As we approach another school year, I am learning that, despite my hopes that it may get easier to watch you grow, it doesn’t. You are yet another year older, another year wiser, and another year further from my womb and closer to your impact — your flight — into this world.
As you start this year, your second full year in school, I pray that you find yourself even more. My hope is that you uncover more things that interest you — that drive you — and seek them out. While I have attempted to expose you to different ideas and adventures that have interested me, my hope is that you seek and find some of your own true passions.
While I am overjoyed with your love of learning and going to school, I also yearn for you to sit back and just relish in the exposure of it all. I pray that you take in all of the knowledge being tossed your way, yet soak in the day-to-day interaction and experiences that actually matter more in the real world than your reading level and test grades in first grade.
And I pray that you wonder as much as you can. Do not be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question when you do not understand. I promise you that there is someone else in the room who is wondering as well but is too afraid to ask.
Like you have always done at home with me, I pray that you let your curiosity roam free. Seek out information, even if everyone in the class is so ready to move on to the next topic. Don’t be afraid. If your cup of knowledge on that particular subject is not full, then there is no shame in asking for seconds. Or even thirds.
Oh my sweet girl, I so pray that you are kind. I have seen the best of you and I have seen the worst of you — as you have of me. And I sincerely hope that I have shown you, both directly to you and to others around us, that kindness is the answer.
When a classmate needs a friend, I pray you are there. When someone is down in the dumps, I pray you lift them up. When a peer needs a helping hand, I pray yours is outstretched. And I pray that you are equally blessed when you are in need.
But if you are not — and there will be times that you are not — I pray that you can handle that in ways that we have practiced. It is then that I pray that you pray.
When someone hurts your feelings or things don’t go quite as you imagined, when things seem hard or too overwhelming, or when I would normally be there to help you take deep breaths and calm down, I hope you stop and pray. During those moments, I need you to remember our times together practicing this and ask Jesus to wrap his arms around you — as I have asked of Him many times while you were enveloped in my arms.
Baby girl, I hope that this year challenges you. Not because I want to see your little body fidgeting as you uncomfortably push that strand of hair behind your ear, but because that is the only sure-fire way to grow.
As you tense up with frustration when something doesn’t come immediately to you and you think you are failing, please remember that those are the very signs of growth. If you are always comfortable, you are not stretching yourself to the limit. And girl, you are limitless.
I pray you know that even if the most talked about part of your day becomes a giggly rendition of who has a crush on whom, I still really do long for — and live for — our nightly chats. Forever, you can tell me anything and everything. Like I have always told you, there is nothing you could ever say or do that would ever change my love for you.
Which brings me to my strongest prayer of all. I pray that you always know just how much I love you. I hope you know that I am always in your corner wiping away the sweat and blood of mistakes, pushing you to overcome and continue on, and supporting you in whatever endeavors you choose.
And I am so proud of you, my love, for the person you are today and the amazing person I know you will continue to grow into tomorrow. Please, I pray, always know that.
Now get out there, baby girl. The world — I mean first grade — is waiting on you. And you got this, little lady. Just spread those beautiful wings and fly.
Prayers and Love Always,
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.