Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to a dream. Not only did I want a daughter (after having a son two years earlier) but I also wanted a fairytale
mother-daughter bond. Thankfully what I got was far better. I got mighty lessons in life and love from a tiny human who would make me grow as she grew each year. I’d like to say I’m now sixteen years wiser, but moreover, I’m sixteen years humbled. That’s right. Parenting humbles us, challenging our belief system and personal narrative about what it means to be alive and share our lives. Parenting puts a mirror up for us to see both our wishes and our weaknesses.
In honor of my only daughter’s 16th birthday today, I’m sending radical loving vibes to all of our daughters out there. All year I’m honoring bold, brave women on my blog I’m calling mermaids and today that wish extends to all of our girls. Don’t we want to raise fearless, independent, smart women who feel they have permission to be both fierce yet also gentle? To honor their nature while influencing their personal power to achieve their unique goals in life?
In getting real about our hopes and dreams for our kids we sometimes lose sight that they are humans who are not belongings but becomings. I think our sole job is to love them and support them as they figure out how to do life. We want them to have it all and by all we mean love, happiness, peace and to do and be even more than we did.
Parenting has taught me how to fail well. I am not some queen of a castle, but a servant wearing many hats, so my shortcomings are many. I have no qualms about telling my kids when I’ve messed up. (Like knowing I got a speeding ticket in a school zone this year. Ugh.) I’m awesome at burning dinner. My brain files are too full. I can be too critical and unrealistic — like wanting my kids to love what I love. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. What fun would that be?
Another thing? Daughters call us out on our bullshit. I actually like that she disagrees with me sometimes even though we will stay on our sides of the argument. It shows me she’s thinking. We aren’t raising puppets. How sad would that be?
Children test us and stretch us. I want to give them the world, but they don’t always want my version of it. When I told the kids that our first summer trip this year would be camping in Arkansas, my daughter said, “Mom, no, you know I’m not that kind of girl.” You know what? She’s right. I recalled a few months earlier when my beau spoke up to say that my idea of a Grand Canyon hike this summer would not bode well with her – he was right – so after I’d already done all the research, I asked the kids where they would like to go for our big vacation. They unanimously said the beach so off to the sand and surf we’ll go. (The boys and I will have a grand time camping the week before!)
Our daughters show us what humans are capable of – sometimes an even bigger dream than we had for them. My daughter is a fearless performer, taking up competitive dance when she was 10. I think she’s far more confident and prepared for life than I was at her age. She doesn’t care what people think and isn’t afraid to do her own thing or speak up for herself. I honestly don’t know what part of “me” has contributed to who she is today but I do know that it’s my shortcomings as well as my successes that shape her life just as my parents and grandparents shaped mine. That’s not only okay, but a necessary part of our evolution.
If you’re a mama, be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. If you have a daughter, sit back in amazement at what you have co-created and then let her be whomever she will be with your gentle encouragement and boundless love. Here’s a nice article I found on improving the mother/daughter bond that’s worth a read. Here’s to being flawed and fabulous.
And Happy Sweet 16, Aud. Loving being on this ride with you. (Drive safe! Buckle up! Don’t text and drive!) Whew. There. I feel better now.
To living in the deep,