Editor’s Note: I was never a big Judy Blume fan but the movie Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret came out the week of my daughter’s 11th birthday. I quickly read the audiobook in anticipation and went to see it with my daughters, mom, sister, and niece. Needless to say, it had an impression. Whether you love Judy Blume or not, anyone who lived through or is raising a child in adolescence can understand. By the way, call your mom or mom figure and say “Thanks. I love you.”
Are you there God? It’s me, Mom.
I have an eleven-year-old now. God, how did you let that happen? I am certain that it was a mere few days ago when she was guzzling a bottle, learning to walk, or heading off to kindergarten. But suddenly, she’s almost a teenager.
I’ve been eleven before, God. I know you can survive middle school. But now there’s TikTok and AI and every kid has a cell phone. To say the least, I feel ill-equipped to handle it all. So, I ask again: how did you let this happen? And I’ll add: what am I supposed to do about it?
When she was little, I could guide her. I was her favorite person. She not only listened to me; she thought I was interesting and—dare I say it—cool and fun. We went on adventures. We explored museums and parks. Even picking flowers in the yard seemed like a big deal.
But now, in the blink of an eye, I am the worst. I don’t know anything. I’m always wrong. I don’t get it. I only want to block her fun and get her in trouble. If I told her the sky was blue, I’m pretty sure she’d supply some Google link to an obscure study that shows me I am wrong.
How do I help a child raised in this age of information learn some wisdom? How do you teach a kid humility when they feel like they can answer anything with a few keystrokes? And, by the way God, she already types faster than I do as a practicing lawyer, blogger, and book author. Can you tell me how to manage this?
I’ll wait, God. I’m sure your answer will be forthcoming.
Okay. This is ridiculous. I’ve been sitting in silence for a long time. I have a pretty good amount of patience by now. I sat. I waited. You didn’t tell me a thing. Seriously? You create this situation where I can make a kid and then offer no advice at all when that kid starts to look more like a grownup and needs some real help?
Fine. I’ll think this through since you so clearly don’t want to help. I’ll try silence again.
What comes up is a memory of how I was at eleven. I was smart and curious and scared and lonely and silly and creative and wanted to try everything. I made so many mistakes and did some things I regret. But eventually I learned by making mistakes. Sometimes my parents told me I made mistakes and sometimes they just loved me as I made them.
Oh geez, God. Is this your answer? I have to just be there to watch all of this? I have to watch her—my baby girl—make mistakes? I have to watch her—my first born—sometimes get hurt? I have to sit and try to stay calm and look like I know what I am doing as she starts to go out on adventures in this big crazy world without me? And just hope she runs into good and decent people along the way? Thanks for nothing, God. Really. Worst advice ever.
Now I’m mad. Better try some silence again. Breathe, Claire, breathe. It will be okay.
I’ve calmed down now and you know what’s coming to mind? It’s even worse. I’m thinking of all the things I say when I go out and teach mindfulness. I tell others we can’t control everything. I tell others the trick is to cultivate stability and bring in kindness and to rely on loved ones for help when we need it. I tell others to trust themselves and trust other people because people can surprise you when you give them a chance. I tell others that experience teaches us more than hearing someone tell us wisdom.
Okay, that last one hurts a bit. Experience teaches. I see what you’re doing, God. Even though you’re right, I don’t like it. I have to learn to let go a bit. I have to show what stability and kindness means, which means I need some support from my family and other mom friends. My daughter won’t listen to what I say (obviously), but she’ll remember what I do. And if she remembers that, maybe when she really needs it, she’ll let me help her.
I get it now. The answer is hard but I think I feel better. Thanks, God. Sorry I yelled. If you are there, keep watching because it’s going to be a fun ride. And if you don’t mind doing something about the Tiktok and AI situation, I’d really appreciate it.
I’m off to make birthday cupcakes. At least she’s not too old for that. Talk to you again soon.
If you need some extra help managing your experience as a caregiver, check our Guided Meditation for Caregivers here.
Want to learn more about mindfulness and compassion? Check out my new book, How to Be a Badass Lawyer, for a simple guide to creating a meditation practice of your own in 30 days. And to share mindfulness with your little one, check out my new children’s book, Mommy Needs a Minute.
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