Mothers & Daughters - Part One

Saturday, November 14, 2009
"Oh, Gawd. I hope we don't have a girl."

It was maybe March and the fact that we were pregnant for the 2nd, and probably the last, time was sinking in. E and D were convinced it was a girl. I was terrified that they were right. "Oh, man. I hope it's not a stupid girl." I was more than a little bit serious. But not for the reason you think. Sure, I'd roll my eyes and talk about how girls are such a pain in the ass when they get to the tween years and who wants to deal with short skirts, bad attitudes and dopey boyfriends? But really? The reason I didn't want a girl? Because I'm not sure I can be a good mother to a daughter.


I have the distinct pleasure of hanging out a friend's four year old little girl - we'll call her Miss S, where the "s" stands for smart - and I thoroughly enjoy it. She's cute, she's curious, she's intelligent, she's thoughtful. And at the zoo the other day, while sitting over by the gorillas and nursing the babies, my friend and I discussed Miss S's social development. Basically, she's one of the youngest student's in her class and while she's on par with her peers academically, her teachers would like her to be more social. I was listening to my friend talk about this and I found myself becoming fiercely protective of Miss S. My brain raced to defend her. I watched her playing with E and thought - that girl's got social skills. Look at her! She's entertaining a 2 yr old and that's no easy feat.

Her mother and I volleyed back and forth. She wanted to respect the judgment and concerns of Miss S's teachers but also wanted to make sure that this wasn't a mole hill turned mountain. Is it really a problem? And why? I started offering reasons for her social "short-comings"...She might be an introvert! Maybe the other kids are not stimulating conversationalists and they're boring her! And all of a sudden it hit me - I was just like Miss S at her age. By defending her, I was defending myself. I preferred the company of adults. I didn't always have the desire or patience to hang out with kids my age. I didn't always share their interests. I was the oldest of three. I didn't see what the big deal was with My Little Ponies. But where Miss S and I diverged was that I didn't have exposure to a lot of the shared experiences amongst children my age. I was from a different cultural background, we didn't have cable, we couldn't afford Guess! jeans, I was being raised by my father, we moved around so much that I'd lost all impetus to make the effort to make friends, etc, etc, ETC. Not to mention that I was a tragic introvert and preferred to escape in a book. And I didn't have a parent with the knowledge and awareness to carefully examine both sides of the situation and advocate for me regardless of the outcome. So while my isolation was part choice, it was also part circumstance. But it seems like Miss S's is all choice and if that's what makes her happy...

On the way home, with E chatting it up in the backseat and B whimpering like a puppy in the seat next to him, I glanced in the rearview mirror and realized again that I had a daughter now. Little by little, I've come to terms with the fact that there are four of us and that one of us is a little girl. And like always, a tiny voice in my head said, "Uggg. A girl," but for the first time I let that voice finish it's thought (Hell, I didn't realize I'd been cutting it off!) The conversation went something like this:

Voice: "Uggg. A girl..."
Me: "Yeah, I know. I bet she'll want to dress up like a princess and wear make-up and prance around."
Voice: "Give me a break! That's so lame."
Me: "I know! The worst part is, I don't even know how to play princess."

Oh my goodness. It's so obvious. How could I be so stupid (shut up.) I'm afraid that I'm not going to be good at being a little girl again. I messed it up so royally the first time around that I'm frozen with fear at the prospect of reliving it all. Looking back at myself as a little girl, I feel so bad for her that I don't want to be her again.

So what do I do? It's been over a week and I've been consumed with this question. What do I do? How do I separate me as a little girl from B as a little girl? It certainly doesn't help that she's the spitting image of me.

As far as the whole playing princess thing...I can identify everything from a front-end loader to a back-hoe to a knuckle-boom loader because right now, big machines are E's passion, so I'm confident that I can embrace B's passions with the same fervor that I've taken on E's.

But who am I kidding? That's not really the problem, is it? The real issue is how I can concurrently learn to accept, and dare I say it, even love the little girl me without allowing it to color my mothering of B. How do I allow her to be her own person and not the reincarnation of me? How do I avoid becoming a mother as horrible as this?!? Suggestions?

2 comments to Mothers & Daughters - Part One:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Really hits home for me. Thanks.

Cloud said...

Interesting. I was a bit afraid we'd end up with a boy, because what do I know about boys?

But I hear where you're coming from. When I think about helping my daughters navigate the tween/teen years and all the social drama that comes with that, I shudder. I think it scares so much because I remember how hard those years were for me. I was the brainy girl who never had a date, and even though I had friends and a basically good social life, the datelessness still hurt. Will I be able to handle the inevitable rejection/disappointments in my daughters' lives well if I'm still hurting from my own memories?

But I think you'll do fine. As your daughter gets older and her own personality will shine through, and you won't see yourself in her quite so much. At least that's what is happening with us. My oldest is 2.5 now, and she is definitely her own person.

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