I’m sitting on my porch listening to the cicadas sing. Their song always comes as a surprise to me, signaling a transition toward (dare I say it?!) fall and the start of school and, for some, earlier bedtimes. The cicada song reminds me that the long, slow days of summer are coming to a close and the rush of a new season will quickly be upon us.
Fall in the Midwest has always been my favorite season. I love the smell of the harvest, the roar of the crowd at our college’s football games, and the colors of the produce at our local farmer’s market. But mostly, I’ve always loved the beginning of school.
But school isn’t always fun or easy or joy-filled for some. Sometimes school means just holding on until next summer.
How do we make it through if we’re barely holding on?
I still remember my first day of sixth grade. My teacher, Miss Vitko, was reading off each student’s name, and when she got to me (“Shelly Hunt?”), I raised my hand. She looked at me over the top of her cat-eye glasses and said, “Oh, so you’re the Hunt girl.”
I could have curled into a ball, rolled out the door, and never returned to sixth grade.
You see, just two weeks before the first day of middle school, my younger brother died in a drowning accident. Our entire small town community knew about it, including the teachers in my school who were obviously on the lookout for a fragile, grieving little girl.
But on the first day of sixth grade I didn’t want to be known as the fragile, grieving little girl. I wanted to be cool. Grown up. Middle school.
And I wanted to be anything but singled out.
Thus, for me, began middle school: three years I barely remember that nevertheless had a profound effect on me.
I held on for dear life.
When each of my own three daughters were navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, I often found myself thinking, “Just hold on.” Sometimes the emotions —the high highs and low lows, sometimes within the same day!—were a little hard to keep up with.
It’s difficult for our girls to walk those early adolescent years with their cliques and mean girls and wildly raging hormones, but it’s also difficult for us moms to watch. Sometimes all we can do is ride that middle school roller coaster and hold on for dear life.
While I don’t recommend “just holding on” as a coping mechanism for everyday life, some days it’s the best we can do.
The great news is that God gives us some good things to hold on to when we feel we’re barely getting by, and He promises to hold on to us and walk us through it. I’ve seen Him do that with my own girls time and time again, and I know He will walk us through our next “middle school,” whatever that may be.
So, moms, whether you’re excited about the transition to fall or whether you’re dreading the end of summer, here is some encouragement you can “hold on” to.
I survived sixth grade and Miss Vitko and the grief that consumed me. My own daughters survived middle school and all that it brought for them as well. We all held on and rode that roller coaster and prayed with all our might. God was there, holding on to us through it all.
As the cicadas sing, the days grow shorter, and a new school year begins, let’s hold on, moms.
To what is good.
To eternal life.
To the promises in God’s word.
Now that’s what can’t be shaken.