Dear daughter,
I know this age is hard. I can see the confusion in your face. The agitation in your decisions. The uncertainty in your steps.

You're no longer a child, running blissfully through each day chasing only joy. You're becoming aware.

Aware that people are looking. Aware that you can't make everyone happy. Aware that your choices are becoming trickier and the consequences more complicated.

I know that this is an age where you feel lonely. Unworthy. Scared. Insecure. It's so hard.

How do I know this? Because, my sweet girl, I remember this age too well.

The girls are sometimes mean. The boys too. You're not sure who you are. You're definitely not sure who your friends are. You're learning adult-sized lessons in your child-sized body and sometimes all you can do is cry at the enormity of what you're expected to handle already.

Know this: If I could, I would take it all on again for you. If I could, I would stand in your day, putting gossip in its place and walking with my head held high. I would smile in the face of bullying, knowing it is nothing more than a cowardly act to hide pain and jealousy. My instinct is and always will be to protect you from harm.

But I can't.

All I can do is be your mom, open my arms, and make you feel safe here. I thought being that age was the most difficult years of growing up, but it wasn't. The most difficult is watching you have to go through it. Knowing what is coming your way and knowing I can't stop it.

These years are so important though. The struggle will teach you things about yourself you couldn't learn any other way. I can't tell you how important it is to be honest, to trust yourself, to feel with your whole heart even if it means it will get broken. Those are just words though until you experience it for yourself.

So I'm sorry baby, but there will be times when I let you fall. There will be times where I make you face your decisions head-on. There will be times where I give you the look that says "we talked about this" and you'll have to accept the choices you made and the repercussions that follow.

There will also be times where I let things slide. Things you expected to get into trouble for because I remember how hard it is to do the right thing. And I'll remember that there are still times right now, as an adult, as your mom, where I don't know how to do the right thing either.

I will be your biggest cheerleader, but I cannot be a brick wall that blocks you from pain and problems. It will hurt me to watch, but you will make it. I know you will. You already have inside of you all the makings of an incredible young woman. Strength and softness, intelligence and courage.

I'll push you to do things that scare you and hold you tight when your heart is broken. There's no way to fully prepare you for all that lies ahead, but every day I will try to think of ways I can make it just a little easier.

I remember this age. I remember these feelings. I will try to remember that the best thing I can do for you right now is to be open and listen and try to let you learn and grow past it.