Growing up with 3 sisters I was so used to girls I had no idea what it was like to live with a boy. I didn’t even have any boy cousins that lived nearby, only a boy neighbor my mom used to babysit who always felt the need to pull down his pants.
When I found out my first child would be a boy I was elated- I wanted a boy. I was curious about boys. I knew it would be a fun challenge especially since I enjoyed roughhousing and potty humor. But being the girly-woman that I am, and growing up surrounded by female energy, I knew I really wanted to have a girl in my life, too. In fact, I thought I would be damn good at it.
And so when I had my daughter, Anna, I thought, I know girls, I understand girls, I am an expert. But I was wrong, so wrong.
Having a daughter to raise is very different than having a sister.
Having a daughter of your own teaches you how much you want for women of the world.
Having a daughter means you would rather walk on a bed of nails than see her get hurt some of the ways you were as a young girl.
Having a daughter teaches you patience because when she gets down on herself, whether it’s about friendships, the way she looks, or struggles in school, you want to take it all away. It’s unbearable to watch since you understand so deeply what she is going through. But you know she has to come out of it herself and she will blossom into a stronger person because of it. And while waiting for her to get to the other side of her pain can tear you up, but it makes you stronger, too.
Having a daughter gives you the gift of letting another female teach you so many things, about life, about herself, and about yourself.
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A huge part of me wanted a daughter because I wanted to raise a strong girl. I had a preconceived notion I could steer her clear of some of the insecurities I had growing up.
But Anna has taught me that’s part of life; you can’t save another person from the stuff life hands you; it has to be your work, and everyone deals with it in a different way. And that is what makes you strong; the dealing, not being saved from it.
She doesn’t have the same insecurities and worries I had – she has different ones. And she deals with and processes situations very differently than I do. So when I try to help her, she has taught me what she needs and makes no apologies for it. And she shouldn’t.
I need to talk things through and be around people and good energy when I am upset or struggling. You know, I am always apologizing for this, too.
She shuts down and needs space and distance when she’s hurting or confused, and then she is able to handle it. And in the meantime, she just needs me to be there. She craves a safe place where she can deal with and process her thoughts in her own space and time.
Sometimes we are both upset and struggling together, and there are times we reach out for each other and I am not sure who is comforting who.
She’s taught me it is okay to not have all the answers for her because sometimes I just don’t and she thrives despite it.
She’s taught me sometimes you don’t need to rehash your hurt. You can find peace within.
She has taught me you should be yourself, unapologetically.
But the biggest thing having a daughter has taught me is when I look at her, I am seeing myself. She is woven into my fabric as I am in hers, but this is her life and I can not live vicariously through her or have a handle that’s too tight. And that’s really damn hard as a mother of a daughter.
But I keep telling myself the only way she will shine is if I let her be her.