My older daughter played her last soccer game of the season yesterday, and school is out on Thursday.
It has been a long, long year for my older daughter. School struggles, raging hormones, soccer frustrations, injury and troubled friendship waters have all been a part of her year.
To be honest, I've struggled to help her. It's possible that I've shed as many tears for her as she has shed this year. Usually in this space, I try to give all of you a small glimpse into our lives with the intent of helping you teach your kids about God using the everyday moments in your lives. Today, I simply want to share with you some of my struggle this year in the hopes that some other mom who is struggling with her child will not feel quite so alone.
You see, as the year winds down, I find that in many ways this year, I failed my sixth-grader. Sometimes, we didn't make the right decisions. Other times, we didn't help her make the right decisions. Sometimes, we didn't push hard enough. Other times we pushed too hard. Sometimes we brushed aside things that were important. Other times we focused too much on things that weren't important.
It wasn't until the past month that I really understood how much my daughter's self-confidence had been battered this year. Thoughts of "I can do this" turned into a sobbing "I'm so stupid." Confidence on the soccer field turned into "I'm the worst player out there." Her perception of her own value as a friend went from "people like me" to "if the social ladder was a food chain, I'd be a bug."
Honestly, some of the responsibility for that rests on me. I got so caught up in the busyness of our schedule and in some issues we were having with our other daughter that I missed the shattering of her self-confidence. I missed the cues she was sending me until the school year was winding down.
And, truly, sometimes I feel alone as a parent. People tell me that middle school is tough, but that's just the way it is. And I struggle with that answer because those people aren't where we are. What if it's more than just a tough transition? Most of my friends' daughters adjusted to middle school well. They haven't struggled to make friends or to find their spot.
Honestly, I look around, and I'm jealous of those moms and daughters. I'm envious that their daughters are doing so well while mine is struggling mightily. And I wonder, what did we do wrong? Where did we make the decisions that landed us here?
These days, I cling to Jeremiah 29:11: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" I know that God has a plan for my daughter. I know that He can use the difficult year she's had for His purpose. I know that she's going to come out the other side of this stronger, and we'll come out of it wiser.
I don't have any quick fix answers. I don't really have any wisdom for the situation. What I do have is the knowledge that no matter how dark the tunnel or how deep the pit, God is there. He's a light in that pit or at the end of that tunnel. He heals the broken-hearted and offers rest to the weary. He can make all things work together for His purpose.
So, today, sweet mom, if you're walking a dimly lit path with your child. If the tears that flow aren't just your child's but your own as well. If you're looking at the decisions you've made and wondering whether they were the right ones. If you're holding a broken child in your arms and your heart. Know this. Know that God has not left you or your child. He sees you. He hears you. He loves you.
Hold tight to that knowledge because there is light at the end of the tunnel even if it's hidden around a curve. Keep doing the best you can do. Keep relying on God for strength and wisdom. Because He loves your child more than you ever could, and He has an amazing plan for that child.