a valentine for my daughter

Here you are, 13, waiting for your first surprise bouquet of flowers or even a candygram on this strange holiday. I hear the hope in your voice, see it in your choice of outfit. I want it for you, too. I still want it for myself at times.

For you, I want what I wanted: Someone so giddy with love that he would shout it with every action. I want someone who would gladly take a bullet to keep you safe, let’s be real. I hope to see him looking at you like no other girl ever existed. I want for you to have that one special love that lasts until your last breath.

I know I often say that the bad moments are lessons, making you strong and shaping your character. Honestly, if I could I would pave your way to forever happiness without thinking once about how heartaches and anger and false friends make you somehow better. I would have you wrapped up in a bubble of perfection along with that special person. If he’s worthy of you, I would create that world for him, too. What mother wouldn’t?

Romance is tricky, though. In the beginning it’s heady stuff, full of kisses and surprises. Life starts to push its way in, though. Bills and cleaning and laundry and work…it makes you wonder how you ever fit in the romantic bits. Pick someone who will jump at any opportunity to find a way, please. Goofy holiday? He’s on it with the cheesiest of commercial gifts. Three-day weekend? Of course he’s planned a drive somewhere you’ve never been together. No money? He’s written you sweet love notes and tucked them into your jacket and shoes. He won’t miss a chance.

Don’t look the other way on this, baby girl, that person is out there. Don’t make the mistakes I’ve made. You deserve someone who looks at you like you’re a piece of cake, someone who dreams about you, and is proud to hold your hand. He won’t need to be cool in front of his friends; he’ll need you to know that you’re cherished.

I promise that he’ll be worth whatever wait it takes.

[Edit: When I wrote this, the shooting in Parkland hadn’t happened yet. I wrestled with deleting the “gladly take a bullet” piece after rereading this post, then decided to keep it in. It happened, and we as a nation need to figure out how to stop any more from happening. The fact is that I wrote it as a figure of speech and then, hours later, students were gunned down. Kids who should’ve been gossiping about who received flowers from so-and-so were killed, never to see their friends and family again.]


My daughter has been having slumber parties nearly every weekend since winter break, anywhere from four to seven girls. I know; we’re crazy.

Or are we?

Do they take turns being the main drama queen? Absolutely. They are 12 and 13-year-olds, after all.

The thing is, every time they create these little dramas I get the chance to work through issues with them, something I wish people had done for me when I was younger.


I think the biggest thing I notice is pretty normal for the junior high crowd – a sense of entitlement and lack of accountability. Here’s the thing, though, it might be normal to see this in teens, but we shouldn’t shrug it off. Someone needs to help them see the world through a more empathetic lens.

Rhiannon and I have a lot of conversations, because we need to talk things out to feel better and find solutions. I think her friends are still a little uncomfortable with our closeness. One even said, “I feel like I can’t tell you things, Rhiannon, because you’ll tell your mom, and I’m afraid she’ll tell my parents.” Rhiannon told her to ask me if I would. My response? “If I feel like you’re harming yourself or others, I will definitely talk with your parents. If I feel like it’s normal 7th grade stuff that doesn’t require our intervention, then I would love to be someone you trust and would only tell your parents if you asked me to.”

[Their parents know that I’ve told them this, too.]

At a recent slumber party, Rhiannon was spending time away from her friends, pouting, actually. When I asked why, she said she was upset that they had “wrecked” her room that she spent three hours cleaning. She was madder, though, that one had yelled at her, “You could help us clean up, you know!” It made her feel like she was being blamed for something she didn’t do, one of her biggest stressors.


So that night we got to talk about accountability and fairness.

“Would you think it was fair if you had worked for three hours to clean your room and your friends came over and made a mess?”

“Would you like it, if they yelled at you to fix what you had already cleaned just hours before?”

“Do you think it’s kind to make the person who invited you over feel unwelcome in her own bedroom?”

“If something is really your fault, do you think it’s nice to make someone else fix it or make them feel like they did something wrong?”

One of her friends called my words “aggressive” (she also said this about her mom’s words – I was lucky to have another mama bear with me), so we had even more to talk about.

And it’s okay. We’re building world changers over here. I love it.