To My Children in Middle School:

I believe in you. I believe in you like every mother who sees her baby as the most beautiful in the nursery; as the mom who feels a burst of pride over the gorgeous natural curls, the eyelashes that go on forever, the delicate rose-shaped mouth. I believe as the mom who saw you read early, who heard you sing like an angel from a very early age, who showed off your drawings on her Facebook profile page. I believe because I see your talents and abilities, your gift of humor, your musical skill, your writing ability.
I believe in you as the mother who has seen you fail, who held her breath when you fell, over and over, before you ever took your first step. I believe as the one whose heart broke when friends walked away from you, when children made fun of your glasses, when they called you names. I believe as the mom who saw you make some mistakes, who found you a math tutor, who sat through meetings with the principal. I believe because every time you fell you stood back up, no matter how long you lay in the dirt, breathless, tears tracking the dust on your cheeks.
I believe in you as the mother who worries too much; who sometimes has a good cry in the bathroom, who puts her hands on your uniforms as she folds them to just will all that love into the fabric. I believe as the mother who packs your lunches with all of your favorite things, who waves goodbye with a huge smile but turns away very quickly. I believe with every ounce of hope and faith that is in my body, because what child would not succeed when loved so very much?
I believe in you because I am your mother. I believe in you in spite of that fact. Like every parent, I have an idealized version of you in my mind, ready to pull out along with your most photogenic school pictures.
I have also seen you at your worst and at your most vulnerable, and I know, because you’re human, that you will face obstacles of your very own design. But I also know you are brilliant, beautiful, strong and resilient. You have already, in a very short time, met many challenges. You have overcome some of them. You have been overcome by others. And that’s ok, because you’ve learned something every. single. time.
You are fearful sometimes, and you don’t believe in yourself very often these days. But I want you to know that I believe in you like no one else. And that should mean a lot because I know you like no one else, too. When you come to me and lay your head on my shoulder and tell me you can’t, that you are afraid, that it’s just too much, I’ll listen. I won’t judge you, or nag you, or tell you you’re wrong. I’ll just believe in you like I always have, like I always will.