Only Four More Summers

In just a matter of a few days. I will be in the seventh layer of hell known as back to school. My family will sluggishly wake up and slowly go through the motions as I yell “hurry, we are going to be late!” no less than 68,603 times. While some parents relish in sending their kiddos back to school, it kicks us in our teeth every year. 

Gone are the leisurely wake up times, and lounging all day. The hustle bustle begins and always leaves us in its wake. While that is enough to make me want to ball up in a corner and cry, something far worse dawned on me recently. That hustle bustle that I have spent years dreading? It is nearing an end. The thing I have cursed for years will soon be something I long for. After this dreaded event of rushing everyone around the house for the first day of school, I will have only four more left with my daughter. Four. As in, four, three, two, one! Even typing that makes my heart clench in my chest. Therefore, as I prepare myself for this, I would like to prepare my daughter.

My dearest Ella,

With you being our first born, we entered into parenting on a wing and a prayer. And here we are, nearly 14 years later and we haven’t killed you yet. Yay, us! As I look back over the years and think on the few we have left with you under our roof, I wonder if I have done everything I could. Raising you has felt like more of a responsibility than raising your brother. Not in a bad way. In a way where I feel more compelled to teach you certain things.Brother lessons: don’t pee on everything. Your lessons: far more weight to it.

How do I teach you to be a strong woman, but not overpowering? How to use your voice, but not silence others? How to be flexible, but not be walked on? How to know your worth, but not be cocky? How to cook, but never let anyone know you know how so you don’t ever have to do it. You know, the important stuff!

Now more than ever, as you enter middle school I hope you know a few things:

  1. Your opinion matters. You have amazing ideas and should never feel silenced. Speak up.
  2. Teenage boys are dumb. They just are. Stay away.
  3. Reputations are easily built and hard to change. Be known for the right things.
  4. Don’t be shy. Look around for someone that needs a friend. Be that friend!
  5. Don’t be a mean girl. People may act like the mean girl is popular, but they really like the nice ones. 
  6. Care more about your character than your popularity.
  7. It is possible to be kind and strong. People will often not link the two. But you can be both. You better be both!
  8. Less makeup trumps caked on makeup.
  9. Your friends will disappoint you. And news flash, you will disappoint them. Make up and move on.
  10. Your group of friends will change, and that is OK. Learn from everyone and let them all learn from you.
  11. Teenage boys are dumb.
  12. Learn to laugh at your mistakes. Everyone embarrasses themselves at some point.  The bigger deal you make about it, the bigger deal others will make about it.  Learning from the mistake is key, as is laughter…always choose laughter.
  13. Going along with the crowd is just as bad as doing it.
  14. Teachers will be easier on you if you are easier on them. Cut them some slack, they have a room full of crazy hormonal kids
  15. No, you can’t have social media. 
  16. Words matter.  Nice words, mean words… they cannot be unsaid. Choose them wisely.
  17. Never give someone more power than they have earned or they deserve. That includes power to occupy your thoughts and your heart.
  18. Teenage boys are dumb.
  19. Ending numbered lists at 19 makes you wild and crazy. Be wild and crazy.

Ella, this time in your life scares me because it is now matters of the heart we are dealing with. Physical pain is one thing. Heart pain is a whole ‘nother ball game. It’s my hope for you that you will remain the sweet, tenderhearted young lady that you are. That you will continue to march to your own drum. To shrug your shoulder at the popular crowd and just do you.

That you will seek God in all of your ways. And when needed, that your right hook will remind people you are redheaded and that comes with a whole bag of sassy!  

Be kind. Be brave. BE YOU!

Always in your corner.


Ps. People of the inter-webs reading this. Excuse me while I go cry now. Not about the hustle bustle getting ready to begin.  But about my baby girl growing up…. and about the hustle bustle of back to school beginning.

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3 Responses to Only Four More Summers

  1. Brenda Norman August 5, 2018 at 8:26 pm #

    As you and I know, being a redhead ourselves doesn’t make it any easier to raise a red head. May our daughters always be the true women they are meant to be and keep their inner girl happy all while remembering that they are the child of the King. Lead on, Nicki!

  2. Tinklin August 5, 2018 at 8:56 pm #


  3. Teresa Cone August 10, 2018 at 9:32 pm #

    This is one of the best written articles I’ve ever read. Ella is very blessed to have your care and leadership. Good job NickieF

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