A birthday letter to my almost 11 year old.
How in the world are you turning 11 in just a few days? I feel like it was just yesterday that I was pregnant with you, dreaming about what you’d be like when we finally got to meet you, painting your very purple nursery, washing tiny little clothes that ended up being too big for you because you were so little when you were born, reading every parenting book I could find so that I could be the perfect mom for you. And then you made your way into the world with a 40+ hour labor that ended with perhaps the last time in modern medicine that forceps were used. You emerged dramatically, with the cord around your neck, tiny, a little bruised from the forceps, but perfect. And even though I read all those books and grew up babysitting your Aunt and all the neighborhood kids, I was clueless about being a mom. I couldn’t believe they’d just let us take you home, in our car, by ourselves. Suddenly this world that I had lived in for 27 years was a whole lot scarier. Even though I had gained this incredible, beautiful baby girl, I lost a little bit of light. I lived in fear of messing you up, of breaking you, of ruining you. In hindsight, I had something pretty scary called postpartum depression, but when you were born people weren’t so open about things like that and for me to admit that I had something like that, or that I needed help? Oh that wasn’t going to happen. That might be my biggest regret of your first year. Not all the mess I created with holding you constantly or rocking you to sleep every night, but the darkness that I let myself stay in because I was too proud and terrified to put into words what I was feeling. And now, as you are weeks away from middle school, I think what I most want to make sure that you know is that it’s sometimes ok to not be ok. But mostly that it’s ok to ask for help. Middle school is big stuff. It’s new classes and concepts and schoolwork that maybe you won’t finish before almost everyone else in your class like last year. It’s new emotions and periods and growth spurts, feet that suddenly feel like clown feet and hands that knock over glasses like you’re a two year old. It’s eye rolling and one word answers. But it can also be deeper, truer friendships, bedtime heart to hearts with your mom, conquering the “designed to kill people” water slides, setting BIG goals and hitting them. It’s also a time to hang tight to the truths about who you are. There will be friends who are suddenly boy crazy or who want to try things that you know don’t feel right, and it will be hard to say no to being a part of it all. I know, because believe it or not, I was a middle schooler once too. I made some poor decisions. I was lucky because I had a mom I could call and who cheered me on every day after school and a step mom who loved me and let me cry about boys or grades, but sometimes even that wasn’t enough. I didn’t always share what was going on because I wanted to be the good girl, the one who didn’t bother or worry and unfortunately I carried that habit into adulthood. I see that part of me in you, sweet Audrey, but you have something that I didn’t: Jesus. For me, without Jesus, it was too easy to listen to what the world had to say about who I was or who I was supposed to be. And the world is oh so wrong more often than not. So here’s what I want you to remember, on those days when you aren’t ok and you just can’t bring yourself to ask for help just yet, and you don’t feel like talking to me, or your dad. On days that you feel alone and like no one understands you, know these truths:
God’s love for you will never change. God made you and God doesn’t make mistakes. He knows you better than anyone and he knows your thoughts before you speak them. You are adopted and redeemed through your faith in Jesus and there is nothing that you can do that will take that away. Period.
Don’t be afraid to try & fail. Mistakes are opportunities for growing. My biggest regrets in life are not the things that I tried and failed at doing, they are the things that I was too chicken to try. Sometimes those failures are the stepping stones to incredible success. Learn from everything. You’re already so much braver than I was at your age; how you’ve stepped into theater this year, how you push through tough subjects and projects. We are so proud. Keep having courage.
God’s plan for Audrey doesn’t look like God’s plan for Brooklyn, or Lynlee or Madison or Adrian or Eric. Listen to this one closely. You are unique. You are one of a kind. We’ve talked about this verse before, but it’s worth repeating. “For your created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:13-14. God didn’t make an army of clones like they did in Star Wars. He made each and every single person unique. I believe that the Holy Spirit decides what gifts to give to us. And get this, they aren’t all the same. Rest in knowing that if you are not like everyone else at times that it’s a really good thing.
Real love does not look like it does on Liv & Maddie. This one may be a few more years off for you, but it’s good to learn now. Real love is not a romantic comedy or a drama. Real love should always make you feel safe, valued and equal. This goes for both romantic love and friendship love. Never settle for anything less. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Happy Birthday Munchkin, I love you.