Friday, May 31, 2013

Shooshy: Raising My Daughter

Being Mother to my daughter has changed me so much and I have learned so much! Seriously!  Stuff I had no idea I needed to know...

When the kids were smaller, nearly all of my friends had children their ages. In fact a huge percentage of my friends had kids the same age and gender of my own kids. Older daughter, son three and a half years younger. And almost without fail, the mothers of the daughters were struggling with their daughters. We were all in such a similar boat.
And we were confused.

Yes, her name is Elizabeth.
My nickname for her is Shooshy.
I don't mind admitting it now:  we would all get together and talk about how weird it was that our younger sons were so easy and our older daughters were so hard. We would share our frustrations with that frisson that we all seemed to experience with our older daughters:  fireworks just below the surface, a difficulty with feeling really close to them at times, and a confusion with why we felt that way. Back then it seemed uncanny how similar the dynamics of our families were. Now I know that our dynamics were all totally normal. I mean, is it really surprising that strong women would have strong daughters?!

My daughter is apologetically herself. And no wonder that freaked me out, I was such a sweet girl when I was younger. And I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that in a wishy-washy kind of way. In the way where people took advantage of me, walked around me, ignored me... And that simply will not happen to my daughter; she wouldn't allow it! Add to that the fact that I was essentially motherless for all of my teen years and it might explain why I am sometimes confused as to what to do with her, with how best to parent her.

I Can Do This

Being her mother has taught me to appreciate the determination of a child who will not do what she does not want to do. It has taught me that anger and rudeness are sometimes hiding a confused and hurt person. It has taught me that a mother's loving touch is a truly healing thing. It has reinforced what I already know:  learning to use one's words is a journey toward good emotional health and a sense of personal power. I now know that one action can have an equal and surprising reaction. I can never give her too many kind words or too much love or too many positive messages. She struggles enough inside that she can often use help finding her way out of an internal morass of her own making. 

I now know that it is a truly loving thing to set limits and to enforce them - because she told me! I now know that remembering to apologize for the times when I jump to conclusions or when I make other mistakes deeply strengthens her. All of the "professionals" out there telling me to avoid being her friend were very very wrong. In fact, all of the rules of the so-called experts out there do not trump my own instinct. Our relationship takes deliberate work. Being her parent has taught me that when she yells "I hate this family" she needs tender loving care and not a reactive display of hurt or anger.

I have learned that I have reserves of patience that even surprise me sometimes! I have learned that she is still surprised to tears when she finds out that I truly like her. I have learned that second-hand shops have both the best and the worst clothing. I've learned that both of my kids will still stop almost any other activity to sit on the bed and talk. I have learned that those very moments that I want to send her to her room are the very moments I have to stick it out and help her through the feelings, because the last thing she needs at that point is to stew in her own tangles.

She Always Means Well

I have learned that I can trust her completely to tell me the truth because I have respected her honesty in the past. I have learned that I can lose her trust, especially where her friendships are concerned.  Because her friendships are her lifeline. I have learned that almost everything is negotiable. I have learned to include both of the kids in our major discussions and decisions. I have also learned that the more often I give choices instead of orders the better she reacts to the times when I must give a nonnegotiable expectation.  

I have learned that chocolate really does soothe the savage beast.

I have learned to give wide latitude with clothing, behavior, hair, and other issues of appearance. I have learned that my mistakes may be larger now, but her heart is larger too. I have learned that time is a wonderful smoother of rough edges. I have learned how lucky I am to have this child! I have learned that, when blogging about my daughter, to always get her approval first!  

And I have learned that daughters really do grow up to be friends.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:  
My Thirteen Tips for Parenting your Strong-Willed Child 
Her Face 
Are Homeschoolers Weird?
A Query from a Confused Parent


  1. so endearing. I strive to have this sort of a mother-daughter bond with Emma. I used to worry about it because I am not very close to my own mother.
    And then her you go inspiring me again :) keep it up.

    1. Ame',
      With my background, I can promise you, if I can do it, anyone can!
      I know you can.

  2. Karen,
    I'd love to connect with you outside of your blog. Can you look me up on Facebook and friend me?

    1. I'm so glad we've become friends!
      Thank you for taking that risk...


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