My oldest starts high school this year. Her future stretches out wide in front of her, and as her mom, I can see my role shrinking. Which is how this motherhood gig is supposed to happen, I hear. But that doesn’t make it any easier on my heart as I watch her step into who she is. And here is what I want her to know.
Dear Freshman Daughter,
I know you are excited about High School! You have been dreaming of this moment since Kindergarten. You are excited about the promise of metal lockers, and the freedom to choose your classes. More freedom in where you go, who you are with, and when you come home. So far, I have known all of your friends. I have watched you grow up with people who, for the most part, have had your best interests at heart. Until now, I haven’t had to worry about you catching a ride with an inexperienced driver. I was your default best friend, confidant, chauffeur and protector.
So forgive me if I am less excited about this transition, and please show me grace when I worry. I still see you as a stubborn two year old with Shrek pigtails and your lifelong mantra of “I do it myself!”
You have a good head on your shoulders. Use it. High school is the first part of your life that really counts for your future. Do your homework; turn it in. Pay attention and don’t let the socialization overtake actual learning.
Speaking of socialization, don’t forget the friends who stuck with you through elementary and middle school. Welcome new friends and delight in getting to know more people who share your interests. But the friends who have been there through beginning band and your sweatpants-every-day phase? They are worth keeping. Keep them close, and don’t let the petty stuff tear you apart. There is room for everyone, so be inclusive. And remember, the success of others doesn’t diminish you in any way.
Don’t be afraid to fail; it doesn’t make you “less”, it makes you human. Now is the time to test your wings. Try new things and fail gloriously. You learn the most during times of failure. I have your back, always, but especially for the next four years as you transition to adulthood. Don’t ever hesitate to ask for help if you need it.
Boys. Can we not? Okay, maybe that’s unrealistic. But sweet girl, don’t make them your whole world. You have spent your whole life being ridiculously independent and marching to the beat of your own drum. Now is the age when that skill finally pays off! Your heart may get broken; you will survive it. You may break some else’s heart; do your best to be kind but don’t be afraid to end a relationship when you need to.
My final piece of advice as we stand on the cusp of high school is slow down. Enjoy this first year of high school, in all it’s awkward glory. Don’t live four years ahead of yourself. Stay present in the moment. Enjoy the inside jokes, the junk food, the new friends. Play your heart out as you march with the band. Go to school dances. Cheer at pep assemblies. Volunteer for things. Be involved in as many things as you can, but only if you truly enjoy them. Please know that I am standing in the wings, cheering you on. I am fiercely proud of the amazing young lady I see in front of me, and I am cherishing every second of this new stage with you. Good luck, my darling girl. I can’t wait to see who you become over the next four years.