A Letter to my Preteen on New Year's Day

Last year I wrote a letter to my 16-year-old self on New Year's Day, and this year was inspired to write something similar to my now 11-year-old stepdaughter...

Hey Jess,

This was a monumental New Year's for us - you did not accompany the family to sunrise on the beach because you had a sleepover last night with your two best buddies.

We missed you, but I have to say I am so happy for you.  We haven't talked about it much yet because I didn't want to crush your spirit before you'd even started, but middle school is pretty universally hard for everyone.  I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who didn't feel that way and although that news is comforting as an adult, it is terrifying as a parent.  And so I'm happy and I'm grateful, because I know that what gets people through (and certainly what got ME through!) is an amazing support system. And, of course, your dad and I and your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, well, we will always be here for you, but what a kid needs most of all during this time is friends.

So we missed seeing you. And it was so weird to be without you.  And we all but had to force you to leave in the morning to come to the movies with us, but at the same time I am filled with joy to see YOU filled with joy.

Keep it up, lady. Keep surrounding yourself with people who appreciate you and love you and who you can have FUN with!  These next few years are going to be filled with some turmoil, I'm sure (although your Dad and I will do our best to make it as little as possible if we can help it) so soak in all the joy and laughter and fun that you can, okay?

It is so fun to watch you come into your own more and more each day, and I pray that this year is no exception.  I loved sitting next to you at Star Wars today and sharing glances and giggles and whispered questions. I hope that we will always be able to enjoy each other's company this way, but if you blow me off a few times to go hang out with your best friends?  I'll try to remind myself that this is good and this is normal and this is important.  Feel free to remind me, too, if I need it.

I love you, Girly Q. Let's make 2016 our greatest year yet, shall we?

P.S.  Seeing you with my brand new nephew (Your brand new cousin! The lucky little dude!) warmed my heart like nothing else.  You are so special, kiddo.  Don't forget that.  <3 

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