Sunflower in the room of roses

I’m borrowing this phrase from my student’s grandfather. Perhaps he borrowed it from somewhere, too. Nevertheless, it hits home with me as a woman, as a daughter, and as a mother.

Dear Chi,

As you continue in this rough time and space known as “middle school,” as you juggle life in the “tween” years between child and teenager (and, ultimately, adult), please know that I am your biggest fan.

You said yesterday that ‘the worst part about middle school is the people.’

Sure, you’ve felt the sting of the taunts from mean girls. But trust, if they must scoff at you, baby girl, it’s because there’s something lacking in them. You are a sunflower – – bright, standing strong against the elements, and ever-reaching higher for your goals. Do not let these common roses – whose beauty entices but whose thorns cause hurt and harm – convince you that you are less than you are.

IMG0008You may sometimes have days when you stare into that looking glass and scrutinize what you see. Hair, complexion, temporary blemishes might not always be to your ideal. But never for a moment think you aren’t beautiful. Your soft mocha skin, your strong crimped hair, your high cheek bones, almond eyes, broad nose, and full lips are God’s gifts. And, lest I forget to mention, your height (quickly surpassing mine), your svelt athletic figure, your ever-evolving curves of womanhood. Damn, you are stunning.

Yes, I’m your mama. And, frankly, being the parent of the one “going through” is all new to me. But I’ve been where you are. I’ve doubted my worth because someone criticised me. And I learned after countless nights – no, more like years – of feeling less than worthy of praise – that my value is not determined by others. You cannot squelch the mean-spirited intentions of everyone, but you can persevere despite and INSPITE of them. It’s really easy to say in retrospect that you can’t please everyone, but I’m going to say it anyway. Some folk aren’t happy until you are miserable. They make it their goal to crush your momentum towards yours. Believe me when I say that success is something you determine for yourself. Your best is all I ask you to give and regardless of what others may say, you will be accomplished.

You’re mad at me as I write this. You’ve told me not to share with the world my pride. And though I get it, baby girl, you need to know that my success is you. I am in awe of how you’ve matured. I am inspired by your dreams. I am humbled by your achievements.

I know we’re at that point in this mother-daughter relationship where you shy away from my confidences and share your secrets with others. Your interests in boys – the few who, as you’ve said, are not absolute ‘douche bags’ – is guarded. But what you have confided in me makes me worry. You see, you’ve admitted to stepping aside for a friend to pursue her interests. You determined you were less worthy of something than was someone else. And I just cannot understand how you don’t see that you are a prize. You are special. You are rare. And you, my Chi, are coveted. I’ll say no more ‘in public’ about that, as I respect your growing need for privacy. Understand, however, that you cannot let yourself be overlooked to please a friend. No friend would ever want you to cast yourself aside – to dull your shine – so they can glow brighter.

I love you…

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