Letters to Everett: There is (lots of good) life after middle school

Thank God, right? Not that I know what it’s like from a boy’s perspective, though I’m getting schooled in that as your mama.

But from a girl’s point of view, there isn’t much to love about the body change, social scene, and confusion that is part and parcel of that season of life when you sort of miss your Barbies and Legos, but you dare not admit that to any of your friends. Who, by the way and in point of fact, are just as emotional and insecure (and trying to hide it) as you are, while everyone tries to act older and cooler even though none of you are fooling a soul.

And that, my son, is why your dad and I go to the trouble and expense to host so many events for you and your friends at our house.

It is not, as some appreciative and well-meaning parents tell me after I host a gathering, because I am “the best mama ever.” Far from it (oh let me count the ways, anytime you want to have a chat that’s raw and real – and on that note, thanks be to God for prevenient grace, and heaps of self-awareness).

It is because these tender ages are tough as all get out, and you kiddos need ample opportunities to practice and polish your social skills, to learn and demonstrate proper social graces, and for Heaven’s sake, to figure out in a safe and low-risk environment how to handle peer pressure and how to resolve conflict.

It’s a practical petri dish of all the things, because you’ve all got far more in common than you realize, and there is something really confidence-building that happens within all y’all when something starts to go sideways (almost always a miscommunication, as will be the case for most of your adult lives, too – trust me), and you’re able to work it out, amicably.

It also gives us lead ins for all sorts of healthy, life skill conversations. The kinds of things that families should talk about, but that might not come up in the banal every day.

And it gives us reason to connect what we learn on Sunday mornings with what we experience every other day of the week, within ourselves and with others. Can I get an amen for giving grace, especially when it feels like the last thing you want to do?

The other reason we host these get-togethers is to pay it forward. I am so thankful for the kind, good example-setting adults who pour into you, and I know that growing up, I needed responsible adults who cared about me outside of my own family too.

It really does take a village. Many of those precious souls from my own childhood are still some of my favorite mentors and humans to this day. Maybe I will be or won’t be that for friends of yours (that’s up to God), but while you’re all stumbling through adolescence and trying not to fall flat on your face, you can bet your boots I will be welcoming and pouring into your friends and acquaintances as others so beautifully and selflessly demonstrated for me.

Life can be hard and random and downright cruel, kiddo.

None of us know what is waiting for us just around the corner – good, bad or indifferent. I’m just grateful beyond measure for the time we have together, and I hope to sow far more seeds of love and light and what it means to walk by faith than you will ever need to overcome anything this nutty world can throw at you.

Love you buddy,


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