Holy enchiladas, mamas! Eight is so much trickier than I thought it would be, and I’ve realized I need a new plan. My girl is busy copping an older-than-appropriate attitude, and sauntering out of the room with a GIGANTIC eye-roll, but I thought a letter to my daughter about how much I love her and about my new plan might solve everything! Ya think?!
Yesterday I read this letter to my daughter. She got teary, crawled into my lap like she did when she was two, and we had a good, long snuggle. We got a solid five awesome minutes before we were interrupted and a sibling argument ensued. Those five minutes were gold!
Dear Sweet Baby,
My heart is aching for you right now. Your life has gotten confusing and neither one of us was prepared. I’ve been focused on when you get bigger. When you are twelve.
I’ve been anticipating the challenges that puberty will bring, but I didn’t realize that it would also be tricky right now. I’m sorry. I thought that once I was done worrying about the baby stage we would skate merrily along until middle school. Not so, I guess.
I wrote a letter to you when you were very little, and I still fiercely strive to live by every word I promised in that letter. It is more like a manifesto, but now that you are older, I see how much trickier this business of parenting has gotten.
I will be gentle with you.
When you are confused, when you are angry, and when you are sad I will fold you up in my arms as I did when you were three. Just because you are bigger does not mean that you don’t still thrive on my physical love. We all need loving touch.
When you make mistakes I will enforce consequences that make sense.
You will sit with those consequences. There will be no punitive punishments. You are never “bad,” and you never deserve punishment. Mistakes are excellent opportunities for learning to do better. I will remind you that we all make mistakes. Every day, every one of us messes up. It’s a normal part of life.
I will support you when you have difficulties with your friends.
I will stand in the background and cheer you on as you make your own decisions about your life. I will resist the urge to rush in and set right all the messiness. I will trust you to figure it out. But I will be here, supporting you.
I will set healthy boundaries for you.
I will remind you of those boundaries with gentle firmness. This may feel like I’m holding you back, but right now, I believe you are feeling a great deal of pressure to be older than you are. There is no need to rush head-long into the business of growing up. The annoying truth is that you will not see this until you are grown up. Just trust me on this one; I’m your mom and I love you.
I will remind you that the most highly held value in our house is kindness.
I will help you to be kind in what is becoming your own private life. I respect this privacy, and I will do my best to let you walk into that life, but I will also continue to insist that you treat people well. I will butt my nose in just enough to be sure that kindness is still ruling the day.
I will give you healthy food and keep you moving.
I will do my best to make sure that your body is as healthy and well fed as your brain and your spirit are. I will help you explore new activities, and new ways of stretching your body and finding your strength. I will support your interests.
I will keep you strongly tied to our tribe.
Our community keeps us afloat, and knowing that we can always turn to them helps you feel strong and supported when life gets complicated or difficult. Our people love you and care deeply for you. These people show up for you, and I will not let you lose sight of their love.
I will love you as fiercely as I have done every day of your life.
You are precious and perfect right now. You are exactly as you should be, and I am grateful every day for you, my interesting and dynamic child.