You left for school in a huff this morning, and I’m sorry. I know you didn’t want to go today, and I wanted so badly to keep you home, but I couldn’t. You needed to go.
Every day, I want to keep you home — home from the pressure of trying to understand math and science. Home from the glares from mean girls and the unwelcoming lunchroom tables. Home from trying hard to be someone you’re not, so you can impress people you don’t know, so they will like an untrue version of you.
When you walked toward those school doors, I wanted to go there with you to shield you from all the terrible things you were about to face. I wanted to take the math quiz for you, because my adult brain finally understands how to solve those mind-numbing problems. I wanted to walk into that lunch room for you and bypass the stares of all the mean girls and sit next to the other girl who sits alone, because I know that is where you will find your best friend.
When walking down those hallways, I would have rolled out the tumbling mat, spread out all your artwork, and brought your dad and all your siblings with me to show everyone how talented and well-loved you really are. Because given a full knowledge of your awesomeness, no teacher would look down on you, and no child would dare treat you unkindly — I am certain.
But, I didn’t keep you home, and I didn’t do all those things because there is another thing I am certain of: Things will get better.
There is not a soul who sails through middle school unscathed — yes, even the popular girls. Insecurities run rampant at this time of your life, and everyone deals with them differently. You have bullies, girls who stare, kids who act strange, some who act out in class — and there’s you, my girl, who stays quiet, bringing your frustrations home with you.
And when you bring those frustrations home, expressing them through clenched teeth and streaming tears, I sit across from you and cry with you because I know how hard it is. But, I smile because I know your potential. I know that if you hold on a little longer, you will find your groove. You will pass a math test, and then a few more. You will find a friend, and then a few more. Those friends will get to know the real you, and you will find your smile.
Middle school may very well rank high on the list of the worst places to be right now, but it is where you learn so much about yourself and others. If you hang on just a little longer, oh the stories you will have to share with your kids. It may be a bump in the road, but it is your bump, so own it.
Before you know it, you will be sending your own daughter off to middle school, who will also be giving you the stink eye. You will feel bad for her and want to save her, but you’ll let her walk away. Then you will sit and cry with her and then you will smile, knowing full well that if she holds on a little longer, she, too, will find her smile.
Dear daughter, just hold on a little longer.
Arianne Brown is a mom of nine, who writes for many local and national publications. She finds solace at home with her family and logging miles anywhere her feet will take her. Many of her writings can be found by searching “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.