For The New Girl In All of Us

“Are you sure you want to go?” I asked my daughter again. “You don’t have to go.”

She nodded confidently but the catch in her voice told me otherwise, “Will you go with me?”

It was three days before my oldest child headed to junior high school and if that’s not big enough in our little world, it was a new school in a new town and she didn’t know a soul. When we read  about the Back to School Band Pool Party at her orientation, we thought it would be a great place to meet new friends before the big day.

So she gathered towel and tote and I pulled up the van to the Natatorium and the little-girl-look on her worried face was enough to send me back to the security of home. Instead I watched her take a deep breath and open the door and take the first step into the unknown. Her hope outweighed her fear.

She sat her things down and got in line  for the diving board. I sat in the bleachers and wrung my hands. I watched a big group of laughing girls walk past her without a second glance. She dove in and I prayed. I looked around for other lone moms of possible new girls and tried to work it from that angle.

She swam over to a smaller group and stood there nervously at the edge. I silently begged just one girl to acknowledge my beautiful daughter.  She finally made eye contact, gave a half wave and I watched her mouth a shy, “hi.” The girls didn’t even look up and then they swam away.

She turned away, shoulders slumped. And I remembered how it felt to be on the edge.

[Click to continue this gut-wrenching story over at (in)Courage and read what my little girl taught me…]


  1. 2

    Sara Z. says

    Kristen, that was beautiful. I am not the “new girl”, but I am facing a situation right now in my life that is just as isolating (my husband filed for divorce last week against my wishes). The quote you used from Elinor Roosevelt was especially comforting.

    As for you beautiful daughter, I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to keep trying as she did. Not in jr high and not even now. You have an incredible daughter.

  2. 3

    Ann says

    It is so comforting to know I’m not the only mom who projects her own insecurity onto her kids! I feel like I’ve gone my whole life trying to feel like I fit in and now that I’m married and have a wonderful family and feel secure myself, now I’m starting all over again feeling insecure for my kids! My son also started junior high this year and I find myself holding my breath, waiting to see him make friends and it’s so hard! I feel like every time I read your blog I find something I totally relate to. Thank you so much for sharing your life like you do, you have blessed me so much!

  3. 4

    Megan G. says

    We didn’t know my daughter was a girl until she was born. That night, I didn’t sleep a wink, because I was sitting in the hospital bed crying about things like this in her future. My husband woke up once and asked me what was wrong, and I said, “Girls are so mean to each other!” Oh, it hurts so much to think about!!!

    She handled it so well. I’m really impressed.

  4. 5


    Cheryl – Beautiful photos! I relaly like the bride on the Haunted Staircase, the couple walking down the pathway with the sunshine in the top corner and the last shot. They\’re all relaly super cool, though! Looks like a great place for a wedding (plus a few extra spirit guests hopefully means a well-spirited life together!). Awesome job.

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