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Dear Daughter: Today You Start Junior High

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Today you start junior high. Whoa. That’s big. And it doesn’t seem possible, as it feels like only yesterday you were telling me you did NOT need me to walk you into your kindergarten classroom – that I could just drop you off at the door. Your independence is one of the things I’ve always admired most about you (regardless of the frequent disagreements it may cause).

Lots of things are going to change for you in the upcoming months. You are growing up and not all of it is going to be pleasant. But if you can just try to put aside the idea that I am the stupidest person on the planet for the next few minutes, I feel like I have some advice that can be of some use to you. Remember – to get where I am now, I had to be your age once. Even if it was a million years ago.

Activities you are involved in are going to get a lot more competitive than what you are used to. I can say with 100% honesty that I don’t care if you come in first or last. It doesn’t matter if you are THE best, as long as you are YOUR best. In school, in sports, and in life, chances are good that there is going to be someone who is a little smarter, a little faster, or a little more talented. That’s okay! Those people inspire you to work harder. And when you find that you ARE the best at something, be humble enough to appreciate your gift and use it to help others.

Friendships can get weird during the teenage years. Hormones and emotions literally erupt and can result in hurt feelings and wounded egos. Try to keep this in mind if you find yourself on the receiving end. And, unfortunately, “mean girls” do exist. Steer clear and resist any temptation you might have to become one just to be part of the “in” crowd. That is NOT a title to hold proudly. You don’t have to be everyone’s best friend, but you will never regret making someone feel like they matter. Even if it just means smiling and saying “hello” as you pass in the hallway.

Up until now you’ve been pretty private about…well, just about everything. I was the same way so you came by it honestly. I don’t, however, think it’s a great trait so I’d like for us to work on communicating a little better. Nothing you tell me will make me stop loving you. I may get really, really pissed if you tell me you’ve done something undeniably stupid, but I’m in this for the long haul, kiddo. And my door is always open.

I know the time is drawing near where it’s not so cool to hang out with me, and my intelligence level suddenly seems to be about the same as the tree stump in our backyard. It’s as normal for you to feel like that as it is for me to embarrass you in retaliation with as much frequency and enthusiasm as I can muster. Keep that in mind when it seems like a good idea to talk back or roll your eyes at me in front of your friends. Consider this your warning.

You’re growing up. I actually feel like I’m handling it quite well thus far. While I miss your tiny hands and itty bitty feet, and the smell of lavender baby shampoo under my nose as I rocked you to sleep at night all those years ago, I look forward to the many, many things we have yet to share. Things we’ll both remember. This milestone is just the beginning.

Have a great year, sweetie.

Love,
Mom

Meredith carried a goody-goody image her entire life until she started a blog and happily abandoned that façade. Wine drinking and sarcasm are key themes for The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears where she laments on the ridiculousness of marriage and parenthood. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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