Tomorrow morning the three of you will start your first day as 7th graders. This milestone feels huge to me. You are legitimately adolescents, at an age where I have vivid memories of the highs, lows and countless emotions and experiences in between. As I have started to share more of my own cringe-inducing middle school stories with you, my heart feels excitement, empathy and a bit of nervousness about all you will face in coming months and years.
As you know, your Dad and I seriously considered homeschooling this year. It feels like such a monumental time of growth and change that we wanted to spend as much of it as possible with you. In many ways, I think we wanted to delay your entry into the rapids of adolescence a bit longer--to make sure we had made enough deposits, to give you more grounding, to take you on more shared adventures. It was an idea we had nurtured since you were toddlers. Yet, as we prayed and made more concrete preparations God changed our hearts. He made it clear it was His Will for you to remain in your school environment and we are thrilled to see what is in store.
For what feels like at least the 10,000th time since you were born, we've let go of our plans in favor of His. It is with faith and butterflies we send you off tomorrow morning--into the storied awkwardness of 7th grade.
As you go, I do have a couple of reminders and a promise:
As I've told you many times, this is a stage of life where you & your peers are all just trying to figure some things out. There will be bumps and bruises on the way to beautiful growth--but it is all an important part of the process. Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, the struggle is what strengthens your wings for flying. Give grace to yourself and your peers as you all simultaneously and individually work through the process.
With hormones, changing relationships and the stress of increasing responsibilities remember to keep your perspective. Spend a few minutes every morning reflecting on who God is and how He loves you. Pause to breathe, look around at creation and remember the One who made it all also created you and has a place for you in it.
Your identity as a beloved Child of God is not to be taken lightly. Don't let the world distract you from that basic notion-- so many of your future decisions will be best made through the lens of that one truth.
And when things feel overwhelming ask yourself, what will I think about this situation tomorrow, next month, next year? It's funny how that seems to work for me even in middle age.
Finally, know that your Dad and I adore you. You are each so uniquely designed and we are delighted to watch how God is working in your lives. We commit to continue to pray for you--and love it when you tell us specific things to cover. We pledge to make home a place of kindness and respect--a safe place to land and be recharged and encouraged even on the hard days.
As you know well by now, I mess up a lot. I am learning how to parent middle schoolers even as you are learning how to be one. So, let's also remember to give each other the benefit of the doubt, believe the best and apologize quickly. Love covers a multitude of sins.
Go get 'em, tigers!