Have you seen this video?
Watch it. Seriously. It will be the best two minutes of your day.
Need a tissue? Or a whole box?
The two minutes it took to watch this video opened my eyes to the new world I found myself in without realizing I was there.
I’m talking about the exhilarating/terrifying/so-many-ways-to-screw-this-up world of raising a daughter.
When I look at my six month old I see an adorable baby who loves giving hugs and kisses, talking, jumping, and eating applesauce. Her only worries are when to eat and where to sleep. But when the door opened in this video I saw my little girl standing there, not as a baby, but as a girl learning to navigate her way through our great big world. I realized what a huge responsibility I have in raising my daughter.
So far my job has basically been keeping her alive and mostly happy, and even that hasn’t been easy. Struggling through initial battles with nursing; returning to work and spending a good chunk of my day attached to a pump; being so excited when she finally figured out the sleep thing only to spend the whole night checking the monitor to make sure she’s still breathing; deciding when and what to start feeding her real food; diapers, diapers, diapers…Caring for an infant is no walk in the park. But how can this compare to the emotional aspects of raising a daughter?
How do I raise a girl who is strong but not “bossy”? How do I teach her to stand up for herself and her friends without putting others down? How do I show her how real love looks and feels so she recognizes the fake kind that comes with strings attached? How do I teach her about mean girls–and keep her from becoming one? How do I help her find a balance to take pride in her body and appearance without becoming vain? How do I help her see that that real beauty is modest? How do I help her understand that a “healthy diet” is about moderation, not starvation, and that “exercise” should be enjoyable and not excessive? How do I prove to her that that “reality TV” isn’t based on reality? How do I teach her that it’s okay not to like everybody, but everybody deserves respect?
I know the answer to all of these questions seems simple: Lead by example. But oh, how scary that is! Have I truly learned all of these lessons myself? Aren’t I guilty of wishing my body/hair/style was exactly like [insert name of celeb on magazine cover here] even though I know she had a whole team for hair, makeup, and Photoshop? How many times have I been duped by fake love or friendship because of my insecurities or some silly romantic notion? Have I always expressed grace and respect when dealing with a difficult situation or person? My worries and questions are many and the biggest one of all remains: Am I a strong enough woman to lead my daughter to become the kind of woman I hope for her?
When I was pregnant and found out I was having a baby girl, I envisioned her first dance class and volleyball game with equal enthusiasm. I love shopping for tiny dresses and headbands, but raising a girl is about so much more than ribbons and bows. I hope my daughter will be brilliant. I hope she shares her dad’s and my love of sports. I hope she will feel as beautiful in knee pads and cleats as she does in makeup and heels. But more than any of that, I pray she will be kind. Strong. Wise. Determined. Confident. Humble. Proud of who she is. And I pray that she can see all of those things in her mommy.
I hope we will have the kind of relationship, as I have with my own mother, where I can share with her the stories of my past so she can learn from my blunders. I know I have to give her the space to let her make her own mistakes, and I hope she will tell me about them so we can figure it out together. If there comes a time in her life when she feels like there is nothing else, I pray that she knows she has me. Unconditionally.