On Going to Middle School
You would think that hearing the words “advanced maternal age” when I was pregnant with your sister would have clued me in to the reality that I am getting older. But it still doesn’t seem possible that you are old enough to be in middle school!
Maybe I should have been prepared when I discovered that I would never be able to pick you up again. Or when you tried on heels and you were taller than me. Or the day we discovered that we could share shoes.
It definitely should have sunk in when you started wearing lip gloss, when you begged for a purse, and when you talked about your “crushes”.
Ah, Linds, I am in denial! It doesn’t seem possible!
But then I watch you pick out all of your school supplies. I see your excitement at orientation. I observe your Daddy teaching you how to use your locker combination.
And it hits me hard. You are going to middle school, but more than that, you are READY to go to middle school.
My sweet girlie~ I am so proud of you! It hasn’t been an easy ride getting to this point. From the very beginning of your school days, I knew you would be marching to the beat of your own drum.
You have always been independent (which is another way of saying stubborn!) and as a result, we have had a tendency to clash. But as I reflect on the past 11 years that have gone by in the blink of an eye, I see two things that have happened.
1. You are maturing beautifully. You still have this tendency to overreact to things, to respond vehemently out of your emotions, but you are quick to acknowledge your faults and to seek reconciliation. This is beautiful. You still struggle with filters and saying whatever you are thinking. But I see growth in this as well. You are pausing more. You stop yourself at the “but” when you begin to say, “I shouldn’t be saying this, but…”. You are starting to accept correction from your parents without turning it into the worst case scenario. Thanks for that by the way!
2. I’m maturing too. It has taken me a long time to move from trying to control you to understanding that my job is to celebrate you. Correct? Yes. Challenge? Of course! But somewhere in the midst of all of the correcting and the challenging, I forgot that I am supposed to celebrate you. That I am to be your biggest fan, your strongest supporter, your cheerleader. I finally found my pom poms and I am using them well. This has really changed everything for us, hasn’t it? I hope you can feel it- this genuine admiration I have for you. I still cringe sometimes, Lu, because I want the very best for you. But I am learning to shed the Mama bear skin and simply be your friend and your confidante. You see, a mama has to grow up into herself just as much as her children need to move from babies to adults.
Thanks for walking hand in hand with me on this journey, my Lindsay girl!
Now here we are! You are in middle school and there is so much I want to tell you! You asked me if I was nervous on that first day. I was. I was in 7th grade though and your aunties were in 9th and 11th, paving the way for me to walk comfortably forward. I don’t know what it is like to be the firstborn, to be the one who blazes the trails for the siblings. I do know that you are doing a remarkably fine job! (On a side note- I watched your brothers get on their bus an hour after you walked to school with your Daddy and I was struck by how confident they were. I attribute much of this to you. You have walked every step of your schooling journey with confidence and your brothers are free to walk in those footsteps because you have been brave. Thank you for that!).
But I was nervous, because everything was so new. Would I make it to class on time? Would I be able to figure out my locker combination? What if my friends abandoned me and nobody liked me? What if I couldn’t find a class?
I remember what I wore that first day of 7th grade. Grandma made me a lovely pink floral skirt with matching blouse. There was lace trim around the hem of the skirt and it was a truly lovely outfit. Except. I was a tomboy and I hated pink and I detested skirts. But I wore it because I loved my Mama and I wanted to honor her. But I felt so out of place on that first day. I wanted to hide under all of the desks. Instead, I sat at the back of the classes, trying to keep a low profile.
Looking back, I wish that I could tell my 12 year old self to be confident in who I was, to know that clothes do not define a person. But I would learn that lesson over the next several years. My friends did not abandon me. In fact, I still have the blessing of their friendship in my life and I am so grateful for that. And I didn’t have to worry about making it to class on time. I figured it out. The locker combination? Well, you have already discovered how easy that is, right? And I only messed up once in finding classes. I had “Industrial Arts” on my schedule and when I asked a classmate where to go, she heard “Mr. Artz” and took me to a math class instead. That was slightly embarrassing, but I learned two things. I should trust my own instincts (when she started taking me in the opposite direction of where I thought I should go, I should have listened to myself!) But the other thing I learned is that it really isn’t that big of a deal. We don’t truly learn things in life without making mistakes. The mistakes made in safe places are the ones that give us courage. And courage, my sweet one, will take you far in life!
It does not surprise me in the least that you are already struggling with organization. You are my daughter after all. I wish that I could give you tips and tricks that would solve all of the issues (and we WILL keep working on those things!). But can I tell you something, darling? God made you the way He did for a very special reason. He made you creative. He made you crazy imaginative. This is beautiful. So will your locker forever be messy? Probably. Should you work on that? Absolutely! But… please don’t ever feel like your inability to stay organized is a weakness that you have to overcome at all costs. Organization is helpful and beneficial for success. But you don’t have to lose WHO YOU ARE in order to live up to someone else’s standards. Work at it, but please enjoy the ride too. Perfection is not the goal here. Only growth and experience and living life to the full. Got that? Okay, good!
Now about friendships… I am so happy for the way God has already gone before you, putting you in the same school as your best friend, arranging for a sweet group of girls to be on your “team”, allowing you to be next to another pastor’s daughter and in most of the same classes with her. But friendship doesn’t just happen, Lindsay Lu. It must be worked at, cultivated, sought after. I read this quote the other day…
…friendship can be depicted as two people standing side by side looking at the same object and being stirred and entranced by it together… The paradox is that friendship cannot be merely about itself. It must be about something else, something that both friends are committed to and passionate about besides one another.
~Tim Keller in “The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
Reading this made me think of you. Middle school is a unique opportunity to pursue friendships. You are no longer the little girl who cried in art class, ya know? You get to be who you want to be. But the way to pursue friendships is not in trying to get people to like you. This never works. Instead, you have this opportunity to get to know what others like. And when you have shared interests or passions, you get to pursue them with each other.
As I look back at my enduring friendships from my Jr. High and Sr. High years, our common interest was marching band. All of my besties were in band with me and so we spent every weekend in the Fall together, going to football games, practicing, spending study halls in the band room. What drew us even closer was the friends who were also a part of youth group. We have countless memories with one another.
Don’t forget to enjoy this time, Lu Lu! You have so many new opportunities that lie before you. Go and seize them. But as you do, remember that trusting God with all of your plans is the only true way to succeed. In our inadequacies, Christ is sufficient.
I am so proud of you, daughter of mine! You have stepped into middle school with the same independence, the same courage that has carried you through the past 11 years of your life. But God has given you maturity, humility, wisdom and grace. You said to me the other day that you can see God changing your heart. I want you to know that I can see it too.
I love you. To the moon and back, to infinity and beyond, forever and always.