My oldest daughter is starting middle school in the fall and she’s afraid of getting lost.
The truth is, I am more scared than she is.
I got lost in middle school. Lost to the point where I stopped doing activities that made me happy and started forgetting what was important to me. And it took me years to find my way back. What if this happens to her?
She is not me, I try to convince myself. Easier said than done. Our bond is wonderful and deep and something I hold dear. But there are times I hold on too tight. I don’t always know where I end and she begins.
So how do I provide guidance without projecting my ‘stuff’ onto her?
This question was offered as a prayer. The answer I received is penned in the form of a love letter.
When you were five, you insisted you were ready to jump off the diving board. I begged to differ. However, after a seasoned lifeguard promised to get you if need be, I relented.
You jumped, taking my breath with you. When you (finally) came up from below the water, your arms were flailing around you.
I found enough air to bellow, “She’s panicking!!! GET HER!!!” at the lifeguard.
“No, she’s not. You are.” was her calm response. “She’s fine.”
You were more than fine. Smiling from ear to ear; making the freestyle stoke all your own; you were in your glory.
Despite your nervous mom and your limited swimming skills, you knew you were ready to jump. So you did. And you easily and happily made it to the ladder.
So many times I’ve watched you listen to yourself. Not to the swirling thoughts in your mind; but to the still part inside that knows what’s best for you. The ability you have to tap into your inner wisdom has astounded me.
Lately, though, you seem to be second-guessing yourself. Things that never bothered you are now causing you to worry. And you seem to forget new things didn’t used to be scary.
So, as I see it, all you need to do is remember.
Remember there is a place inside of you that has all the answers you need.
And remember to go there.
Go there if you feel pressure from peers to behave a certain way; go there if you feel tempted to compare yourself to models in magazines; go there if you feel overwhelmed from the pressures of school. Whenever you need to, go there.
This is not to say you’ll always have to go there alone. Sometimes you’ll need help getting there. Remember all the people who love you; your family, friends, teachers; who will be there to offer support when you need it.
Lastly, remember, just like jumping off the diving board, doing new things can be fun. Remember to have fun.
I’ll be waiting by the ladder when you get there. Always.