August 26, 2012

For My Daughter

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , at 10:33 am by openendedcomment

I was just twenty-two and had no idea who I was or who wanted to be.  And then, as the saying goes, there was you.  From the very start it was just you and me.  Your Father was in the home the first few months, but the care of and for you was mine to give and mine to cherish.

Your first years were joy.  Joy and love and learning.  Truth be told, I learned far more than you during that time.  I learned that the answer to the “who I am” was the most important, complex and breath-taking thing…all summed up in one sweetly uttered and heart-stopping word.  Mommy. I will be forever grateful to you for giving me such happiness.

You with your cascade of golden ringlets and bluer than blue navy eyes were then and are today my greatest accomplishment from where all other accomplishments since can be traced.  Being your Mother made me better.  Being your Mother forced me to take stock of my life and ensure that the example I led was one of the type of woman I hope you will someday be.  I have not been perfect in this…far from.  I have failed you time and time again and will always have a swarm of doubts in my mind…all of the little moments I could have done better, been more and tried harder.  But despite all of this I hope that as you grow and you reflect on the life you’ve been given to lead you will do so with the knowledge that it’s OK to make mistakes.  That it’s the way you lead your life in learning from them that matters.  That when you fall down, you get up and do so with your head held high.  Determined.  You are so very, very determined.

I pray that as you enter your teen years, years that begin today, that you will do so with the confidence, trust, and joy that I have endeavored to instill in you.  I pray you never know sorrow, and that if you do, regardless of where it springs from, that you can come to me.  Always.  If there is any lesson I have tried to teach perhaps that is the most important one.  That no matter what life brings you or you to it, you are never in this alone.  As you grow and your independence strengthens, I will always be where and when you are.  A silent presence observing your emergence to womanhood ready to support, hold and lift you back up to where you should be.  This is my promise to you:

To always respond yes when asked if we can talk.  To always respond with open arms when you walk to me.  To never fail to ask you how you are and to listen to your words carefully.  To encourage and uplift you.  To allow you to grow into yourself, not only who I think you should be but instead who you are meant to be and to allow you the freedom to walk on your own path, even when my heart stops along the way.  To give more advice and less lectures.  To be the place you will always call home.  To know and act on the knowledge that though I call you “mine” you are your own person.  And that won’t be easy, baby girl.  It won’t be simple at all to allow you such freedom of choice, no matter how much I know I must.  I will falter.  As sure as I breathe, there will be the moments when your heart is broken for the first time, when you feel the loss of a friend or are placed in a position of danger, in them I will reach out to stop you and pull you back into the safety of my smothering arms.  I will fight against you growing and changing, not because I don’t or won’t trust in you but because I know too much of this world you are so quickly moving towards and I love you so much it is stunning to me still.  When that happens, and it will happen again and again, I will come back to this and remember that I promised you more.  I will be reminded that my job now is to guide you, not grow you.  To support you, not stop you.

On this your thirteenth birthday and every year that has been and will be, I am and will be your biggest fan.




February 28, 2012

Mean Girls.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , at 4:16 am by openendedcomment

I suppose the title says it all…girls can be mean. Some say “are”…I’ve said “are”…and tonight, it hit me. By saying we “are” or they “are”….we are, collectively, excusing it.

There is no excuse for it.

I have a daughter. This means I have a heart that walks around on the outside of my body. Initially, in her younger years, I could deal with the fears of everyday life…my little heart went to daycare and I worried about her physical safety. But I controlled her environment by spending a full third of my then-single-mom-in-my-early-twenties income (read: small) on her said daycare. The best. The one I had gone to, that had, somehow, become the expensive place in the area. She went anyway. It was worth it. She blossomed.

Years passed. I worried about her first sleep-over…I stayed up all night lest she should call and need me. She didn’t.

More years. Sports. School. A little curly-haired angel turned into a darling little girl with a mind of her own. I worried, but I controlled her world. I kept it small. Safe.

She is twelve now…seventh grade. Each day I am forced by the sheer will of puberty and heart to slowly loosen my grip.  To release her.

What frighten me most as she progresses on this journey is not war, not the economy, not what college she will attend, not what she may or may not choose to be someday, not even boys…what frightens me most are mean girls.

When I think back on my life, on the hurts and the heartbreak…the vast majority were caused by those very creatures.  As a child, as a teen and as an adult.  Yes, there were love-sick moments and love-rage moments (I was divorced once, after all…but that is another post for another day) The real pain, the real words that I still hear from time to time when I’m at my most vulnerable…those are the words of mean girls.

I can’t even really vilify them.  I’d love to…but how do you vilify that which you have done?  Been?  I know that I’m not a truly bad offender.  I had my moments though.  And just as I look to where my pain was; I can also easily identify my greatest shames.

Mean Girls.

Being one, knowing some. Trying to impress others.

Hating them, hurting under them, doubting myself as a result of it all.

I don’t want that for her.  I won’t allow that for her.  The day my heart started walking around in this world…the day my heart decided she wanted to grow up…that was the day I vowed she’d never know pain the way I had.  The way I have since.

I can’t stop every girl from saying anything cruel to her.  It’s already happened.  I can’t prevent what is inside of so many from touching my girl.  Their grip has already been felt.

I CAN and I WILL do everything in my power to empower her.  I can teach her how to rise above it…and barring that, how to plow through to the other side.  I can pray that she hears me when I tell her she is better than all of it…that she shouldn’t and couldn’t look herself in the mirror if she were to become one.  That who she is is precious.  That she can’t afford to loose herself in it.  That there is another way.

I can’t change what I’ve done.  But.

I can try to set an example.  I can pray I’m not too late.  I can hope that other Mothers are also willing and ready and able and driven to end this cycle of abuse perpetrated on members of our own sex.  Yes, I said abuse.  After all, it is…abuse.  An abusive cycle of beating each other down only to come back with apologies and wine to begin again the moment that trust is re-earned be it face to face verbal assults or the behind-the-back rumors and secret-letting so many are so adept at .  A cycle of abuse that, for me, ends now.

Maybe, just maybe if we, as women, call it what it is.. stop excusing it as just “mean girls”…maybe then we will be disgusted enough to Knock. It. Off.

To those that I hurt: I apologize.  To those that hurt me: I’m over it.  To all the Mothers: Let’s end this.