As parents, we do our best to plan for memorable moments. To create and capture the perfect photo opps. We watch as the baby fat fades and the school years pass, and we want to make it all count. Every second. Every moment. But why are we trying so hard?
Girls pick up on our every sigh when we try on jeans that are snug, every groan when we don't like how our dress fits. And they hate hearing our disparaging remarks. It makes them feel sad because they love us. Our comments also normalizing the act of trash-talking our bodies.
On one worksheet, the students were supposed to use the vocabulary words they had studied in a sentence. My daughter, however, chose to write a sentence on her own, using none of the required words. The sentence stopped me in my tracks.
Great mothering lives in being the biggest fan. It means letting children be who they are instead of trying to change them to be who we want them to be, and it means guiding them gently in the way they should go.
She's mesmerized by the girls, and I'm fascinated by her. I can feel her leaning into them. We are social animals and her timer has gone off and she wants to participate. She wants friendships and cross talk with children her own age. She yearns to be close to older children, older girls.
This "deodorant effect" applies to life in general: Anytime you can do something simple to ward off a problem down the road, do it. It gives you the best chance to come out smelling like roses... or at least not like body odor.
Every time I hear her loudly demanding to watch Frozen again or asking for the RED cat shirt, not the white one, I think to myself: Yes, speak up! I silently hope she will always take up space and use her strong voice.
If my daughter had my body, did that mean that she would have an adversarial relationship with her body? Or was it possible that she could retain that natural self-acceptance that children are born with?
I'm not there on the playground when she has to decide if the best decision is to hit a kid or to convince them to give her the ball. Hopefully, the argumentative skills she's learned at home teach her to get that ball without being aggressive.
I kissed a girl for the first time when I was 22 years old and fell madly in love. For nine months before, she had been my constant companion, a blind little flounder that swam and bubbled under my skin. She was warm and wet and growing every day; I was terrified.
Although other moms have warned me that the second half is hard -- perhaps the hardest -- part of having a daughter, I think we're ready to tackle it. Like any good coach, I've got a game plan, and I know what worked in the first half probably won't work in the next.