This morning you were grumpy. You stayed in your room for a solid half-hour after waking. I heard drawers opening and slamming shut. You stomped around your room in one new tennis shoe and the boot for your foot contusion. Doors opened. Bathroom door slammed shut.
After the 900th outfit change you sat at the table glumly stirring your bowl of Cream of Wheat. Amidst the eye rolls and dramatic sighs you played with your little brother, you hugged your Dad, you nervously asked me if I liked your shirt.
Then you were out the door with a well-stocked backpack: money for a school locker, lip gloss, bracelets, school supplies, lunch... you walked with head down to the school bus. Nervous and excited. Your ponytail bounced as you walked and yes, your shoes match your backpack perfectly.
I can't believe you're starting the sixth grade. MIDDLE SCHOOL. You'll be playing the trumpet, keeping up with class changes, and joining clubs. I know it is clichéd, but honestly I feel like it was just yesterday I dropped you off for your first day of daycare yesterday when you were 18 months old. Now you're 11! The time is going by too fast.
I wish I could say that this will be the best time of your life and with only good: friends, band practice, clubs, first crushes and most likely first boyfriends..... But I also know that my middle school years were harsh: bullies, gossip, body changes, heartache, school stress.... There will be plenty of tough times mixed in with the good and exciting.
Already you're forming your own opinions and ideas. I watch you planning and dreaming and wishing things for the future. I want so badly to jump in and plan, dream, and wish with you. I want to be right there to celebrate the joys and wipe away the tears and hurt, but I know that you are forging your own path. I must strive to offer you support and space.
When you were in the womb I thought about what I wanted for you in life and how I viewed my role as a parent. More than anything I want you to be independent. I want you to be your own person and know your own mind. I've spent the last 11 or so years letting you pick your clothes, express your mind, and make choices. I haven't given you blatant independence. You've also had responsibility: chores, consequences, and more than a few disappointments.
Now its time for this Mama to take a deep breath and step back. I'll help with homework, I'll answer questions, I'll offer my counsel, and (of course) there will still be discipline and rules, but I promise, Alicia Hope, to resist my urge to helicopter, to let you wear your mismatched socks without comment, to curb my snarky reactions to Selena Gomez music, I won't forcibly hug you in front of your friends.... I promise to let you be you and part of that is letting you experience those joys and hurts without me sheltering you.
You are simply the most marvelous
I hope you are having a wonderful first day of school and I hope to hear all about it soon. Remember to be yourself, do your best, and that I'll always be here. I love you.