May You Be Resilient


Dear Clara, 

This morning, I dropped you off at middle school. Your first day of 6th grade. This is a big moment - middle school is so different from elementary school. The stakes are higher, the perils and the promise are greater. I hope that your excitement and enthusiasm is met by wonderful teachers and delightful new friendships. 

I notice that when you enter a new grade, a new stage of your life, I am nearly always taken into a state of reflection on my experience at your age. As always - just in the living of your beautiful life - you are my teacher as much as I am your mother. 

"May you be shown kindness," was my prayer.

After I dropped you off, I went for a hike. Admittedly, I cried the first half of the hike. I asked (desperately) that you would be shown kindness in the new world you are entering - kindness that I did not experience.

This took me into a reflection of my own life in 6th grade:

  • My parents were newly divorced and both newly sober. These two people had no room left to deal with the broken pieces they left scattered around them in the wake of their alcoholism and divorce. In retrospect, I was traumatized - we all were. 
  • Everyone in town seemed to know what had happened - my family was the town disaster. I was shunned by my peers and treated with pity by my church community. 
  • My period started and my mother apologized to me for my female-ness - she was so sorry I had to endure such a horrible thing as having a female body. Then, in her ignorance, insisted that to use tampons, I had to have a note from the pastor of my church. {Insult, meet injury}
  • Sports, which had been such a balm to me {swimming and dancing} seemed completely overwhelming with a blossoming body and the people around me seemed to agree that a female body was not a body that was desirable, let alone strong and athletic. I quit everything.

None of these things, taken singularly or with a support structure of love and kindness, would have been earth-shattering. However, taken together, it was brutal, as school and early years can often be for humans.  

Oh, my heart. Brave girl. 

My heart opened so wide for the 6th grader I was, and with that, I felt gratitude, hope, and excitement for you. I thought about the incredible intelligence and strength of our bodies and minds to seek higher ground - at the end of the day, the experiences I had shaped me profoundly -- mostly for the better. 

From the vantage point of my 45-year old self looking back on my middle school self, I recognize I found my way to healing, eventually, with help. I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone -- and at the same time, it has made me the woman and the mother that I am today - and I love that woman. 

But the most important part of all of this is that for the love of all that is beautiful and good in this world, your life experience is vastly different than mine. No alcoholism, no abuse, no distorted messages about being female, hell, about deserving to be alive. Parents who love you, and you know it not only through our words, but our actions.

You have every reason to trust yourself and the world. I am grateful for that. Grateful and fiercely committed to your continued wellbeing, sweet girl. And I know whatever you face, you will face will grace and strength. 

As I considered this, my prayer for you changed

May you be resilient, no matter what challenges you face in your life. May you always align with the magnetic north of your inner compass. May you be kind - to others, yes, but also to yourself. May you be courageous in speaking up for what you believe in. May you and your friends celebrate each other with abandon. May you pursue your passions and open your mind and let life be the adventure it most certainly is. 

And may you know, no matter what, that you are forever and always loved, just because you were born to this earth. May you remember that your Dad and I are 100% on your side, cheering wildly for you.

May it be so. May it be so. May it be so. 

Happy first day of middle school, Clara.

I hope it was great.


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