An Open Letter to My Daughter Starting Middle School


Middle School

To My Daughter,

Welcome to middle school. These are exciting years of change and growth. You know you’ll always be my little girl and I will protect you whenever I can. That said, I can’t protect you from growing up so it’s time to get real or I would be doing you a disservice.

middle schoolYour parts are about to grow and not at the same rate. Let me take you back to my middle school years. Suddenly my ears got quite large. The rest of my head did not. My feet grew, too. My legs grew with them but did not gain any weight. If you can imagine a piece of spaghetti stuck in a size 9 shoe, you get the picture. I don’t tell you this to terrify you. I tell you this because you know I am quite well-proportioned today. At some point, my head grew and my ears already had their time so they held steady. My legs filled out and I gained some general weight to make my limbs look less like pasta. My feet are still pretty big so it doesn’t all work out perfectly, but it does all work out.

You have great friends. Hold them close. Their laughter will carry you through these changes. They will be going through the same growth. Some of them before you, some of them after you, and some at the same time. Like your sporadically expanding body parts, this can cause some awkwardness. Whether you’re with a friend who wants to talk about her crush, or one who still wants to play American Girls, embrace it. You can enjoy all of those things at the same time.

Trust your gut. As you begin to confide less in me, and more in your friends, pay attention to how things make you feel. Usually, the words or actions that feel wrong, are wrong.

Be forgiving of yourself and your friends during this time. Everyone is experimenting with who they want to be and there will be some trial and error. If you hurt a friend tell them you’re sorry. If they hurt you, accept their apology. 

Don’t ever sell yourself out for popularity. The thing with status is that it will keep you up at night trying to maintain it. I think we both know you’d rather be kept up at night by a good book. The kids who fight to be popular in middle school do not come out on top in life. If you don’t believe me, I have a Facebook feed to prove it.

You will try a lot of new things, new looks, maybe even makeup in these middle school years. Don’t do it on picture day. Trust me on this one. Unless you are really trying to nail down those awkward years for the graduation photo board, when picture day arrives just brush your hair and teeth and smile. Try the Sia bow if you want but DO NOT do it on picture day.

In these years, I’ll try to give you space. Just keep in mind when you are sad or confused or just feel like it’s all changing too fast, I’m here. I’ll snuggle you and tell you a story about your little kid self or a horror story of my own adolescence to make you laugh.

Finally, keep in mind that I’m a great resource. I’ve been navigating boys, friendship, boobs, face wash, and periods for quite a while now and I’m ready to impart my wisdom. 

Love, Mom


Originally posted on Aug 25, 2021

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Katie moved to Portland from Chicago 5 years ago. She has a 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son as well as a 21-year-old stepdaughter. She is a freelance advertising producer, blogger, and avid school volunteer constantly adjusting to find balance. When she isn’t shuttling kids to sports or navigating college applications she can be found at one of Portland’s amazing coffee shops reading some YA fiction or out for a run contemplating life and why Portlanders don’t like to cross the river. You can follow Katie on Twitter and Instagram @iportlanded and read her occasional musings on her personal blog at