As you complete your first year of middle school, I have a few things I’d like you to know:

Not everyone will get you. Be patient. You will continue to find your people.

Even if you aren’t a natural athlete, grit will be the characteristic that separates you.

When you run, you have an angel on your shoulder.

Friends aren’t meant to be collected. Good ones last a lifetime.

Wear deodorant.

Girls. It’s OK for them to be “just friends” because you are too young for romance, anyway. The good ones will secretly like your shyness.

Humility is hard. But, important.

Be Confident. It’s not cocky to embrace your strengths.

Talking is better than texting.

Teenagers are weird. And you are almost one of them. It’s OK. It’ll pass.

RELATED: Suddenly My Son Is a Teenager and I Wasn’t Ready For How That Makes Me Feel

Politely ask people to speak up.

Calling an adult “Sir” or “Ma’am” shows respect. And also points out you are not from around here. Military kids are unique in that way; be quiet during the National Anthem, face the flag, and take off your hat.

Brush your teeth.

You can mix plaids and stripes. If you go there, though, you gotta own it.

Bed-head can be a style. (But shouldn’t be.)

Find the kid who is eating alone and sit with them.

Looking people in the eyes will get easier with practice.

Dance.

Laughing at yourself is endearing, but being self-deprecating is not.

Own your mistakes. Learn and grow from them. We’ve all made them.

RELATED: 7 Things Your Middle School Daughter Needs To Hear From You

Forgive.

Always pat a teammate on the back when they put their chin down.

Chew with your mouth closed. Yes, ketchup does taste good on almost everything, but it’s messy, so use a napkin.

PE clothes should be washed more than once a week. They smell. Then you smell, and NO one likes a smelly kid.

Trust God has a great and bold plan for you.

Be you. Trying to be cool is totally uncool. Square pegs end up changing the world.

Kindness is golden.

Hold doors. Say please and thank you. Try using “You’re welcome” instead of “No problem” because serving others isn’t a chore. Develop a firm handshake but not too firm and certainly not limp.

Pray.

When you feel down, turn your gaze up.

RELATED: Dear Middle School Girls, Make Your Mistakes But Remember Who the Real You is

Read. Draw. Listen to music. Play outside. Devices make you kind of boring. Look up. Unplug. Be still.

In closing, my beautiful Battle, know you were designed perfectly imperfect. You will make mistakes. Do and say dumb things. Have some regrets. But, you will also overcome. Persevere. And we will be here to guide you, support you, and love you.

I pray someday you look back on these years and see the greatness we see.

Love,

Mom

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here! 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!

God Gave Him Bigger Feelings

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy on playground, color photo

He came home from school last week and asked, “Why do I get so angry but my friends never do? Why am I not the same?” And it broke me. Because he is passionate and intelligent and kind and intuitive and beautiful. He didn’t always seem different. We never paid attention to how he would line everything up in play. And we would laugh it off as a quirk when he would organize everything dependent upon shape, size, and color. He was stubborn, sure, but so am I. And then COVID happened, and we attributed the lack of social skills...

Keep Reading

We Have a Big Family and Wouldn’t Change a Thing

In: Kids, Motherhood
Four children in front of Christmas tree, color photo

I have just had my fourth baby. A baby who wasn’t expected but very much wanted and very much loved from the moment we found out. When we told people we were expecting, the response was underwhelming. The stream of intrusive questions would then ensue:  You already have your hands full, how will you cope with four? You’ll need a bigger car! Where will they all sleep? Don’t you own a TV? You know how babies are made right? People seemed to have such a strong opinion about me having a fourth child. RELATED: We Had a Lot of Kids...

Keep Reading

As a Mom I’m Far From Perfect, But I Hope You Remember the Joy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Happy mother and daughter on the beach

Sometimes, I think about the future when you are grown and I am gone. When all that’s left of me are photographs and memories. I know what the photographs will show. I took most of them, after all. But the memories I’m less sure of. I wonder what will stick with you after all that time. How will you remember me? One day, your grandkids will ask you about me. What will you say? Will you tell them I was always distracted? Will you remember that I looked at my phone too much? Will you tell them I didn’t play...

Keep Reading

Being a Daycare Mom Can Be So Hard

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding boy on couch, black-and-white photo

Dear daycare mom,  I know it’s hard.  To get yourself up before them, to make lunches, to pack the bags, to get yourself ready.  To go into their rooms, where they are peacefully sleeping, and turn the lights on.  To struggle to get them breakfast, get them dressed, and get them out the door.  I know it’s hard.  To have a morning rush when all you want to do is snuggle up on the couch and ease into your day.  RELATED: When a Mom is Late To Work To feel like you are missing out on their childhood at times...

Keep Reading

The PB&J that Saved the Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Table with three plates of PB&J sandwiches, color photo

It was one of those days.  One of those days when your pants are too tight, you wake up with a headache, and the kids’ rooms are disasters at 8 a.m. It was one of those days when I had to physically go into Target for our groceries since I didn’t have time to wait for pickup—I think that alone should sum up exactly the kind of day it was.  The kids were hangry. The toddler was, well, toddler-y. RELATED: Toddlers Are Human Too—And Sometimes They Just Need Grace Two minutes into our shopping trip, she had kicked her light-up rain...

Keep Reading

One Day He’ll Love Another Woman More than He Loves Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, color photo

To Benjamin, my 16-month-old son, I am everything. I am the first person that boy looks for when he wakes up in the morning and the last person he wants before he goes to bed. If he is in a room full of people he loves and I am not there, he will search for me.  If he has a problem, mommy is the solution. I am the answer to his cries. I feel confident in saying that I am the most important person in that little boy’s little world. I love it. It is an honor and a privilege...

Keep Reading

To My Sister, Thank You For Being the Best Aunt To My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood
Aunt with three young kids

“Do you have the kids’ basketball schedule yet?” you texted the other day. I sent back a screenshot of the calendar, and within an hour you responded telling me which game you’d be coming to. It was a simple exchange, but I was overwhelmed with gratitude for your love for my kids in that moment. It’s something I think often but don’t say nearly enough: thank you for being such an amazing aunt. Truly.  I know it’s not always convenient. You live three hours away and have a busy, full life of your own—but still, you show up for your niece and nephews...

Keep Reading

In Defense of the Stubborn Child

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy hanging over dock, color photo

“Lamp. Lamp. Laaaaamp,” my 2-year-old son screamed while stomping his feet. Tears were running down his face and snot was dripping dangerously close to his mouth. I put on what I hoped would be a soothing, motherly tone, “Okay, just calm down.” While trying to maintain eye contact, I slowly reached toward the tissue box. This must be what the greats like Jeff Corwin, Steve Irwin, or the Kratt brothers feel like when facing a volatile animal in the wild. The sound of a tissue being pulled from the box caused the crying to stop abruptly. His eyes flitted toward...

Keep Reading

Dear Stepdaughter, You Aren’t “Mine” but I Love You as My Own

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hug

First off, I love you. I wasn’t there the day you were born or when you got your first tooth. I wasn’t there when you took your first steps or learned to pee in the potty. But, I have loved you since the day we met, and I’ve been there for every moment since. I’ve given you baths and eventually, taught you how to shower on your own. I’ve brushed your hair, clipped your nails, and taken care of you when you’re sick. I’ve tucked you into bed and kissed you goodnight, held you when you’re sad, chased away your...

Keep Reading

I Was Meant to Be a Boy Mom

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and three boys, black-and-white photo

When you’re a little girl, you dream of the day you can pass all your Barbies and dolls on to your daughter and continue that same form of make-believe, to play dress up, do their hair, and go shopping with . . . at least I did.  You grow up, fall in love, get married, and decide to start a family and all those same emotions come rushing back about all you’ll do with your baby girl. You cut open that cake and the blue frosting peeks through, and you’re so excited that you forget all those girl dreams. You...

Keep Reading