Kite Girls – a letter to my pre-Tween Daughter

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up.

Pre-tween girls are kind of magical. This year I’ve embraced my daughter joining this daring phase of contradictions. She is both brave and timid, equal parts fierce and tender.

Each year I write her a birthday letter. It was spawned by the once a year letter to her birth mother that was always so emotional to write. I email these letters to a secret account she can access as an adult.

My sweet girl,

I’m sorry this is so late. Writing your birthday letter has been really hard for me this year, which is odd because for the first time, your birthday wasn’t quite so bittersweet. Watching you turn seven has been joyful.

Of course, I still wish I could slow down time, go back and do it all over, but . . .

Something changed during this year of your being six. We both began to let go.

I could feel my heart stepping back from the intense grasp of young motherhood as you began to need me less.

I’m slowly being relegated from leading lady to supporting character in your life. And I’m glad to be in the audience. You’re a show stopper, my love.

You are a show stopper, my Kite Girl, in your pre-tween glory!

But I relish the precious moments you come racing back to me, begging to sit on my lap, asking for story time, or just needing me to hold you.

Still, something about sitting under your weight, brings me back to center. Your sweet baby heaviness makes me feel lighter. Your sweaty cheek and damp hair rest against my face, begging me to press safety and love into you as deeply as you press into me.

For a moment, I catch a memory of the hours we spent like this stumbling through your infancy, but then you’re gone, butterfly flitting back to your friends, chalk drawings, summer games. And I close my eyes savoring the fading memories, like trying to hold a cloud.

I hadn’t written your letter because I just couldn’t find the words to describe the magic of watching six flow into seven. Then the perfect picture came to me – in a text message from your dad.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween girls, bravely stretching to reach the sky, but still embracing being tied to home.

Kite Girls - a letter to my pre-Tween daughter about watching her grow up. These girls 6-8 are kites, testing the sky while reaching back for our hands to hold.

And I love this picture, your brown hair blowing in the wind. This year, you became my kite girl, daring to soar on your own but happily within the safety of my reach.

I watched your creativity skyrocket. You began writing an autobiography, dedicating it to your cousin because he will still be alive when it’s finished. 😉 Thanks, kid.

Everyday you had some interesting, wonderfully silly perspective on life. Sometimes your wisdom is beyond your years.

Kite girls – precious pre-tween ladies, bravely reaching into the sky, but still tied to home. Click To Tweet

This year, you grew up, literally. It was only a few inches, but ALL legs, powerful and purposeful.

Your stepstool gradually moved away from the vanity as you no longer needed it to reach the sink. You moved out of your toddler bed into a loft that should carry you to college.

You tossed your floaties out of the pool and grabbed goggles instead.

My little Kite Girl - you tossed your floaties, grabbing goggles instead. A letter to my pre-Tween.

Six was a magical line between being baby and little girl, but at seven, you’re also becoming a young lady. You warm my heart when you befriend lonely people at the store, stopping to compliment their fashion jewelry or colorful blouse.

I’ve seen you embrace your inner tomboy and glamour girl at the same time. It’s awesome. I celebrate that you are making your own way, not letting the world’s gender expectations define you.

These Kite Girl years are the epitome of contradictions.

You go fishing with daddy and catch more fish than he does every time. You’re not afraid to touch the fish, but a bee sends you into hysterics. You’ll watch daddy gut a deer and identify every organ, but won’t eat a piece of meat with a scrap of squishy fat on it because . . . ewww.

Kite Girls are a story of contradictions, fierce & tender, brave & shy. Click To Tweet

I love watching you dressed in rainbows and sparkles play rough and tumble sheriff with the boys from the block and bravely relocate worms from the driveway to the plant beds “to improve soil quality” for our apple tree saplings.

Pre-tween questions get harder and the answers more complicated.

Questions got harder this year. How do fractions work? How do babies get into the mommy’s tummy? Why was that boy mean to me? Why doesn’t everyone love Jesus the way we do? What did God make me to do?

And I try to give you the best answers I can for where you are. I hope you’ll have some grace for me when I get it wrong and offer too little information or too much.

I’m still not ready to give you the full details on #2. For now, the daddy puts it in there is going to have to do. Sorry, not sorry.

This year, I spent too much time crying over school with you. We both struggle some days to balance this mother/daughter vs. teacher/student relationship. But I pray at the end it’s as worth it for you as it has been for me.

I’ve learned so much about teaching from you that I couldn’t learn in a classroom. Mostly, I’ve learned how to really be patient instead of pretending until I lose my temper.

I’ve learned to see you where you are and sit there with you.

I’ve learned the fear of being wrong is paralyzing, even when you’re six and there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. Pride is a killer at any age.

So we’ve both had to step back and learn to have a teachable spirit towards our mistakes instead of frustrated pride.

Letting you make mistakes is hard.  I’m teaching you to take a deep breath, regroup, and try again. It’s kind of amazing to watch you beam with pride after you persevere to learn something new.

Our new chant has become-“Making mistakes is how we grow, learning things we did not know.”

I’ve had to think more about your body image (and work on mine). I want your identity to be imperishable. I think you’re beautiful, but it was always about how much I love you, not your appearance.

And, I need to make sure you know that. Any identity in temporary beauty is building your house on shifting sand.

Matthew 7: 25 The rain fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because its foundation was on the rock.

These pre-tween years are already filled with more awareness of peers and societal pressures. I want you to have a solid identity in Christ to withstand the coming torrential storms of adolescence.

I know that I have to put God at the center of my parenting and leading if I want the identity you’re building to be one that will last forever.

Psalm 127:1 ESV /Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…

I’ve begun to see the woman you’ll become and glimpses of the friendship I pray we’ll always have.

Love always, Mom, your biggest cheerleader even from the sidelines.

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Spinning Top Mom: I can’t do it all

I was a Spinning Top Mom, trying to do it all, feeling like I was always failing. It was time to get real, and get okay with letting that spinning top stop.

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It’s time to come clean. I can’t do it all. When I try, I feel like a spinning top, twirling out of control. I can’t do it all, and I quit trying.

Are you a Spinning Top Mom? Trying to “do it all”?

Over mugs of coffee, we’ll all nod in agreement, “of course, we can’t do it all.”

But secretly, I always think, ‘but I could be doing this better, why can’t I do what that mom does? I’m a total failure at this.’

Over mugs of coffee, we'll all nod in agreement, "of course, we can't do it all." But secretly, I always think, 'I'm a total failure at this.'

And, even though we know Pinterest is a liar, we’ll still use that measuring stick to beat ourselves over all the things we can’t do.

Even though we know Pinterest is a liar, we use that measuring stick to beat ourselves up. Click To Tweet

Depending on the day, I probably present a pretty together, homeschooling, Godly mom picture, but that picture crops out the gory details.

A load of laundry has been in the dryer for three days. It is 1 p.m. and I’ve only eaten two peach slices from my daughter’s plate, and we’re probably ordering pizza for dinner.

A load of laundry has been in the dryer for three days. We're probably ordering pizza. Spinning top mom: I can't do it all!

I’ve spent an hour trying to get her to finish coloring a shape worksheet.

Some days I multi-task well, but something always has to give. I cannot make a Pinterest worthy craft, write a deep blog about mothering and faith, provide three healthy meals, clean the house, exercise (and shower again), check the mail, water the plants, have quiet time with God, lesson plan, pay the bills, etc., etc. all in one day. Something has to give – everyday.

Maybe, it’s time to really get okay with that.

Tonight, we really did order pizza because I had two repairmen in the house all afternoon. We’re all sick with a cold. I’m trying to find the groove of homeschooling. I spent too much time explaining “I don’t want to!” is not a valid excuse. It was far from a perfect day.

But when I put my daughter to bed, I asked her what she learned today. She answered, “respect, perseverance, finishing what you start, and obedience, and coloring.”

Apparently, I managed to get the most important thing done today. I loved my daughter. I loved my husband. We ate pretend fruit salad and drank tea. I watched her play and held her hand. She whispered, “I love you” into my ear. I packed his lunch and made the coffee. I had a long overdue catch up with my sister.

Some mothers seem to juggle it all.

They jog, bake, craft everyday and manage to keep all their little people alive while they do it. But their strengths aren’t my strengths, and while their picture might look perfect, perhaps they’ve got gory details hidden in the background, too.

Picture perfect moms might have gory details cropped out of the background of their picture. Click To Tweet

This summer, I’ve dropped a lot from to my do list. Trying to do it all made me feel like the hours were racing away, putting so much pressure on me to juggle and spin the rest of the day into perfect memories, that I was making myself feel crazy.

I didn’t want to spend any more time being a ‘Spinning Top Mom.’ I wanted to be in the moment with the kids as much as possible.

My daughter is in kindergarten, and we’re homeschooling. I’m simultaneously doing too much and not enough as we try to figure this out for our family, but five is already three months gone, the last of her little kid years.

While she will always be my baby, she won’t always be a baby.

I don’t want her to turn six only to realize I missed the best moments trying too hard to do too much.

Ephesians 5:16 ESV “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

I’ve got to use these days wisely. The house work needs to get done – some days, and some days it can wait. We have to triage, set priorities, and focus on what really matters for the season of life we’re in.

That mom I’m jealous of may be in a completely different place than I am, with a totally different journey. I’ve got to let those false comparisons and expectations go.

The mom I'm envying is in a different place on a different journey. Stop the false comparisons. Click To Tweet

Those are the days I remind myself, “Heaven, not Harvard.”

If I’m parenting and living for heaven, what do I need to do for today? pray, read the Bible, be present, honor God with my life; the rest will sort itself out.

As if to make my point, when I tucked her in tonight, she whispered, “You’re the best mom.” “What makes me the best?” I asked. Innocently, she replied, “You love me.” What a wise and perfect answer! I can’t be any other mom, and I don’t have to be.

I’m not a failure, I’m just a mom who is doing what matters for my family today, even if it isn’t the laundry. The spinning top mom stops here.

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