Five years ago, when our doctor told us our little mango sized baby was going to be a little girl, I was floored. The tomboy in me always thought I’d have a basketball team of boys. As you can imagine, many things ran through my head. I told myself, “My daughter will not be stuck to the color pink. She will not be a princess. She will be a warrior. She will be a triple black belt, and be able to defend herself against everything. She will never wear crop tops. She will wear wetsuits to the pool. She will not date until she’s 30.”
I can keep going, and I know some are just silly, but to tell you the truth, many were stemmed from fear. Fear of our hyper sexualized society, fear of having to overcome idiotic stereotypes, fear of her vulnerability, fear of mean boys, but my biggest fear of all… knowing that one day she may do many of the things I did growing up. *Gulp* Trust me, my parents deserve a series of accolades for putting up with some of my stunts.
Fast forward 5 years, and another beautiful daughter later, I became a full fledged “girl mom”.
My girls are a unique pair. My oldest, well let’s just say I tell everyone that my mom’s prayers were answered, because when my oldest was born, she practically came out covered in glitter. Pink, glitter, ruffles, dolls, dresses, crowns, (and a mix of robots)….EVERYWHERE. She’s all heart, and truly values everyone around her. Now, my one year old has a much different personality than her sister. She amuses herself by head-butting you, and can’t stand being in one place for too long. She can reach the highest decibel in a matter of seconds and immediately dances to the first beat of a song.
Together, their personalities and daily curiosity have taught and inspired this momma more than any how-to book, psychology class, or Pinterest quote ever will.
These are the 4 lessons I practice daily:
1. Love who you are, unconditionally.
It’s amazing how much my oldest daughter helped me take a step back and reevaluate the way I look at myself. One day she asked, “what are those rumbles (her word for zig zags) on your belly?” She was referring to my stretch marks. She asked me why I had them, and I told her that they remind me that I made and carried two beautiful little girls in my body. Once I saw how much she grew to love them, I grew to love them too. My way of thinking shifted. Instead of being so hard on myself about the MULTIPLE ways my body had changed, I now celebrate them. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to be in the BEST shape of my life, and who wouldn’t love to look like Jennifer Lopez at her age? It was so easy for me to shoot out negative comments about myself before having my daughters. I’ll never forget my cousin telling me that her eight year old daughter said she looked “fat” in shirt. That sweet girl does not have an ounce of fat on her. My internal dialogue changed and I began to give myself more emotional high fives versus belittling myself. I cringe of the thought of my daughters saying anything negative about themselves. I know my self confidence carries on to my daughters, and sadly if society won’t change it’s view on what’s considered beautiful, then at least I can establish a more positive foundation that we are beautiful…rumbles and all.
2. Don’t assume.
My daughter has been, and I’m sure always will be in the “why” phase. It does put things into perspective, especially when you have to answer the hard questions. “Why does he not look like us? Why are they homeless? Why is she different? Why are they missing a leg? Why doesn’t she have teeth?” Your immediate response (especially when asked loudly) is to be incredibly embarrassed, apologize profusely, and hide under a rock, but then the explantation follows. That’s when you have to really provide an answer that not only helps them understand the situation, but also helps her become compassionate toward others and their situations. My daughter has taught me to not assume a person’s circumstance, but rather look at the bigger picture. It’s easy to get lost in ugly assumptions.
3. Let it go.
Can’t hold it back anymore. Ok sorry, it’s permanently imbedded into my brain. All Frozen songs aside, this is about the appreciation I have for my daughter dusting her shoulders off and just letting things go. She has actually stopped me in my tracks, and said “don’t worry Mommy, I know you’re frustrated, but just breath and count to ten.” Yeah, she’s pretty amazing. Her ability to keep pushing forward with a smile really speaks volumes. I think as we get older, we tend to allow things to fester. We internalize everything and allow that to eventually take over our mindset. I now ask myself if the issue is worth it. Will it make a difference a week from now? How about five years from now? No? Ok, well then it’s not something to hold on to.
4. Be fierce in mind, and kind in heart
Sure, we already have this down as mothers, as a lioness with her cubs. I definitely find myself being more fierce than kind, especially when it comes to protecting my children. The term “I will cut you” had to have come from a mother’s mouth. Honestly, I want my daughters to be more fierce than kind. No, I don’t want them to be jerks, I just want them to know that NO ONE should ever take their kindness as a vulnerability, and NO ONE should ever take advantage of them. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud my daughter’s kindness, but a BIG part of me wants to protect that side of her. It’s pure, and as she becomes older, people will test that. She continues to prove that being kind is NOT a sign of weakness. She owns it well, and yet she’s doing a great job on being assertive. She’s learning to stick up for herself, and still holds on to her compassion. She reminds me that being kind is a quality that takes a lot of strength and grace.
My girls have helped me appreciate the beauty of being a woman. Sure, the fear of raising girls still lingers, but the daily lessons they teach me is my proof that I must be doing something right.