Take my hand. And please listen.
I’m writing this not to let you know how much I love you, and I do. So much.
Not to tell you how proud you’ve made me and how talented you are. You have. You are.
Not even to gush about how bright, intelligent and funny you are. Or how adept you are at braiding your little sister’s hair. (Seriously.) You are all those things, and more.
I’m writing you to let you know that I understand. That I care.
I understand the changes you’re experiencing. The feeling that you’re walking around in somebody else’s body. Been there. Done that. (I have the diaries to prove it.)
I understand the challenges you’re facing. School, friends, feelings, stuff. I get it. I really do.
I understand some, not all, but some of the frustrations you feel. (Because sometimes you seem frustrated all the time and I don’t get that.)
I understand that you will need me less and less with each passing day. It breaks my heart a little. But that’s life, right?
I understand that sharing a bedroom sucks. And that little brothers are annoying. (Totally with you on that one.)
I understand that you are growing up much too fast. Way too fast. And that parents are so embarrassing. I mean, God forbid I hug you or kiss you or hold your hand in public. Gawd!
I understand the pressure you feel to be accepted. To fit in. Man, do I understand that.
I understand that you are waging an inner battle between girl and young woman — not quite one or the other — happily accepting more responsibility and yearning for independence while still silently craving your mama’s hugs. Tough stuff.
But I also need you to try to understand where I’m coming from.
Understand that I am always in your corner; that I will be your cheerleader, your strongest supporter, your safety net, your shoulder to cry on.
Understand that I love you unconditionally. I will not, however, let you take that love for granted. I am, after all, a person with feelings, feelings you sometimes disregard as you wallow in your tween angst.
Understand that when you hurt, my heart aches for you. This will never change. The hurts will be different and my heart will shatter with each one. But I will help you pick up the pieces, if you’ll let me.
Understand that I notice the shift in your mood, your attitude. You don’t hide it well.
Understand that I care. And that I will be in your face faster than you can blink if I feel you are travelling down the wrong path.
Understand that I struggle each and every day to make the right decisions for you. To say the right things. I may not always get it right, this parenting thing. But I try.
Understand that, like a big chain reaction, the choices you make now will shape who you are tomorrow. Just please don’t change who you are for anyone else.
Understand that I mourn my baby girl. That tiny voice. Those bouncy, blonde curls and big blue eyes full of wonder, delight and curiosity.
Understand that I miss the butterfly kisses, squeezy hugs, belly tickles and carefree giggles. The times when we would twirl around the living room to the tune of your latest ‘original’ song about flowers in bloom or summertime and then collapse in fits of laughter.
Understand that I love seeing you grow and flourish. That independent spirit bursting at the seams. Your love of learning, your creativity and artistry, the way you devour books and knowledge.
Understand that I will clap the loudest in recognition of your accomplishments. And I may even shout your name and wave to get your attention and–gasp!–take pictures!
Understand that I will challenge you — just as you challenge me — and that it’s okay because we are both learning as we go.
Understand that I’m just as scared as you are. On the brink of something wonderful. A future full of unknowns.
Understand that one day you will, once again, reach out for my hand for all to see. And I will be there.