The other day I walked my eldest child through the Middle School doors for a sneak peek day before school begins. I could not help thinking I was walking her through the belly of the beast, a new unfamiliar territory for her, but one we all remember not so fondly. You ask the average person and they tell you Middle School sucked. I know for me it did. Those were the years of first loves, big drama, lanky legs, wet tongues, clunky braces--really, a recipe of pure adolescent awkwardness. As I watched my daughter fumble with the pad lock, my shallow breaths and sweat had nothing to do with the combination of numbers, but rather the bumpy road that lie ahead.
Middle School is tougher on parents than kids, I think. Kids are excited for the new change, everything around them and on them (hello, puberty!) is changing. Yes, there are times that are laden with tears or hormonal rants, but everyone around them is changing, developing not only physically, but also finding their voice in the sea of awkwardness. That is a really beautiful thing, but also very hard as a parent because allowing them to change means letting go of this child you've nurtured for 11 years. They are craving independence and it's hard to give it because until they cross the threshold of Middle School, they still seem little. And yes, they are still, however watching my girl walk through the crowded, rather smelly (again, hello puberty!) Middle School halls ahead of me with her friend, her new haircut, and adorable outfit, I knew we are navigating through uncharted waters. I know some days will be full of pure sunshine, others dark and stormy. I know the excitement will wear off and reality will set in. I know we will both long for easier homework days and less dramatic happenings.
I also know that this girl of mine is a million times stronger, braver, and resolute in who she is than I ever was. Her courage to be herself inspires me to do the same and I'm so excited to let go, loosen my grip, watch her soar and be there when she tumbles.