Letting Her Be Left Out

March 27, 2013 in friendships,lessons for moms

Being left out

image courtesy of Graur Cordin/Free Digital Photos

Past the diving for rings stage, the bikini-clad girls sat huddled in secretive laughing groups in corners of the pool. Anyone not in the group was clearly outside. My Bird was perfecting her underwater somersaults, alone, in a pool full of peers. Sometimes she swam up to the younger girls, grabbed their foot or scared them. But Bird’s younger sister made it clear she wanted her older sister to leave her and her teammates alone.

We were at a hotel for a soccer tournament. Both girls were playing in the tournament and both teams were staying at the hotel. Moms smiled and traded small talk while counting heads; dads raised their voices over each other and traded analysis of the soccer teams and then the college basketball teams. I sat quietly, shrinking. Large group interaction and small talk are not my fortes. And watching the girls on Bird’s soccer team ignore her, as they had been doing for months, felt like punches in the gut. I wanted to run away or maybe stand up and demand the girls include everyone though my girl showed no sign of caring about the alienation.

My instinct to protect my girl is powerful and strong and a completely shocking part of motherhood. Watching the social scene before me cemented the realization that in the next years I would and should no longer create a safe, comfortable world for her. Instead, I am to be the listener, the guider, the prayer warrior, and the spring board as she makes her way in a world that will hurt her, one way or another. And not stopping all the hurt, not interfering very often, that is my new job. When she was a babe, God said, “Care for her, protect her. “So I mentally wrapped her in my hand and let her peek through the holes of my fingers. But now, I must lower one finger at a time so she can see and experience more. If I keep her tightly enclosed in my figurative fist she will fall when it is time to fly. This is hard. And it hurts.

Those soccer girls, in a few days, maybe weeks, the dynamics will change. Someone else will fall out of the giggling corner and will approach my girl. Or some misunderstanding from months ago will be forgotten or cleared up. Or my girl will gain more courage and try again to interact and will be embraced. The chess pieces of the tween girl world will get rearranged over and over.

I didn’t run away that night though I wanted to.  I watched, just to be sure, to be sure this was a drama of tween girls and cross-school dynamics and not a bully situation. I listened and observed and commanded my stomach to stop reacting until I could tell that this was not a toxic situation but merely the outcast experience of life that every girl experiences.

I suspect God intentionally hides  how fully parenthood consumes us and changes us. All we see initially is a year of sleepless nights and irresistible toddler giggles. It all looks so doable. He doesn’t let us know how much watching our kids struggle will hurt us or how hard we will have to lean into Him for the wisdom we need. Because then we might not sign up so willingly. But then, the joys and love of motherhood would never be ours. I know of no parent who would give back the precious lives God has entrusted to their care.

Still, moms,  can I hold your hand as our girls get older and the world collides with the sweetness of our little girls? As we pray our way through this crash, I am going to need your support. And the next time you watch your girl play alone in a pool full of kids, I promise to squeeze your hand to remind you, “God’s got this.”

Linking up with Jennifer and other word weavers who want to share His story.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I totally hear your heart in this post. I heard a wonderful reminder just yesterday that we are aliens and strangers in this world. The world doesn’t understand us. That’s why being part of a body of believers is so important – they get us and our different-ness. I think being in school is hard because the social world is so small and the developmental pressure is so high to be like everyone else.


pruningprincesses March 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Belinda, I agree, school is a crazy place to learn social schools. And yes we are aliens. I wonder why that is a lesson which is so hard to take to heart?


Becky Daye March 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I have known these feeling so intimately and it is beyond heartbreaking. But your words are so true- words that our Father has been gently trying to teach me for years. I have learned to step back when the eye rolls start from other girls and let my girl deal with it. I have learned to pray more for and with my girl. I have learned to not place expectations on her to be like me, but to celebrate who God is making her to be.
It is a tough road this motherhood thing. Thankful that I get to walk it with some wise women! Always thankful for you!! And I can guarantee that my girl would have been swimming right by your daughter’s side!!!!


pruningprincesses March 27, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Oh Becky, you are learning all the things I am trying to learn. I am realizing that the years ahead will require me to lay down my words and expectations more quietly, to pray more, to mold less directly. If your girl is in Michigan sometime, let’s go swimming!


Positively Alene March 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm

You get me every time!!! Love ya.


Joylynn March 27, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I haven’t experienced this yet, but I’m sure it’s not going to be too much longer! Thank you for writing!


pruningprincesses March 27, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Oh Joylynn, I imagine it will be some time before your boy has issues, but your little girl, they will start earlier than you can imagine. I have no idea how moms without faith get through it all.


Angie Ryg March 27, 2013 at 8:13 pm

“He doesn’t let us know how much watching our kids struggle will hurt us or how hard we will have to lean into Him for the wisdom we need.”

And I thank God for giving us that wisdom. But yes, sometimes it is. so. hard.

Praise Him for giving you the time to just watch, when it feels like confrontation is the way to go. Oh, the pain of invisibility goes deep. Thank you for learning and teaching us through this experience. And I pray that all of our girls will hold hands with each other and The Mighty King someday together for eternity.



pruningprincesses March 28, 2013 at 12:12 am

H Angie, Love your prayer. It blesses my heart. Thank you.


Jon March 28, 2013 at 2:48 am

You have such wisdom to not interfere. My girls are now grown and all of them were on the outside many times. They learned so much and are now well adjusted adults. They know how to deal with hurts, their own and those of their friends, and can be an encouragement to others who haven’t felt that way before.

My oldest stopped trying to be part of the popular group and accepted others who were discarded by the most popular girl. She’s still friends with the other outcasts, while many of the popular girls don’t seem to have as many close friends.

May God give you the wisdom you will need as they continue to grow and develop…


Mothering From Scratch March 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm

{Melinda} Oh, I so get this. Every word, Laura. Yes, God makes it abundantly clear that we can’t do this parenting thing without Him! I am reminded of that all the time. I’m watching my boy go through some struggles on his baseball team. Some of his own making. Some out of his control. It is heartbreaking. I want to be his protector, but I don’t think it’s best for his mom to step in on this one. I’m praying that God will use it to strengthen Micah and teach him lessons far beyond baseball. So hard to watch, but keeps us dependent.


misssrobin March 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

“God’s got this.” Oh, how I needed to hear that today. Thank you for sharing. It sounds like you got through a tough parenting moment with flying colors. One of my favorite quotes is, “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.” We can’t always make everything easy for our children, but we can teach them how to be okay anyway. It sounds like you’re doing great at this!

Happy Sharefest. Have a lovely weekend.


pruningprincesses March 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Oh Miss Robin, it didn’t feel like flying colors more like trying to calm my inner storm. I love the quote you shared. It is full of wisdom. Thank you for your encouragement.


Rabia @TheLiebers March 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Beautifully written. I know in my heart I’ve got to let her experience life and learn from it, but that doesn’t mean I like watching it happen.


pruningprincesses March 30, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Me neither. I don’t like to watch it all. And I think as they get older, I won’t have a choice. Thanks for stopping by.


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