Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rite of Passage

My Mom- The best woman I know. My friend- who I have watched work miracles by sheer force of will. Me.

Sometimes as a mom, I get it all wrong (like this). Lots of times actually. But just like EVERY mom who loves her kids, I have moments that are brilliant. If you're a mom, acknowledge to yourself that sometimes you are BRILLIANT! You are doing the hardest job on earth and sometimes you get it right! On the heels of my parent teacher conference debacle, I thought I'd share an idea that worked out well. I have a degree in Human Development. I love every stage of growth in children. I find it amazing. When my oldest daughter reached age 11 it dawned on me that her childhood was rapidly coming to a close. Soon she would be a teen, then a woman. There are cultures that assist in the transition from childhood to adulthood in powerful, effective ways. These cultures are filled with capable, confident teens that don't manifest the angst and turmoil we accept as a normal part of development in our culture (read this to find out more - changed how I parent). I was unwilling to join a primitive society to create this for my teens. I needed another way. I wanted to create a rite of passage into adulthood. The beginning of menstruation was a logical time to do it. I wanted something more meaningful than taking my daughter shopping and out for lunch when she started her period. I wanted something that acknowledged the dramatic change she was making from child to adult. I wanted it to be inspiring, to offer guidance. 
My Daughter- age 11
My life is FULL of amazing, capable, gifted women. They are strong. They are tender. They are wise. They are silly. They are beautiful. I emailed these women- my mom, grandmas, aunts, friends and some of my daughters youth leaders. I asked them each to write my daughter a letter. I said, "Your letter could include advice or memories from your teenage years, what you learned or wish you had known when you were a teen. You could send a favorite quote or thought that has been uplifting for you.  If you’d like to share what womanhood means to you, that would also be great. I hope to make this a celebration for her. I want it to provide the guidance and inspiration that our society sometimes fails to deliver at this intense time of change. You are each women I admire and look up to and I am grateful that both Madelyn and I have you as friends and examples."
My daughters box of letters

It took awhile to collect the letters. I tucked them all away in a photo box and waited. When the time arrived, we spent an afternoon together reading the letters. They were everything the women who created them were - tender, wise, funny; in a word BRILLIANT! Teens don't always let you know in the moment how much you or the things you do actually mean to them, but I could tell my daughter loved the letters. It has been over a year now since I gave the letters to my daughter. A few weeks ago, we came home from church and my daughter said, "I am going to my room to read all my letters again." That is teenager for: "These letters are amazing! I love them! They are so helpful to me!" 
My daughter now
PS. Here are some excerpts from the letters my daughter received:

". . . don't confuse pretty with hot. Beauty is something that comes from within. It is confidence in your divine heritage and values. That kind of beauty is inspiring to others and draws people to you for the right reasons. Hot, on the other hand is a commodity. Our society today elevates an 'ideal' look that is not always in line with what is right. Many of your friends will try to be hot instead of pretty. Don't sell yourself short, by changing who you are and what you believe to get the attention of others."

"You were not only born on the brink of a new century, you were born at the dawn of a new millennium. And what an amazing millennium it promises to be for any girl willing to work and dream, which you are. You are fortunate. Many have been the times in this planet's history that women have been excluded from politics, business, career opportunities and an education. In fact, women have often been denied the most basic of personal and human rights. Yet through the ages, women have still managed to harness the powers of heaven and the mysteries of nature to create incredible human beings, hearty meals, sturdy clothes, life lessons, warm homes and love-filled families. That is because we are amazing."

"A few thoughts about friends and dating: I thought dating was fun in high school. But looking back the most fun that I had was hanging out with my group of friends. I had way more fun having us all there than I did for the short months I had a serious boyfriend. If I could change it, I would never have had a boyfriend in high school. Have fun with good friends who make you laugh. If boys are too shy to ask you out OR they are all punks (which most high school boys are) - don't worry because you are beautiful and you will have lots of opportunities to date in college."

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