You started middle school this week. 5th grade to be exact. I’m not sure where the years went, but here we are. You’re 10 1/2 and minutes away from completing your first week of 5th grade.
I have some things I’d like to discuss with you before you get any bigger, before you go any further in life. These things I want to talk about are important. Really important. They’ll impact your life potentially forever, so it’s best we address them now. (I know, I’m such a mom.)
First off, you started talking about being the “middle child” last spring. Enough of that. Okay? Can we be done with all that “middle child” talk before it goes any further? I want you to know with all of my heart, with every ounce of my being, that we were 1,000% aware of this so-called “middle child syndrome” before we decided to have a third child. We knew that having a third child would mean you’d be in the middle. But we reread the birth order book and asked the experts, and according to them, any gap between the second and third child that’s more than 5 years messes up the whole birth order business. Do you remember there’s almost 7 years between you and your baby sister? That means that we see YOU as our first baby girl. And while your sister is the third child (the baby of the family) she also acts as a functional only child because of the large gap between the two of you. We never, ever want you to feel like a slighted, less than, overlooked “middle child.” A parent never intends that for their child, and we certainly thought and overthought that a million ways before we had you. So please, before we go any deeper with these “middle child” references, can we just stop? If it’s our favorite “The Middle” TV show that’s influenced you wrongly, please don’t let them talk you into this “middle child” business. Your place in our family is unique. We thought of you most extensively before we brought your baby sister into the world. And we love you as our daughter. You are your own person with your own set of beautiful gifts and talents. So please rest assured in who you are, your unique place in our family, and your unique place in this world. There’s only one you.
On a similar note, I noticed that a deadly word started creeping into your vocabulary this summer. Perfect. Ugh. You know how much I hate that word. You must know now. There is no such thing as perfect. No human being, no circumstance, no place or thing is perfect. You’ve referenced the fact that you like your clothes to be perfect, that you want to make sure your hair is perfect. I just want you to know that seeking perfect, that striving for perfect will get you nowhere fast. Your longing for perfection will only be found in heaven. I’ve called you on your perfect references, and I’ve explained why it’s not a goal I want you striving for. Let me tell you something. I’ve been there done that. Perfect? It’s been my goal, the thing I’ve been striving for, the thing I’ve been longing to be, the thing I’ve been trying for so long, the thing I’m dying a slow death over. SO done with that. SO not attainable. I’m still working it out at 39+ years old. So sweetie, just let go of perfect now. Okay? Right now. Before its snares grab ahold of you tighter. Let it go. Let go of any and all notions of perfection.
I have some more things to say, if you don’t mind. This is sounding more like a preaching session, so before I go any further, please accept my apologies and acknowledgement that I am being sort of preachy. I want what’s best for you and I do believe these items are critical for a girl in middle school who will soon be a young lady.
Now let’s move on to some things that are amazing about you!
I love that you’re SO confident in your skin. Body image isn’t a concern of yours one bit. I’m so grateful. I’m so glad. I’m elated beyond words. Can we keep it that way? Because as far as I’m concerned, the more years we can squeak by with you feeling completely confident in your own skin, in your own body, the better! Odds are, there’ll come a time when you’ll wake up to the world of fashion models and movie stars and how you’re “supposed to look” and you’ll turn that ugly corner. But for now, I’m LOVING that you’re LOVING yourself and that body of yours. Don’t let your friends, boys, TV or YouTube videos sway your opinion about yourself. Be confident. Rest assured that you are awesome! You are cute! You are beautiful. You are sweet, smart, social and hard working.
Keep being yourself. You have a crazy-good, fierce blend of my sensitivity and your dad’s extroversion. That’s a powerful blend for you, girl. You’re going places. You love people. You love socializing. You love being in the center of the action. You love to know what’s happening and where it’s happening and how long before we can get there and go there. Am I right, or what?! You love fashion, and you love style. You love styling hair, and you love doing nails. (Where in the world did that come from? I hate painting my nails!) You’re sensitive. Empathetic. So much so that you cry when I cry. Maybe it’s a curse. Maybe it’s a blessing. It’s all good. You’re a sweet soul. Keep being who you are. I’m not here to stop you. Sure, I don’t like socializing or hair or nails nearly as much as you, but I’m in. I’m fully in to whoever you are, whoever you want to be, wherever you are. I’m in. All in. So go, girl. Be yourself. Do your thing.
Last, but most certainly, not least. Don’t stop asking questions. Like “Why do the clouds get dark when it’s going to rain?” “Why do I have everything I need and want, and they don’t have anything?” about children living in extreme poverty. And “Are God and Jesus the same?” It’s good to have questions. It’s good to ask questions. You will continue to have questions as you grow up. Keep asking. As human beings, we must keep asking the hard questions. We must keep allowing ourselves to wonder WHY. Don’t stop asking. Keep that curiosity. Keep that open mind. Keep questioning status quo. Keep wondering why and how and why not? Those questions will bring you far. Those questions will set you apart from those who choose to look away, from those who choose to stop asking, from those who just don’t care to ask anymore. Those questions will help you see things others don’t see. And eventually, those questions will make you wise beyond your years.
With those deep thoughts in mind, I guess that’s about all I have to say today.
I’m proud of you. You’re awesome. You’re a sweet surprise. And a beautiful delight.
Keep being you, just as you are.
We love you,
This letter to my 10-year-old daughter, Elsa, is second of a three-part letters series I’m writing to my children as we’re entering major transitions for each of them. I wanted to capture my thoughts and feelings before the moment passed. If you want to read my letter to my near 13-year old son, Cooper, click here. If you want to read my letter to my 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Maisie, click here.