To my almost-teenage daughter: I will be right here waiting for you


June 12, 2019

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Sweet daughter, I know you’re 12. You’re not just my little girl anymore. You’re starting to wade a little further from the shore. You’re pulling away from your family more and leaning into your friends.

I may not like it, but, I understand that it’s natural and necessary. That learning to be independent can mean shoving-off, alone.

It seems like not too long ago I was your age myself. I remember how exciting this time of life can be. There are so many possibilities. So many wonderful firsts still ahead.

But I also know how hard it can be. How confusing it can be to make sense of this world and where you fit in.

In the years to come, the world will tell you that you have to find yourself. But you’re not truly lost, my dear, just roaming. I know from experience how many detours we can take on the way back to who we really are. Don’t worry, you’ll get there eventually.

But in the meantime, know that I know her.

You’re the girl who shined so brightly before they cast the shadows of their doubt on you. The girl with her head in the clouds and sunbursts in her eyes. Whose art is beautiful and writing brilliant. Who wanted to adopt her friends, donate her piggy bank money and nurse injured animals back to health.

The girl with the quirky sense of humor who will do or say anything for a laugh. My driving duet partner who joins me in off key harmonies. Who hangs her lanky arm out of the window to cup the passing wind.

The girl who loves a good soda as much as a good story. Who believes in kindness, angels and dreaming big. The girl who believed in herself. And loved her family more than anything.

I know you have to grow up. I want you to. Though it hurts at times, I stand proud as I watch you bloom. Growth takes time and patience. Often painful pruning. Don’t fret. Don’t get overwhelmed. The awkwardness you feel is all part of the journey. A side-effect of the clashing of body and soul.

So, be kind to yourself. Give yourself some grace as you learn, love, even make mistakes along the way. It is inevitable that you will transform, reform, then probably change again.  Experiment with your style, cut your hair if you want, but do it for you.

Transform and reform but don’t let the world change the things about you that truly matter—like your heart, your faith, your unique voice. You can’t expect to blend in when you were painted with such a vibrant palette.

In the meantime, know I’ve got you. Know I see you. The real you. That I am happy to hold her until you’re ready to embrace her in full.

Until then, I will keep her in my heart like a photo in a locket. I’ll smile knowingly when you let your guard down and I get to catch glints and glimpses. Until you’re ready to let her shine again.

It’s something we all must learn to do. In some ways I’m still learning to love who I really am. See, we all go through it but, I spent many years shy and insecure, and I hope that you can spend far fewer.

As you walk down this road, this journey of life before you, take your inner child’s hand. Instead of acting tough and pushing her away, be kind to her and don’t deny her. It may take a lifetime to appreciate yourself for who you really are, but my advice is to start today. Don’t wait so long to be her.

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