When I was pregnant with my first child, we didn’t find out what we were having ahead of time. So when the doctor delivering her said, it’s a girl, I cried the happiest of tears. I had dreamt of dressing my sweet little baby in all shades of pink and envisioned the princess tiaras and tutus she would wear. We quickly painted her room in pastels and I reveled in the pretty bows and frills that I got to dress her in. As this sweet little girl has grown though, I am becoming fiercely aware that this motherhood thing, especially raising a daughter, is much more than ribbons and curls.
As she has developed her personality, it was clear, even at two years old, that she may look like her dad but she acts a lot like her mom.
When she began to talk I listened to her stubborn “nos” wondering how my mother ever did it (five times!). She has will.
I’ve seen her imagination unfold and it’s amazing to watch the crazy outfits she’s worn, games that she’s thought up, and stories that she has written. She is immensely creative.
I remember watching her lay all her baby dolls down for a nap and she cuddled up beside them on the floor and took one too. She is nurturing.
She often sits on the sidelines and prefers to observe rather than join in. She’s a thinker.
She loves to read books and school work comes easy to her. She is curious and successful.
I adore all of these traits in her (how could I not, she’s a mini-me). But as she is growing into a little lady, I worry too. Because she is so much like me, I fear that she will have my insecurities or make my same mistakes. I worry that she will be more concerned with her outward appearances instead of her inner beauty. I worry that her being an introvert will make her a loner. I worry that her big heart will get her hurt. I worry that she will be persuaded to follow the crowd and suppress her creativity. I worry that her desire to fit in will tempt her to do things she shouldn’t. I worry that she will pressure herself unnecessarily when school work gets hard. I worry a lot.
Why can’t I have my spunky, curly haired little munchkin back? Things were simpler then. 2:00 a.m. feedings? No problem. Scraped knees, I got this. A little sassiness, Love and Logic turned us around. But the winds are starting to change and I’m feeling ill-equipped for the heartaches, bad choices, mean girls, self-esteem issues, the pressure of tough subjects in school, and whatever else that I don’t know is lurking out there, waiting to harm my baby.
I really fear, as it is becoming apparent, that there will be loss and pain that I can’t control or shield her from, and that I can’t make it “all better” anymore. When she was younger, I was confident that missing a mommy and me class or feeding her formula was not going to ruin her. But now the decisions I have to make are starting to feel a lot bigger. Like I’ve got an entire future in my hands and it’s up to me to gently mold her (but give her space to grow), optimistically guide her (but bite my tongue so she learns on her own), all while making the right choices and without totally screwing it all up. No pressure mom. Geez.
My tool chest is helpful. I am blessed with four older sisters to learn from. I remember what I treasured about my relationship with my mom and try to emulate it with my daughter. I also conjure memories of what I lacked in that relationship and try to create a balance of what my daughter needs from me. I know I can’t be her best friend, but I don’t want to be her worst enemy. Ugh, that balance thing is challenging. And I’m pretty sure it gets harder before it gets better.
It’s tough to come to terms with knowing that my baby is no longer a baby and that I am no longer 100% in control of her environment and her choices. I do need to remember that despite my own bumps and bruises, I turned out pretty ok. And I’ve got a pretty amazing man by my side to help me. Since the clock refuses to stop moving forward, I will pray, I will love, and as long as she shares my passion for bargain shopping, I think we’ll always find a way to connect. But one this is for sure, motherhood is not for wimps.
To all you moms (and dads) out there- you are not alone. We forget to lean on friends, family, and even teachers to help us guide our children towards a bright future. Ask for help when you need it. For now, just go hug your daughter because whether she likes it or not, she will always be your little girl.