Sometimes when I talk to my daughter, I feel like I’m right back there again – in the 7th grade – trying to figure out how life works – wondering where I fit – wondering if the friends I have chosen really like me at all – wondering if there is life beyond middle school, and, most of all, fearing that this awkward stage will follow me around forever. That was a tough year – one that I would NEVER want to relive.
Yet, here I am – looking at her – seeing the same worries written all over her sweet face. I see the tears. I hear the frustration. And, my heart is breaking all over again.
I tell her that it is going to be OK – that this, too, shall pass – that middle school is tough for everybody – but in her eyes I see that she is not so sure. She wonders how she will make it through tomorrow or next week with friendships still intact. I wish that she could see what I see. I wish she could see that she is strong and amazing. I wish she could see that she has unlimited potential – that her life will not be defined by the struggles of today. Unfortunately, she can’t see that now. I can tell her, and she might feel better for a minute. But, the challenges still come, and it is difficult to understand that everything will work out when you are in the middle of something that stretches you to uncomfortable levels, especially when you are only 11. I pray that she will understand someday. Hopefully someday soon.
Until then, I will try to be patient when she breaks down about little things and gets upset at me because she doesn’t have the right clothes. I will try to listen to the play by-play of each day with more empathy, even if I get lost in the “he said, she said.” When she has a bad day, I will try to remember what it felt like to be in her shoes, and give her a little more slack. I will try to love her even more, knowing that she may not be getting quite enough love from other people. With any luck, that will be enough to carry her through until these awkward and difficult years fade into the past.