Dear 6th Grade,
You have been a repeated kick in the face daily. For a little while, I was certain that you stole our spunky girl forever but look at her. She’s okay and we are okay. We fought with you, learned things about a 504 and… oh, how we wish this whole process wasn’t so delayed and painful. But it was. I watched her fade and I prayed and worried that 8 AM-3PM would forever be our least favorite part of the day. All the hours I spent praying, watching the clock waiting for a frustrated call from the school, or a frantic call from my child with all the symptoms that looked like shutting down, a tummy ache, and tears with the woven thread of ADD and anxiety tying all of those triggers and symptoms together and tying all of us up.
It was just one more misunderstood child acting out but truly just begging in a language few could understand for help. I heard you, baby. We heard you.
Her spunk is back.
Her spark is back.
Her smile is back.
She in all her headstrong –make you want to pull your hair out- glory is back.
Baby, wear the half shirt that you made last night and the heels that are going to kill your feet all day. I wore way worse when the 90’s happened. My mom shook her head, too. I will not tame what I fear would never return.
I cried glancing over at you the other day in the passenger seat lost in thought; your head in clouds that make you feel safe and understood. But this time it wasn’t out of fear or motherhood-induced-anxiety. It was out of sheer awe. I choked back those tears and gushed over how proud I was of you.
I told you it was your hardest year yet and just look at you, eager to get out of the car with a smile on your face, carrying a backpack that weighs more than you. I gushed over you and celebrated you passionately…almost loudly…and you loved it. A smile spread across your beautiful face and I swear my heart grew three sizes larger.
You are more resilient than I thought. Now that your spark has returned I see the scars, that could linger if you let them, diminish into the nothingness of survival.
I survived (and hated with a fiery passion) 6th grade, feeling small and less than and not smart enough. But, I figured out that fear is a liar and the enemy of our souls is a punk with a bag of old tricks. This will be something your children go through and trust me, it somehow hurts more feeling the middle school pains through the lenses of a mother’s heart.
Growing up you learn how to tame the voices that don’t line up with God’s truth. If my voice, heaven forbid, becomes your inner voice…you will hear the strong voice that says you can do this. You can do all things, not just some, through Christ. You will hear softness and know that it’s strength in disguise and realize that my panicky fast-talking voice, that is three octaves too high, is not the sound of insanity…it’s motherhood and it happens to the best of us. That inner voice that sounds like me will also tell you that your hair looks greasy and that I warned you those oversized heels are going to make you hate your decision-making skills and feet tomorrow. But, whatever, wear them anyway. I will not steal your smile or spunk. But I will, darling, shake my head and remember all of those times my mom was right and hear her sweet voice say, “You’re payin’ for your raising.”
Fourteen more days of school left and a million more painful lessons to learn.
I saw you, baby. I fought for you. I left parties, church functions, and family gatherings early to cradle this tender space of figuring out what to do with a labeled child. Baby girl, these things that made you feel small and less than will one day be your superpower and the thing the Lord uses the most. I promise you…I’m living proof of this. You will see hurt and not hesitate to try to fix it with love and a “me too.” That’s our superpower, to try even when we feel like giving up.
You may feel like you are less than your classmates because you wrestle with words and numbers, but one day the things that you wrestle with and slow you down will be the things that empower you the most to be who God created you to be. Those struggles, baby girl, are your tools and your superpower. Your bravest act will be to keep trying.
People won’t believe you when you tell them you at one time had limitations that caused you to shut down emotionally and check out. You’ll see others shutting down and you’ll try your darndest to show them how to come back on. With a confident touch you’ll say, “Come back to me,” and they will because they will know they are safe and understood.
To the momma’s crying today and shutting down:
Come back to us. Let the lights come back on in your heart. You are safe and you are understood. There is a tribe of us and you can connect with us here. You don’t know how to fix your labeled child? None of us do. But, as long as there is still breath there will always be untamable hope. This is why we need Jesus, coffee, and sometimes a low dose of Prozac.
Labels cannot tame the thing that you breathe life into. Someone’s words spoken from the span of 8 AM-3PM or your frustrated words from 3:30 PM-9 PM hold little power when love cushions the question marks and we realize that we are all just doing the best we can in the walls of the school and at home.
Do I wish I wouldn’t have needed to reset my mind from a few bad moments in my childhood and preteen years with prayer and counseling? Of course, I do. But, why on earth would I wish away the struggles that have made me pretty dang awesome, more compassionate and loving? My ministry is more powerful and necessary because I learned how to deal with a few really crappy moments. I won, they didn’t. They are not sob stories to be told, they are a battle cry that ended in victory.
Why would I wish away her sixth-grade year that sucked the life out of all of us, but especially her? I’m still wrestling with this one and trying to find some truthful positivity, but my hearts says that she will one day think that she’s pretty dang awesome and more powerful and necessary, too.
Press on, my soul sisters. You are more powerful and more necessary than you even realize.
Loving you fiercely,
E, one day you will be signing the paychecks of the people who misunderstood and tried to marginalize you. Be nice to them, they need you now and they will need you then. You need them now and you’ll need them then. I love you, baby. I want to be like you- you inspire and frighten me on a daily basis. I wouldn’t have it any other way.