Seven promises to my middle school aged daughter:
I will be your friend
I know, I’m your mother. And, you already have friends. But, when I’m not telling you to clean your room or reminding you to practice your french horn, I will try to show you how a real friend acts. I will look at you when you talk to me. I will be interested in what you have to say. I will praise you when you do something great. I will encourage you when you are frustrated. I promise not to cut you down, compare you to someone else, or make you feel inadequate. I will love you for who you are. For your own individual uniqueness and creativity.
I will make sure to touch you
Even with all your long gangly-ness. Even with your purposeful nature. Even though you are quickly catching up with me in height, you haven’t in heart. You are a small soul in this rapidly growing body. You are still a girl. I will still say “I love you” when you leave in the morning. And I will hug you goodnight. I will kiss the top of your head as long as I can. I will rub your back while we watch a movie. I know you may look older and act older, but deep down, you still want to be petted and snuggled like your little sisters. I used to stroke your round cheeks while you slept. I will be sure to hold your face in my hands every once in a while.
I will remind you that you are more than what your peers may say you are.
I will remind you how petty girls of 12, 13 and 14 can be. Of one thing I am sure: adolescents do NOT have a clear view of reality. I will help you see that hormones can make for unpleasant cafeteria lunches, but it will be so much better next week. I will help you appreciate your talents, your gifts, your loveliness, your uniqueness. Even if others don’t appreciate them. They will someday. I will tell you stories from my past that you may only half-listen to, but maybe someday you’ll realize that I really DID know what you were going through. I will try to remind you of the bigger picture, or at least make you chocolate chip cookies.
I will let you be yourself
I will not make you feel that you need to look, act, speak, or dress like everyone else. I will remind you that this world is much bigger than this small college town, and there is room in it for many different kinds of people. I don’t want you to be a cookie-cutter-girl. I love seeing a bit of me and a bit of your father in you. And I especially love to see this new personality that is all yours. Your humor, your hobbies, the things you like to collect, the books you like to read, the jokes that make you laugh. No, I don’t want you to be just like anyone else but you. And I will be careful to make sure that you know that.
I will stop and listen when you start talking
You used to talk my ear off in the car, but your words are sparse now. You are thinking. You are busy with school work. With your books. With your friends. You are gone more, and do more things on your own. So, when you start talking in that certain way you have, I will be sure to listen. I will slide my computer aside, put down my book, stop cooking and look at your face. Yes, I will look at you and listen. I will realize that you might not always want advice, which I know I have plenty of to offer. I will know that you might just want to talk to me, and in your talking, you may hear your own voice telling you what do to or how to feel.
I will step back, but step up when needed
I know you are becoming an individual. I know you want to do things yourself. I know that I need to allow that to happen. And, so often, you surprise me with your capabilities, what you can handle that I couldn’t when I was your age. I have to let you handle things with your friends, with your teachers. But, I’m still here. You might think I’ve fallen off into the background, but I am still here. I will realign your course when it veers off track. I will help you foster friendships that help you grow in goodness. I may wait in the wings to see how you handle a rough spot. I might stand back there behind the curtains, hoping you make a heroic recovery. But I will not let you fall off the stage into nothingness. I may not be able to control everything like I once could, but I will meet you there. I won’t leave you alone. I’ve got your back, even if you don’t realize it. You are NOT alone, and I will swoop in at any time to save you.
You used to trip me with your closeness. I would go to the bathroom and hear your chattery voice on the other side of the door. Every time. I would wake up and you’d already be in my bed. You were there in every moment to remind me to pray for you. I would feed you your breakfast of cereal and applesauce and pray for you. I would read you a story and you’d fall asleep against my knee. I’d pray for you. You were ever in my presence, and ever in my thoughts. I’d have been a dunce if I hadn’t remembered to pray for you.
Now, you are farther away. Someday you may be very far. It’s as if my physical hovering has been replaced by a spiritual hovering. Not that nervous and frantic hovering. But the kind of hovering that will cover you with love no matter where you are and whom you are with. When you are in that large building, maroon metal lockers lining the walls, you will be prayed for. When you fret over your Spanish test, I will be there, with my prayers. While you sit at lunch in that huge cafeteria, still learning how to converse with such different people, I will pray for you. When others say things that pierce you, I will be there. When you are unsure, when you are nervous, when you are excited, when you are inspired, my prayers will be there. That, one thing, I can guarantee.
As your Daddy says, “prayer changes things.” I can’t change the world for you. I can’t make people be nice, or change that 83% into a 103%. But I can love you with the heart of God. I can lift you up with all my might, in great hope for all He has created you to be, knowing that His plans are so much grander and more beautiful that anything I could ever fathom. I can offer you to Him, and we will be at peace.