Lately, as my daughter enters her preteens, I’ve been thinking more about identity- mine, hers, and the complicated relationship between mothers and daughters. I’ve never been one to refer to my daughter as my “mini”, and it always makes me feel a little weird when I see others do it. This is a bit ironic, because my daughter is, well, seemingly my mini.
She looks like me. Her anxiety presents like mine. She’s capable and responsible. She, at 12, will be sure that her bag contains extra masks, hand sanitizer, kleenex, snacks, and fidget toys in case her younger brother gets bored. She’s prepared. She’s quiet but fun and can really steal the show. She can have a temper. She notices things. Did I mention she looks like me?
She hears how much she’s like me ALL. THE. TIME. I remember being young, and hearing how much I looked like my own mother, and hating it. My whole family treated me the same way they treated her- the phrase “not fragile like a flower, fragile like a bomb” comes to mind. Only as I’ve aged have I realized that because I looked like my mom, and was artsy, and sensitive, people treated me like her, and that wasn’t exactly fair.
I wasn’t my mother, and my daughter isn’t me.
Sometimes this is a bitter pill to swallow. I wanted SO much to have pretty clothes and take dance class when I was younger, so when my daughter chose to wear her brother’s hand-me-downs and wanted to be a geologist instead, it was bittersweet for me. I wanted her to be and have everything that I couldn’t be or have as a kid. I think most parents do.
But she isn’t me, and she doesn’t want everything I wanted.
I have grown so much as a mother thanks to raising my daughter, and I know how important it is that she gets to be her own person, without carrying the weight of my (or her family’s) expectations. She may be similar in some (ok, many) ways, but she gets to play that out how she wants…not how I would have. It is so important for her confidence, her self-esteem, her spirit, to know that she can be who she is, free of anyone’s expectations. Society’s, her friend’s, cute boys’ and especially- ESPECIALLY- mine.
So while people might think of her as my mini, I don’t. And I don’t call her that. She is HERSELF, not some younger, prettier version of me burdened with my high hopes, failed dreams, and lofty expectations .
And she’s pretty awesome.