I love my daughter. She is an amazing young woman—but, being her mother has taken me to my knees more frequently than anything else on this planet.
My daughter decided she was ready to greet the world a month before she was due. She was the tiniest person I had ever seen. My little Sagittarius baby was five pounds and thirteen ounces of brilliant fire.
The first time I saw her little face was the first time in my young life that I had ever experienced real love.
I was only eighteen when my daughter was born. Usually, it was unclear who was raising who. I was an anxious young mother, and she was a colicky new born. We paced the floor night after night while she cried in pain. I would have given anything to stop the pain for her. I would have taken a bullet right then and there if someone promised my little girl would never hurt again.
That’s what daughters do. They teach us unconditional, selfless love. They steal our hearts so completely—we really don’t even stand a chance. They just show up with their sweet baby smiles, and big sparkling eyes and next thing you know—they have become your whole world.
On the first day of kindergarten, I dressed my daughter up, fed her, and loaded her up in the car, along with her baby brother. She was so excited to go to school. We walked her to class, where she begrudgingly paused in the hallway long enough to allow one photograph. She gave me a quick hug and said, “bye mom!” as she waltzed through the door. I stood in the hallway and watched her as she went right in and made herself at home, asking the other little girls if they wanted to play with her.
That’s what daughters do. They insist on marvelling us with their independence and courage. The little monsters can’t even see how our hearts break as we are told that they no longer require our constant attention.
Oh, but they make us proud, too. They remind us that we can also be fearless and bold, and step gracefully out of our comfort zones.
When my daughter was about ten years old, we went to the grocery store together. We were waiting in line to pay for our stuff when she noticed that the elderly woman in front of us was struggling with the credit card machine. She tried over and over, but couldn’t get her card to work.
My child tugged on my arm and whispered, “Mom, give me your card.”
I handed it to her, and watched as she placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder and asked if she could help. The woman looked like she might cry as she hugged my daughter and said, “thank you.”
That’s what daughters do. They remind us to be kind and compassionate, and generous. They show us how to be better citizens, better people. Sometimes, they make us so damn proud we cry, right there in the middle of the grocery store. Sometimes they make us wonder just how we got so lucky to be raising such a bad-a** little human.
Then the teenage years come, and we watch our little princesses turn into women. My daughter struggled to find her place in middle school. Girls that age are horrible creatures. They’re moody and snarky, and rude. Blame the hormones, or the internet, or the media if you wish. Girls are awful. Listening to my daughter and her friends gossip drove me nuts. The never ending drama wheel of bullsh*t made me insane.
How could such lovely little creatures be so nasty?
But, that’s what daughters do. They show us the worst parts of ourselves in the biggest, clearest mirror there is. If our daughters are snarky and rude, chances are they’ve learned that behavior in part from watching their moms with their grown up girlfriends. They remind us constantly that if we want to have a good friend, we have to be a good friend. They emulate us without even trying, because they have learned what they have lived. When we don’t like our daughter’s behavior, there’s a good chance it’s time for us to make some changes in our own.
Somehow, we survived high school. She worked so hard for her grades, and her friendships, and her first car. It wasn’t until then that I realized, the teen years have lots of big, emotional milestones just like the baby years. There were so many firsts- boyfriends, and dances, college applications, and the part time job at the burrito place.
The years fly by, and it seems they change every day.
When they are babies, they are physically exhausting, as we stay up all night pacing, feeding, singing, and doing everything else we can think of to get them to go back to sleep. When they are teenagers, they are emotionally exhausting, as we stay up all night waiting for them to get home, or wondering if they are safe while they are out with friends, or talking them through break ups, or friend drama, or test anxiety.
That’s what daughters do. They bring back all the memories from our youth. The way the whole high school grieves when one of its students is lost in a tragedy. The way that first love hurts and hurts and hurts when it’s over. The way your hands shake with excitement when you’re opening the mail to find a shiny new driver’s license, or a college acceptance letter inside. We have the opportunity to celebrate the highest highs with them. And also, the impossible task of convincing them that the lowest lows won’t last forever.
Then, one day, they leave. Even with all the happy anticipation of college and new beginnings, nothing can ever really prepare us for the day our little birds leave the nest. You’ll wonder how she waltzed out your door so effortlessly, and again, you’ll marvel at her bravery and strength. One day she will call you in tears, her life crumbling around her. Every fiber of you will want to run to her, to scoop her up, bring her home, and make her favorite chicken dinner. But you can’t this time—or, rather, you don’t, because you know that this is life’s classroom. It’s her turn now, to figure things out for herself.
One day your little princess will call you and say, “Hey, remember the dragon that had me in tears the other day? I totally slayed him.”
And you will say, “Of course you did. You got the bada** gene from your mommy.”
And, that’s what daughters do. They make you contemplate how cruel life is to pull your heart right out of your chest, give it legs, and let it walk through the world without the protection of your flesh and bones. Then, they show you how resilient, strong, and capable they are. They show you all the best parts of yourself, the parts that you thankfully passed right down to them. They teach you how to love them in a way that allows them to be free. And, again, you’ll begin to wonder, who is raising who, because it seems like you’re the one who is always learning something.
That’s what daughters do. They teach us how to be better women. They teach us unconditional love and acceptance. They show us how powerful the female spirit is. And, every day, they amaze us with their strength, their beauty, and their ability to overcome every single obstacle life throws their way.
Daughters show us how to be fearless as we go to battle with our dragons, and remind us that the bada** gene we see in them, came from us.
Author: Renée Dubeau
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Mateo Bagnoli at Flickr