Mother’s day has also often been a day of reflection for me, reflection of gratitude and of sorrow, but this year it has new meaning as a day of hope. This year I’m unexpectedly expecting. (This is a big part of why I haven’t written much lately. ..I spent most of the winter puking and taking naps and craving toaster waffles). And now having a little girl on the way, I can’t help but reflect on the kind of mom I wanna be to her. Growing up in this world as a girl is just plain tough. I remember, I was one. I’m trying to not plan ahead too much, because I suspect raising kids has a lot more to do with adapting than planning, but I do keep coming back with things that I hope I will remember when it’s time. Here are some of the things I hope she sees in me and hears from me when she’s growing up.
1. I wanna say more of “try it!” and “give it a shot!” and less “don’t do that!” Obviously there is gonna be lots of room for “NO!” and “don’t even think about it, kiddo” but I want her to learn to do things for herself, to explore, to try, to fail, to try again, to face her fears, to succeed. I want to teach her to be independent and adaptable and to learn what she is capable of. And I want her to see me always trying to better myself and learning more too.
2. I wanna say lots of “I don’t know, what do you think?” instead of “because I said so” to her endless incessant annoying “WHY’S?” My niece is in the midst of her Why? stage and we all know how exhausting that can be. But, last weekend spending time with her constantly asking why (and wondering how in the world my sister stays so patient all the time), it occurred to me a few times that many of us adults don’t ask why nearly enough. We just accept things as they are and we view those who DO ask why as insolent rebels or malcontents. But WHY? signifies wondering. And wondering leads to exploration. And exploration leads to adventure and knowledge. All good things. I’ve often thought it was a sense of wonder and adventure that set truly great people apart from the masses. I’m ok with my daughter growing up with that. (Remind me I said this in 3-4 years).
3. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about other people. I want her to notice beauty and joy and strength in others the way I do and the only way I know how to help her see others that way is if I model it. I don’t want her to EVER hear me say mean things to or about others. And I don’t ever want her think it’s Ok to compare herself to others by looking down on them.
4. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about myself. I want her to know it’s awesome as a woman to accept and embrace who she is and the only way I know to teach that is to model it. I don’t want her to ever hear me say mean things to or about myself. And I don’t ever want her to think it’s Ok to compare herself to others by looking down on herself.
5. I want her to often hear me say wonderful things to and about her. And I don’t want these things to be just that she’s adorable and beautiful (which she will obviously be), but I want her to hear me boasting of her skills and capabilities, her growth, her silliness, her strength, her brain, her heart. The best thing my parents did for me was praise me for being smart, funny, caring, creative, and a quirky “one of a kind;” and frankly those are the qualities that I value most in myself and in others.
I know there are so many more things and I know these are easier said than done, but I’m hopeful. And terrified. I can’t even decide what color to paint the baby room or which stroller to get, but I’m not so sure those are the important worries anyway. I’ll let ya know how it goes.
(I love my niece’s ability to be silly. Come to think of it, I love my ability to be silly.)