My daughter is about to graduate from middle school. I’m feeling nostalgic and somewhat sad about all the milestones we’ve shared over the years. Even though I have 4 more years left — and well, I’ll never stop being her mom — finishing middle school seems…big! 

As I think about this, I decided to write my past self; a letter I wish someone had written me as they went through this. So, this one’s for you, young(er) Christina. 

Dear Christina,

Parenting is full of milestones.  This cyclical journey is filled with working toward one milestone, attaining it, and starting again with the next.  In the early years of childhood, you’re consumed with achievements like sleeping through the night, crawling, walking, talking, and motor skill development.  Then you move into the school-age years with the first day of preschool, the first birthday party with friends, preschool graduation, registering for Kindergarten, the first day of real school, after-school activities like the first day of dance class, first soccer game, elementary school performances, report cards, award ceremonies, each new school year, each end of a school year.  It’s a lot and exhausting, but it sure happens fast, and suddenly, your child is off to middle school.

young girl showing medals and smiling at the camera
Photo by contributor Christina Carlisi

Just when you think that time might slow because your child is gaining more independence and you’re not needed to handle their every need, more milestones come and go.  You encounter team tryouts, performing arts auditions, acceptance, rejection, friend scuffles, puberty, and testing their independence.  Although in the distant past, sometimes the battles of sleepless nights seem like an easier battle than balancing school, extracurriculars, and hormones.

middle school girl smiling at camera with medals...middle school graduation celebration
Photo by contributor Christina Carlisi

And then you hit the end of eighth grade.  A point where your child is about to embark on the last bit of training to adulthood: maybe it’s because my daughter completed fifth grade amidst COVID (2021) and missed out on important milestones like the fifth-grade awards, field trips, and even the whole year in school, but completing eighth grade is hitting me hard. Middle school graduation is coming on too fast. 

This whole mix of emotions may be hard because my daughter blossomed contrary to my middle school experience.  She bravely entered middle school at a different school than all her friends were attending.  She boldly joined the theater department and became part of a family.  She made incredible friends, had once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and was guided by supportive and caring teachers.  I couldn’t have written her middle school story any better. And her middle school graduation will be just as amazing. 

We’ve already encountered some of the “last” milestones in middle school, like her last middle school dance and her last Jr. Thespian State Festival, and we have many more to cram into during the remaining few weeks.  I’m trying my best not to get caught up in the sometimes chaotic schedule but rather enjoy the highs and lows of this time of year (for once!). 

Of course, my anxiety is starting to peek through as we inch closer to high school and another school change, but following the experience we just had for the past three years, I’m more optimistic about what’s to come.  

I want to leave you with a lasting thought: whatever stage you’re in, give yourself time to  breathe and take it all in.  Enjoy each milestone, and don’t hurry to the next one.  Trust me, it’ll be there, it will find you, and you’ll conquer it like you’ve done each time before.

You got this. 





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