Mothers and Daughters. Mothers and Sons.
Yes, I know–there’s nothing quite like the love between a mother and son—I wrote about that relationship here. Some of the gender specific characteristics that I’d always considered stereotypes have proven true with both the males and females in our family.
Enter little girls. Relationships between mothers and daughters can be tumultuous, multi-faceted, beautiful, hilarious, and mind-boggling all at the same time. Many say boys are simpler, and I agree that they are more straightforward. They may flush your jewelry down the toilet and fart like it’s an Olympic sport, but you always know where you stand with them.
A Complex Relationship
Girls are way more nebulous. Sometimes they want frills and ruffles. Other days they want to kick their soccer balls into next week. Today it’s pink with bling—tomorrow, camouflage.
When I look into my daughter’s eyes, I’m essentially looking into my own at nine years old. If we moms haven’t made peace with ourselves, our daughters will throw our shadow sides up in our faces until we do.
Our daughters challenge us. They force us to open up our old wounds and examine them closely. If we had body issues as young girls, our daughters’ own feelings about their bodies will force us to face up and deal with our old concerns. If we’ve been too good and accommodating all our lives, we may resent the spunk and arguments we get from our little firecrackers. Until one day, when we realize we’re secretly envious of that spirit and choose to talk back in our own lives. Sometimes our girls pour salt in those hurting spots; other times, our daughters’ love serves as a healing salve.
Mothers and Daughters: Washed Clean
The happy tears I’ve cried while raising girls have been so good for my heart. I’ve never stood backstage at a ballet recital without crying. After the unbearable pain of two miscarriages, gratitude lifts me to tears every time I watch our littlest girl spin on stage. Every tap of her toes is confirmation that even the most humble and imperfect among us live entitled to enormous miracles.
When our oldest daughter was in third grade, she wanted to run for SCA president, but she battled painful shyness. We practiced her speech with her, encouraged her, and pushed when necessary. Walking up to that podium and facing the entire school may have been the bravest thing she had done up to that point in her life. I cried when she nailed her speech. She didn’t win the office, but she triumphed over fear.
Ultimately, our little girls have to journey through this world on their own, just like their mothers have. For a time, we get to travel with them. We get to hold their hands, dry their tears, celebrate, and yell encouragement from the sidelines. As we cry backstage while we watch our daughters shine, though, our tears will wash away our own travel wounds and set us back on our feet as we walk our own chosen paths.