You know what? This mom is just about over the social crap preteen girls put each other through.
And you know what else? It's just too bad because I'm only getting started.
So in order to combat the negativity surrounding having a wonderful 11-year-old girl who doesn't feel wonderful (even though she should), I am writing 5 things that I really want to make sure she knows, and I hope I am able to help her understand at some point in the next 5 years. I'm sure I'll think of 5 more some other time, and maybe 5 more after that.
1. Sarah - You are beautiful, inside and out. You have the deepest, most thoughtful soul. You have always been prayerful and contemplative. You are able to see to the root of people. You often discount your ability when what you perceive isn't what you want to see in others. As you grow up, you will get better at this and you won't second-guess yourself so much. And when you realize that your perceptions are correct, you'll protect your honest and loving heart much better.
2. Sarah - You are loyal, to a fault...I don't want to see you sacrifice your own well being to be loyal to those who don't understand or appreciate your gift. It pains me to watch as you learn that you are rarely the first one thought of. But it pleases me to see that you're often the first that can be counted on.
3. Sarah - you are intelligent. You do well in school, but that's not the only, nor the primary place I see your gift of intelligence. You are perceptive with peers. You often weigh choices in front of you and I can tell that you see past the decision to the potential consequences. So far, I have seen and have been told by teachers and other parents that you have chosen to err on the side of the right more often than on the side that is easy.
4. Sarah - you are the best big sister. Sure, you're growing up very fast now and on the whole, we're having some growing pains in our family right now. But overall, I can count on you to be a good example for your siblings. I can also count on your assistance with the younger ones, though not to the point where it becomes your sole responsibility.
5. Sarah - your best friends in your early life will be your sisters. Sorry, kid. You're probably not going to be blessed with an abundance of invites to friends' parties and play dates. You have lots of siblings and you will learn that family is what you can really depend on and the rest is just background noise, for the most part. When you get into adulthood...probably long past your college years, you'll find some kinship among other women who will understand the same thing. Knowing this doesn't make adolescence any easier, I'm afraid. But I hope that someday, when you think back on this time (perhaps you'll be trying to help your own daughter navigate this period of life), you'll remember that you heard this somewhere. You'll remember that you blew it off, but it turned out kind of like that...if not all the way, at least in part.
You know, I always thought navigating the pre-teen and teen years myself was hard. I look back sometimes and can remember how confused I felt about so many things. I was so confused, I didn't even know I was confused. As a matter of fact, I thought I had it all under control and I knew everything. Of course, after I grew up, I realized how much I didn't know...couldn't know.
Now, as I watch my daughter begin this journey, my heart breaks far more often than I would have thought possible. I shed tears. I sob. I surprise myself. Because there is this part of me that knows how unimportant some of these things are in the grand scheme of things. But then...there is a part of me that also remembers - KNOWS - that some of these things mean THE WORLD to my daughter right now. I guess that's why it hurts my heart so much to watch her struggle. And the fact that she's not struggling with the real...the important...the truly impactful things. She is struggling with those things that just aren't important overall, but feel like the world to her.
There's a part of me that wants to believe the first time through this is the hardest and the rest of my kids will go through this stage and I'll look back and laugh (a little bit) at how much I feel as Sarah is going through it.
But surely...life just doesn't work that way. Does it?