You were born in a brightly lit room, surrounded by a flurry of activity. You were rushed to the heated bed where the nursing staff could ensure you were healthy and thriving. You cried because of the loud sounds, the commotion, and the chaos.
Once swaddled and resting in my arms, you were quiet, curious, and content. It was precisely how it should be.
You were brought home in a car seat that we accidentally buckled you into incorrectly. You cried because we hurriedly tried to get you safely to your new home.
As new parents do, we read books and kept track of dates when you’d reach the next milestone. You smiled on day two (which surprised the nurses but not us), laughed at four weeks, sat up by yourself at five months, used your voice for real words at six months, and walked at thirteen months. Each milestone represented a time we yearned for and helped guide you to achieve. From one stage to the next, rushing to the next thing.
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Now that you are 14, although it came from a good place (and some of it was necessary), I realize the rushing is in exact contrast to what I wish most for you: A life of being fully present in the moment while being intentional with your time. This seemingly comes naturally to you and is something I admire about you. But just in case the urge to speed things up is starting to seep in, here are some thoughts . . .
Don’t rush to get your driver’s license. Although it will provide you much-deserved freedom, some of my favorite time with you is in the car, driving you places, laughing about something random, singing to the Hamilton soundtrack, talking (or not talking) about what happened in school that day, and just being silent in your presence are some of the small moments that fill our hearts in significant ways. So, let’s enjoy this now and always—even someday when you’re driving me around. I’ll be excited for you when you pass your driver’s test—you drive a four-wheeler and snowmobile like a pro, and I know you enjoy it!
Don’t be in a hurry to start high school. Middle school has been challenging, but in the past year, I’ve seen you grow stronger and look to your intuition more than ever. Through the difficulties of this time, which are so common but still heartbreaking, we are having some critical conversations that will help build a foundation of self-empowerment and strength.
Don’t rush to use social media. Even though you’ve already had access to some, you would agree that at 14, you (and your friends) should have waited longer. So instead of using your time engulfed in what others might be doing, keep being the kid who prefers to play outside, use your imagination to create or build, and turn to your own mental devices. Continue reading, practicing piano, and playing with the little kids in the neighborhood because you can turn to those passions for peace and comfort throughout your life.
Don’t rush to fit in. It’s understandable to want to be a part of a group of friends. It’s also a fact that true friends love you for who you are inside and what you have to offer from your heart. Good friends don’t focus on what you look like, wear, buy, or post on TikTok. Stay clear of those kinds of people. Instead, spend your time with people who lift you as much as you lift them. Stand for what is right for you, even if it means standing alone. Once you get good at that, your people will find you. You’re already starting to see this play out.
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Take your time having a boyfriend or getting married. Let all this big stuff happen naturally. Be the wise girl you’re learning to be about who you trust to give your heart and time to. In the meantime, enjoy getting to know new people, learning from others, and being open to love and friendship in all forms. Most importantly, take time to understand yourself and forge a path your heart desires fully. Trust your gut, and don’t let anyone rush you into any decision. (Sidenote: For any friend you come across who makes you laugh consistently, keep them close. They are gold.)
There will always be challenges. Learn to take your time and enjoy life while solving them. Even on a bad day, do something good for yourself and enjoy the now. Whether buying fancy cupcakes at the local bakery (or making them yourself), spending time in a bookstore, or listening to music—store them as a habit in your back pocket and pull them out when needed.
Believe it or not, I was 14 once, and I wish someone back then would have told me to slow down and embrace the present a little more. Or they did, and I didn’t take heed as much as I should have. Coincidentally, and thankfully, I learned these things a little later in life . . . mostly from watching you.