This ends differently, hang in there.

Remember when numbered titles that lead with a suggestion to solve the problems you didn’t know you had were all the rage?

5 ways to get your kid to eat their dinner.
17 free date ideas.
The 3 things you’re doing wrong and how you can do them better.

You remember, yes?

It feels like the internet just discovered that the amount of these “honest, helpful” approaches to sell us an opinion is a lot like discovering that plastic is actually pollution. It’s the kind of monumental problem you don’t entirely know how to solve because it’s in everything.

So listen, truce? Because I have a list I’ve been working on. It’s time to talk about what it’s like to mentor and shepherd a young lady into becoming a young woman and why, God, was it ok to create hormones?

I can’t keep it in any longer.


No one wants the kid who repels soap like the matching ends of the magnetic field. Positive to Positive? That trick is hilarious, keep trying to make them stick. Only, it doesn’t work the same with social confidence and, I don’t know, showering.


You know how you feel when you enter a raffle and you can taste the feeling of the win? That’s why you entered, it’s simple. Notch that up by a thousand – those are the expectations for every.thing.

I say: I was thinking of going to the store, want to come? I need eggs and a few other things. It’ll be quick.
She hears: I’m heading to the magical place of STUFF, I promise to buy you everything you touch and look at longingly. Specifically the clothing items you wouldn’t normally pick out because you’re high on the possibility that you get something. And all the stuffed animals. And posters of cats. It’ll be all about what you want, we don’t need anything.

Imagine the tantrum of disappointment when we walk out of the store with EGGS. AND A FEW OTHER THINGS. Like, butter. Possibly oatmeal.


On the sibling relationship:

Some days I think she wonders why we didn’t look at her, decide complete perfection, and throw away the keys.

I keep telling her that her little brother can be one of her best friends, how awesome it is to have a brother. How I know it’s hard at times but it’s worth it because he’s the only person who’s going through the same thing she is: Me as a mother.

Jessica's letter to Oliver


So those hormones. They’re the third child around here. At every turn I’m wondering if I’ve just secured her future therapy needs. React to this one? Or wait, because surely this personality will circle back soon. Should I let this go? I mean, she’s practicing the whole being adult-ish, having a voice, voicing those opinions. It’s just: tact, you guys. And maturity.


Remember when you liked mayonnaise? Me too. You used to eat Pickle Sandwiches with mayo, mustard, and pickles. You were the happiest kid about this concoction. Then you went to school and all personal choices went out the window for the sheeple mentality of “Melissa said mayonnaise was gross.” (scrunchy face)

You still won’t eat mayonnaise. You’re emotionally allergic to mashed potatoes. Depending on if the wind is in the east or the west, you’ll tolerate meat. Of any kind. And you make all kinds of deals with yourself about how it’s ok to eat gluten just this once (every 5 minutes). Bread is the thing that you long for.

Hey, I hear it’s great with mayonnaise.

Jessica's specialty - a pickle sandwich


When the world stops spinning and, like a unicorn, you’re an emotionally balanced human being – I get a glimpse of the beautiful woman inside. You’re something else, Jessica. Something to be proud of and dumbfounded by because how the Fierce inside of you got there is a sign that God does exist. You are magic and all balled up, unspent energy – I can see why this part of growing up is more like ricocheting off surfaces until you unwind and stretch out.

Belle Isle, Detroit 2014

A little more than a year ago I wrote her this:


Today I will accept you for who you are.
Please be clear with who that is.

Today I will love you no matter what obstacle arises.
Please be patient with me, too.

Today I will try harder to listen longer and ask important questions.
Please be willing to spill your guts.

Today I’ll remember that you’re watching me and that someday you’ll be grown.
Please don’t grow up so fast and please be willing to trust me.

Today I will pray for you and I’m going to ask courageous things for you.
Please be willing to believe.


I taped it above her bed and, not every night, I read it to her before she goes to bed or wake her up with those words in the morning. I always picture her writing her name in the sand when I read it to her. Tiny toes dug into the sand, petite pincer grasp on the stick. Her flowing, wispy baby hair and an audience gathering, clamoring to see what she’s about to do next.

I wish this part of life would go slower. I look at all your old photos and already miss you.


It’s not so bad: this. You and me. Mother and daughter. It has it’s moments and I feel like a failure far more than you see me as one. I just wanted you to know I can see you, too. And how I would do it all over again. Every part. Times a million. (Thanks for all the reasons to laugh and all the little reminders that keep us humble.)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *