A Letter to My 6th Grade Daughter

My Dearest Sweet Pea, 
I’m thankful you still let me call you that. I’m not sure if one day you’ll resist, but for today we still embrace it. You are about to enter sixth grade. Middle school. These years, for many, are simply the years we say, “we survived.” Middle school years are the epitome of awkwardness at times, and everyone is just trying to figure out who they are, often caring way too much about what others think. Not a lot changes with time for some people, sadly, but here’s what I want you to know: they don’t have to be years of survival. I think there’s a better way. 
You are a strong, wicked-intelligent, and beautiful girl who is quickly figuring out what it means to maneuver a complex world with love and grace. You care deeply about others, avoid unnecessary drama, and look out for those who might be overlooked or mistreated. Continue to cling to those things during middle school and beyond, and never strive to be someone you’re not. You are uniquely and wonderfully made, loved by God, and significant. Embrace the slogan “be you not them;” it is truly life-giving. 
There will always be a mean girl, or perhaps a few, in sixth grade and for the rest of your life. The world is full of them. And sometimes the mean girl might even be you. We all have a bad day now and again and say things we don’t mean; apologize and make it right. Sometimes others carry pain that makes them lash out and hurt others. You don’t have to be their friend or a pushover either, but you can extend compassion and pray for them. Choose your friends wisely, they influence far more than you think they do. 
You might notice boys in middle school and the next few years, and I’ve already heard that they’ve noticed you. Tell them you’re not interested. Seriously, there is plenty of time for this, and believe me, you don’t need the drama. You also don’t need the attention of a boy, or anyone else for that matter, to know that you are beautiful, significant, or seen. I wish I had known this when I was young. It would have saved me a lot of tears. Besides, they have cooties, remember? You told me this once before. 
We’ve said, “our family will be different” so many times. I know you may not always like it, but it’s true. We don’t usually do things the way others do, or the way our current culture says to. Embrace it with us. One day you may thank us for that. 
One last thing, know that on the hard days in middle school and beyond, this too shall pass. Everything is a season. The world is a big and beautiful place that beckons you past the hard and ugly, into the deeper beauty that awaits. Know that you are meant to be a world-changer. You can make the world better one act of kindness at a time today, even in sixth grade. You can go on to do big things in the world if you choose to do so. You don’t have to wait for those things when you’re grown either, you have the power to do them today. Start dreaming now and never stop. 
So here’s to the beginning of a new stage. I’m doing my best to embrace it as well. May these not just be the years of eye rolls, thinking your parents don’t know anything, or years of just survival. May they be fun, memorable, and life-giving. Anything is possible. 
Notebook paper image with "A Letter to my 6th Grade Daughter" printed on it
This was originally published on Sep 12, 2017
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Jody grew up in a small town in Central Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University, traveled to Africa for three months and, upon returning, moved to Montana to be near her then fiancé. They lived in Bozeman, Montana for nine years working on the Montana State campus in full-time ministry. They now have lived in SE Portland for nearly eight years and work part-time with the same faith-based non-profit. She is also now a business owner and helps others find health and happiness through Plexus. She has been married for 16 years and they have two beautiful kids. Their 11 year-old daughter is a miracle biological child after years of infertility, and their son 7 is a miracle child through the gift of adoption. Jody loves living in beautiful Portland where flowers are always in bloom and there is always an adventure around the corner to be had. She loves Jesus, coffee, a good book, deep conversation with people she loves, being intentional to love those around her, hosting events in their backyard, sausage, beer, traveling, and being a wife and mom. The beach is her happy place. She also blogs occasionally at jodymccomas.com about motherhood and ministry.