Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mothers and daughters

I have been thinking a lot about daughters lately, probably because I have been spending a lot of  time with one daughter in particular. Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go on a field trip with her class, then she and I went to meet her favorite author… post on that here.

 Mother and daughter relationships are a complicated, fascinating thing, especially when the mother and daughter are a lot alike.  I see that in my own relationship with my mother and mine with my daughters. I also see it in my writing. (I hadn’t noticed this until recently). In my current novel my main character's mother lives most of her life trying to protect her daughter from making the mistakes she had made. She also tries to protect her from the harsh world. She does this by isolating her daughter and constantly smothering her. This obviously causes resentment in the daughter.  The daughter also does not see her mother clearly, as if her mother only exists as her mother and not as a woman with a past, life of her own. 

My oldest daughter is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet. She is my hero. At the age of (almost) 11 she knows exactly who she is, AND she really likes that person. She is not trendy or into what is cool and what isn’t. When I do try to steer her into those directions (yes, I know, shame on me), she promptly tells me that what matters are her insides. I guess, when you have insides as great as hers, clothes really don’t matter. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, along with an inner kindness that is inspiring. 

She has a lot of characteristics that I had as a girl... bubbly personality, chatty, tons of energy. On me, as a child those characteristics made me feel awkward, due mostly because of unkind words spoken by others. BUT on her, those same characteristics make her shine. At times I catch myself projecting my insecurities (or my childhood) on her. I think we all do this as parents. We try to protect our kids from our own trials… when the truth is, sometimes we need to lay off and just let them be, (kids sports come to mind. Boy, I could go on and on, on that subject, but I won't).  It is those times, when I do lay off, sit back and watch her, that I see my fears are unwarranted... and I am amazed. Amazed that this girl is my daughter.

On this field trip in particular, she was elected Mayor of a mock town. She had to give speeches, interview students and be interviewed. She did all of this as if it was no big deal. The whole times I was a mess, worried for her. I should have known better. I should have had more faith in her. 
I really should have more faith in all of my children. I have discovered recently that I need let them live their own childhood without having to live mine as well. This is a doozy of a revelation, being someone who likes to be in control. And the truth is, though they are not perfect, they do have a much stronger sense of who they are, and what matters, than I did at their age. At the age of 37 I am still trying to get to where my daughter is at (almost) 11. Like I said before, she is my hero. 

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