‘I remember what it was like being 13.’: Mom strives to teach daughter ‘not everything matters as much as you think’

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“The other night, I curled up next to my daughter in her bed and we talked through the day. I listened to her pluses and minuses of the day; laughing together as we talked.

I shared with her an expression. An expression filled with words she probably shouldn’t say. I shared it with her anyway, because it’s an expression that has value—and not just shock value.

I remember what it was like being thirteen. I remember the constant worry. The social stress. The fear of embarrassment. The overthinking. I remember navigating the social norms, having all the friends one day, then none of the friends the next. And never really understanding why.

And none of this was happening during a pandemic. She’s conscientious. A hard worker by nature. A rule follower who is respectful and willing to put in the work. It’s no surprise, just by the nature of who she is, she has very high expectations for herself. There’s pressure.


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Some days, it’s a lot. All of it—school, friends, socializing, and on and on and on. The pandemic is the proverbial cherry on top.

I taught her the expression because she needs to know it’s okay to feel this way. You know those moments, when you feel stuck under the weight of the world, and yet you can’t really describe how you’re feeling?

You know those times when you barely have the energy to put together a complete sentence? You know those days when you feel completely alone? Yeah. that. Well guess what, sis? It’s normal. We all feel this way sometimes.

She needs to know it’s okay to let some things go. She needs to know frustration is normal. She needs to know not everything matters as much as she thinks. It’s okay to set some things down. Also, she needs to know her mother says it. (Often.)

She needs to know she doesn’t have to attend every drama party she’s invited to. She needs to know she doesn’t have to love every activity and that’s always okay. Sometimes, we just have to do what’s needed to get by.

She needs to know no one is perfect. She needs to know it’s sometimes better to sit alone. She needs to know sometimes one good friend is better than five fake ones. Even though right now, this feels really, really hard.

She needs to remember in the grand scheme of things, elementary school is just a blip on her life’s radar. She needs to know walking away is okay.

She needs to know it’s okay if she can’t handle it all at once. She’s needs to know it’s okay to say ‘no.’ And maybe more importantly, ‘no’ is a full and complete sentence.

She needs to know she’s never alone in her feelings. It’s my job as her mother to be the one to tell her this. Whether it’s through a story with tons of words, or a simple expression of a few choice ones that gets the job done. Either way, she’s got the message.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melanie Forstall of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Courtesy of Melanie Forstall

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