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Ode to an Ordinary Girl

Posted by Jen on September 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM in Jen
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Madeleine, at the bus stop, age 10

"I don't know, Mom," she tells me late at night, sweet tears falling on her cheeks as we lie together in bed before she falls asleep. "I don't want to have to be a nobody and I don't want to have to be a somebody to have a good life. I just want to be an ordinary girl."

An ordinary girl.

I wonder what it means while she lets me hold her close. She is so bright, so articulate, so wise, so funny. I know I'm her mother, but really--is there any way on earth she could ever be mistaken for someone ordinary? Could that even be possible?


I think I know what she's saying. Too many distinctions between you and the girl next door, and it's hard to feel close to the people around you. Ask any child who merits extra attention in any direction--being special garners with it a certain kind of loneliness and more than a little careful handling. Nobody needs that. Especially when you are ten and above all things in need of belonging--mostly with the grownups who you wish to see you exactly as you are. Nothing more, nothing less.

It's easy to worry about Madeleine--especially at this age. I want her to succeed, to achieve, to find her way in the world with a kind of blissful happiness. But tonight I heard her ask for something more--permission to grow and be at her own pace in her own way, no special effort attached to being anything else but herself. An ordinary girl.

What could be more special than that?

Have something to say about your own ordinary girl? Comments are all yours in the space below.


patience writes...

Oh, I can VERY much relate...I STILL feel like this. I love that ordinary girl.

Karen writes...

she is more grown up and more beautiful in every picture. such a lovely young lady ... inside and out. You must be so proud, Jen.

Lisa Milton writes...

What a lovely shot of your girl. Thanks for articulating this age so beautifully; my 5th grader and I have been having lots of talks like this.

Such difficult and exciting waters to navigate.

janewilk writes...

I have an "ordinary girl" at my house - eleven years old and with one foot in the childhood camp and one foot in the realm of growing up. These are definitely not easy times - but I think the bedtime hours we spend lying next to them in the candlelight and listening to their worry, their angst, their joy help ease the way for their transitions. At least I'm hoping that's the way it works...

BlueLikeTheSky writes...

.We're right behind you at our house...almost nine and facing lessons I remember happening much later.

It's so challenging these days to maintain girlhood for our daughters without isolating them from the world in which they live. You are doing a wonderful job.

We're stepping back this year. Trying a true Montessori elementary. Slowing things down. Letting the world turn. I worry that we're "hiding out" sometimes, but then I hear reawakened laughter, silly songs, sweet conversations with fewer tears, and I trust that we've made the right decision.

Someday, I hope, these beautiful treasured girls will look back and smile, knowing that the "breathing room" of an ordinary girlhood made them extraordinary indeed.

Meg writes...

I just wrote about my ordinary girl today:

Watching her grow takes my breath away and scared the heck out of me at the same time. She still needs me, but she has no idea how I need her more! Our girls are so very beautiful!

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