Raising girls is hard.
I’m not saying that raising boys isn’t. I have one of both and if you read my blog at all, you’ll know I work very hard raising my son, as well. But girls, well, they come with a whole other “layer” of girl.
Raising girls you worry about other girls. You worry about body image. You worry about feminism (yes, you do). You want to raise a strong, independent, smart, confident women who stand up for themselves, others and blah, blah, blah. Be strong, but don’t be a bitch. Speak up. But make sure to listen, too. Help others, but don’t get walked all over.
Frig. So much pressure.
Here’s what I realized this week. Yes, I want to raise my gal to be strong, but my issues and what I went through aren’t her issues and what she goes through. Do I need to educate her and teach her kindness and how to treat others? Yes. Do I need to teach her right from wrong and how to be a good friend? Absolutely. And that’s stressful. But, she’s 7 and she’s finding her own way in this new world of hers.
I’ve decided I need to put away all the “when I was her age I felt like this” type of thoughts because she is not me. I am not her. I have to remind myself that her life is very different than mine and the way she processes situations is different than the way I would have…and do.
The other day she came home from school and said “Phew, what a day!” then went on to tell me how two of her friends said they would play with her at recess but when the bell rang, they ran away from her laughing. Now, seven-year-old me? Well, I would have been decimated by that. I would have sniffled all afternoon and felt like no one liked me. My daughter? She shrugged it off and said “Well Mom, sometimes friends just want to play with other friends and that’s just fine, isn’t it? I found a different friend and it turned out just fine”.
Okay, baby girl. You got me. You are freaking amazing.
Did I teach her that? Yup. Absolutely. Do we constantly have conversations about how people are different and how amazing that is? All. The. Time.
What I learned this week is that I need to stop projecting the way I know I would have felt in situations onto her. It doesn’t help. She is not me. I am not her.
I’m raising a confident, strong girl. And you know what, Moms? You are too. Believe me. You are.
What really brought this all home to me was an experience I had in my car this week. I drove my daughter and two of her friends to Brownies. I seriously love listening to them chitter chatter in the backseat. In between the Taylor Swift songs and Halloween costume excitement, these are the words I heard each girl say to another:
You’re so amazing, I just love that idea.
Wow. You’re so creative. I love how you’re like that.
That…is absolutely adorable. You’re so smart.
You’re so tall. I love how we’re all so different.
OMG! OMG! OMG! That is just adorbs (I heard that a lot).
They went on and on and on about what good friends they are. They chatted about how “so-and-so hurt my feelings, but we worked it out by talking about it”. They squealed (no other adjective could be used, truthfully, squeal is appropriate) about how smart, “fabulous” and hilarious they are. It wasn’t about how they looked. It was about being smart, creative, fun to be around. It was about building each other up even when they talked about having hurt feelings. They empowered one another to be better friends.
Me? I said nothing. I drove on. Gobsmacked. Smiling. Tearing up.
When I worry about how my daughter is getting through the day and fret about what social interactions she may need to go through on the playground…it’s just wasted energy. After hearing how those girls were speaking to one another, I’m confident they’ll be okay. Sure, sure, they will absolutely have some social issues to work through, but that car ride? Well, it reminded me that I’m not the only Mom out there doing the work to raise incredible women.
These strong, kind, empowering girls are the girls we’re raising?! F**K YEAH WE ARE!
So Mamas, when you doubt yourself and you start projecting your feelings and childhood onto your kiddos. Stop. Take a breath. Your shit is not their shit. Their experiences are so very different. Keep talking about acceptance. Keep talking about being smart, kind, confident. Keep talking about how to be a good friend. Keep talking about what to do when you’re not a good friend or when your feelings are hurt.
Just keep talking.
Then listen. Listen to your girls. They will blow your mind and remind you that you are NOT f**cking it all up. You really aren’t.