. We used to have so much fun together. Remember Girl Scouts? Softball season? Birthday parties and beach days? We were so close. I helped you with homework; you helped me with dinner. I told you how to do fractions; you told me about your day. I thought you’d be my Baby Doll forever; you thought I was cool.
Things have changed a bit, haven’t they.
But I’ve been thinking, and try not to hurt your neck rolling your eyes at this, but I’m okay with it. No really, I’m good. Because I know that this time will pass. Don’t get me wrong, I will continue to try, to listen, to understand, to see things from your perspective. And don’t get me wrong, you too will continue to try, to listen, to obey, to be respectful. But believe it or not, in a few short years things are going to turn around for us. I swear, it’s true. We are going to be great again, you and me. Better than ever in fact. Because God is for us. And since His love prevails, I know that one day…
1. You won’t mind me calling you Baby Doll. Or Sweet Pea. Or Honey Bunny Loo. In fact, you’ll love it. Instead of annoying you, those silly names will actually make you smile. You will know that they’re not meant to rile you; each name is simply a way for me to be able to express my overwhelming, colossal, crazy love for you. But it’s okay. For now, I will hold off on embarrassing you with the monikers. Don’t worry, one day they’ll be back. Love is patient. (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV)
2. You won’t mind my advice. Brace yourself, this one may be a little shocking. Honestly, there will come a day when you will not only listen to my opinion, you will actually seek it. You will consider my opinion and (wait for a it…) follow it. You will consider my counsel as wise words worth heeding. You will listen to my suggestions because you will trust wholeheartedly that my only concern, my primary motivation, is keeping you safe and wanting what’s best for you. It always protects… (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV)
3. You won’t mind my prying. Right now we’re in transition; you’re not a little girl anymore and I’m not the mom of a little girl anymore. Growing up means wanting to make your own decisions and craving more privacy. The problem is that this is precisely the time in your life when Dad and I should know more about what’s going on in your life. That’s a challenge. But we will keep working it through. And one day you will share with me, not because you’re asked to, but because you want to. Always trusts (1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV)
4. You won’t mind having to get my approval. You’ll even be terribly disappointed if you don’t receive it. About the friends you choose. The boys you like. Classes you take. Jobs you consider. You will care deeply that I endorse your judgment. And you will appreciate the fact that I only care because you are more valuable to me than anything in the universe. I am ready, willing and able to keep walking through our temporary struggles because one day you will appreciate why I cared so much about your choices. Always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7 NIV)
5. You won’t mind being seen with me. In fact, you’ll think it’s pretty fabulous. You’ll post pictures of us together and tell all of your friends how close we are. Hard to imagine, huh? We’ll laugh and shop and eat together, because we like to. We’ll watch shows together. We’ll talk on the phone. We’ll chat on my bed late at night and have countless inside jokes. You will want to spend time with me. I can hardly wait. Because God is for us. And His love prevails. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV)
Both of Kathryn O’Brien’s middle school daughters are currently in college. They both consider themselves besties with their mom, laugh about their terribly tumultuous middle school years, and are fine with the fact that they were used in this article to share hope for other middle school moms. In fact, they don’t mind at all.
This is a difficult reminder of how I perceived I was regarded growing up. The operative word here is “perceived”. Find ways to express your love for your kids without hesitation at every opportunity no matter how they feel about it and cherish the time you have with them as this woman does. Don’t smother them but leave no room for doubt of your love for them either. No matter what phase they happen to be going through the difficulty will pass soon enough with patience, understanding and the influence of a little recollection.
Great advice, Terry! Yes, cherish is the perfect word 🙂
I’m in the middle of the middle school years. It has been a trying time, so thank you for reminding me that this is a moment in time that, with patience and love, my daughter and I can get through.
Nancy, I totally hear you! But one day in the not-too-distant future this challenging time will only be a memory… and you will be encouraging another Mom walking through it and feeling just like you do now <3
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