A few weeks ago I received an email from our church’s KidZone that left me a little in shock and awe. The first line read:
“Dear 5th Grade Parent, It’s hard to believe your 5th grader is moving to Middle School!“
At first I thought there had been some kind of mistake. I don’t have any kids in middle school…
Then I realized I did. And I was astonished.
Where did the time go?
How did my baby get so big so fast?
What does this mean?
I’m not ready for this!
I went with my husband and my daughter to the meeting for new middle school youth group families hoping and praying that they would say something inspiring and reassure me that nothing was going to change.
My hopes were dashed as they started talking about their program and their plan to help my child as she propels into adulthood. I listened intently to their well planned out youth design. I was and continue to be grateful that the middle school ministry leaders ARE prepared for this next step.
But by the end of the meeting I still felt like I wasn’t ready.
I cried. As far as I could tell I was the only parent in tears.
The feeling of embarrassment wasn’t enough to override the feeling of loss.
My husband laughed at me, but in a kind, teasing way that told me he wasn’t ready either.
My daughter, my strong, perpetually independent daughter, my beautiful baby girl,
Looked up at me with sadness and apprehension and whispered “I’m not ready either, Mom.”
But then she went with the youth leaders and played dodge ball and after that she wasn’t sad or afraid anymore.
They made her feel safe and excited. And I spent the rest of the evening telling whichever youth leader would listen how beautiful and strong and smart and talented my daughter is. Because apparently I am that parent.
And at their first youth meeting on Sunday morning she found out that she gets a big pancake breakfast. EVERY weekend.
And I’m the tiniest bit jealous. And wishing I could become a middle school youth leader. And feeling guilty because I wasn’t expecting to have a new baby at the same time that my oldest was going into middle school. And I want to be there to go with her to everything, but the baby needs to eat and needs me near.
And I feel torn in two.
And I know God’s plan is here somewhere, but I don’t really understand it.
But I’m grateful that the middle school youth ministry has a plan and a great direction.
And I’m thrilled that my daughter has grown up to love God and is now going to get to know Him even better.
And that she’ll have fun at the same time.
And that she knows that I love her.
And that she’s not really ready to grow up yet.
And I’m so proud of her.
So grateful for her strong independence and willingness to do the hard things.
So inspired by the way, at 11, she knows who she is.
She knows who she wants to be.
And she’s so comfortable in her own skin.
And how she seems so much older than I was at 11.
So much wiser. So much kinder.
And I know that each moment with her is a blessing.
A gift. A grace. Completely undeserved.
And I pray- I beg God to help me see her.
Not as the baby that she’s been, but as the brave young woman she’s becoming.
Because she is beautiful and bold and I don’t want to hold her back.
And I think back to when I cried that first day of preschool,
In the car so that she wouldn’t see me and feel afraid.
To that first day of Kindergarten when she insisted on riding the bus to school,
All by herself like a big girl.
And how well she’s always paved the way for her younger siblings.
And that she’s someone they can all look up to.
And I’m so grateful.
And I look at how the middle school boys look at her.
And how they think she’s fun and just want to be around her.
And I’m so, so, so grateful for her crazy infatuation with cats.
And I think to myself that it’s OK to encourage that obsession just a little longer.
Because I’m not ready too look any further into the future today.
Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
~1 Corinthians 13:11