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Parenting Milestones :: They Don’t Have to Be Landmines

Our family is experiencing some major parenting milestones. Last month, my husband added another line to our cell phone plan, because we now have a child with a cell phone! What?!? Last week, my oldest walked out the doors of her elementary school for the last time as a student, and this past Sunday she moved up to the junior high ministry at our church.  As I am typing this, she is up in her room giggling and talking all things junior high with two friends that she texted to come over. Meaning, I had no contact with their parents before said arrival at my house. No getting the phone number of the other mom and then awkwardly arranging a playdate. Nope, she handled it all one her own. 

We are smack in the middle of the kid-to-pre-teen transition — in the thick of it! We are maneuvering all the changes all at once {and I do mean all the changes}, and if I am being honest, I am a little terrified of this stage of parenting. I always thought I would rock as a parent to teenagers, because I love hip-hop and sarcasm {obviously the perfect formula for teenage parenting}. But, as this season becomes a reality, I am growing less and less confident in my love of hip-hop carrying me through.

I am worried that the once sweet little girl in the carseat in the back seat who I wished many times would just stop talking for one second, may actually stop talking to me. 

I am worried that some hormonal boy will say something to make her question her body image … and then I will have to hurt him. 

I am worried that she won’t understand that sometimes stupid decisions can follow you far longer than they should, and while it isn’t fair, it is reality. 

And for a few days leading up to her fifth grade graduation, I found myself almost paralyzed by these worries. I found myself in a denial of sorts, just pretending like it wasn’t happening. But, then I remembered that while yes, all the things I am worried about are possibilities, there is also the possibility that this will be the greatest time of growth in her life. That while the conversations may look different, she may still talk my ear off. She may not only make wise decisions for herself, but lead her friends to do the same. 

Parenting Milestones :: They Don't Have to Be Landmines | Houston Moms Blog

While there may be some people that don’t always see her greatness, there are people that already do. So, I decided to try something, something that was either going to be awesome or terribly awkward. Luckily, it turned out to be the best parenting decision I have made so far in this 11 year journey… 

Over Memorial Day weekend, I invited all my daughter’s teachers, from Pre-Kindergarten to 5th grade, over for dinner. The only thing I asked in return was that they would write her letters of encouragement as she heads into 6th grade.

I realized that I can waste time worrying about hypothetical situations, or I can spend time celebrating what is happening right now, by reminding my daughter who she is. And not just who I think she is, but what others have seen in her from the time she was 4 years old.

I made Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Spaghetti and 14 of my daughter’s teachers all sat around our dining room table with my daughter and talked about everything from preschool to robotics club. They talked about junior high and how much they were going to miss seeing her in the hallways of the elementary school, but can’t wait to see her back when she comes to programs for her younger siblings. They laughed with her, hugged her, and just overall made the night about her. It wasn’t fancy; we ate on paper plates. There was no agenda and I made brownies from a box, but it was so special and the perfect way to end elementary school and say hello to junior high

Parenting Milestones :: They Don't Have to Be Landmines | Houston Moms Blog

After everyone left, I asked my daughter if she wanted to read her letters. I was prepared for her to read them alone, but to my surprise she asked if we could read them together. This particular weekend she was also pet sitting, so she read them out loud to me in the car on our way to her pet sitting job. While she read I tried to hold back the tears. I could literally hear it in the voice of my little girl, her spirit being filled up. With each letter, her soul inhaled a fresh breath of life. Letter after letter, affirming who she is and prophesying who she is going to be. But most importantly, I see in her face that she also believes the truth of the words that were written about her. She believes that the girl in the letters is special and smart and is going to make a difference.  

Milestones are like landmines, they sneak up on you and can destroy your joy as a parent if you are not careful. But here is my challenge to you: don’t let them destroy you. Whether you like it or not they are going to happen. Embrace them. Celebrate them. And invite others into the celebration, and always, always, ALWAYS look for ways to speak life into your child. Someone is going to tell them who they are, so make sure that someone is you! 

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