I vividly remember sixth grade. It was an awkward time when no one (boys or girls) knew how to react or what was going on with their bodies or minds. I hated middle school. It was a struggle for me. I never felt smart or pretty or even that I belonged. And, that’s why I dreaded it for Rosie.
Today is the last day of my child’s sixth grade year and thank the Lord, we both survived. It was a tough year- most of our friends went to another school so Rosie had to start over. She had a serious injury that knocked her off her pointe shoes and out of dance for almost four months. The boys felt that they needed to “date” the girls causing all kinds of drama. And then there was the bullying, made even worse by social media. I have to confess that there were times I didn’t think I’d make it. Middle school is so much worse the second time around. You can see the train running off the tracks but can’t stop it. So challenging for a mother.
I learned a great deal this year about myself. The kind of mom I am and who I want to be moving forward. And, yes, I made tons of mistakes. But as my child looked at me yesterday in the car and said, “I didn’t want your advice Mama. Even though you were right,” I knew that we had a successful year. Here are some of the major things that I learned as a mom.
- Girls are just as mean as they were 30 years ago and some of the moms are even worse (obviously the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree). I had step back and let my child fight her own battles, praying she’d listen to some of my advice and protect myself from some of the moms as well.
- It’s okay to empower your child to make decisions. I learned to present all the possible outcomes and step back to allow my child to own her choices. Because I’m a control freak, I didn’t know I had that in me.
- Discipline changed. For the first time, I involved my tween in the consequences when she did something wrong so we could discuss it without anger. When Rosie just handed me her phone one day, knowing what was coming, I finally understood that I was on the right path.
- Middle school is the beginning of the end. I had to adjust to the fact that my child no longer wanted to hold my hand or spend all her time with me. So, I made an active choice to fill that time with things that I love to do- play tennis, read, garden and accept that my relationship with my daughter was different, yet still wonderful.
- I had to learn to love a little differently- resting the urge to kiss her in public or pull her on my lap in private (she’s just too darn big). I learned to be satisfied with the little things and appreciate each smile I received and the positive words.
I set this year with the goal of supporting and guiding my child in a way that I wasn’t at her age. And, as I sit here getting ready to pick up my newly independent, confident kid, I feel quite successful. And, I hope she does too.
Moms, how did you (or are you) surviving the tough middle school years?