Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The One I Hope My Daughters Read When They Are Older And Hate Me.
To my daughters,
I love you. Sometimes, I wish it was that easy, that, in parenting you, I could just say "I love you" and convey in those words everything I feel about you, everything I want for you, everything I struggle with. All I ever wanted was a daughter, and I was lucky, I got two. I am a woman, I am a wife, I am a mother, and I feel so privileged to have two beautiful girls who I can help to become women, wives (or partners, I'm okay with that) and mothers themselves.
What a task. What a huge, scary, enormous task. How can I possibly define what it means to be a woman, wrap it up into a neat little bundle and feed it to you in age appropriate chunks throughout your journey to become one? How do I figure out what is really important to teach you, what you absolutely have to know, without imposing my own values unnecessarily onto you? How do I warn you, without scaring you? How do I guide you, without making you dependant on me? How do I let go, without losing you?
I really do love you. Intensely. But the dark side to love is fear, and worry, and anger, and frustration. I hope that as you look back through your life, these are not the things you remember the most. I hope you know that under it all, is a love like a slow burning fire, warming me everyday, hurting if I got too close, but beautiful, so beautiful to sit with.
You are both so different. So raw, and so vulnerable, and fierce, and joyful, and caring... but different. Four-year-old, you are my worrier. My helper. The one that needs so much from me. You wear me down, with all your questions, and demands, and the way you want everything done just right now. You love to learn, and do things, and work things out, your own way. You want me to sit with you while you figure things out, and praise you all the way to the moon and back when you get it right. You struggle with disappointment, both your own and others. You seek out the love and attention of others - your affection is hard earned, but once it is, you are fiercely loyal. Your feelings are so strong, they scare you sometimes. They scare me sometimes. You are my mirror - when I am down, you are down; when I am joyful, you are joyful. This is such a responsibility, and sometimes I react to you as if I am reacting to myself. You show me my own flaws, and I am so sorry for passing them on to you. I worry for you, because I know how hard life may be for you.... and, then again, it may not be. You are strong, and self aware, and you are not me.
Three-year-old, you are my enigma. You are a dreamer, a thinker, a creator. You live half in this world, and half in a world of your own making. But sometimes, when you think I am not looking, I see you watching, taking everything in, taking more in than you let on. You are clever, so clever, but in a different way to your sister. You come at things in your own way, in your own time. You sift through information, keeping what is important to you and discarding the rest. Three-year-old, you wear your heart on your sleeve. Your feelings are to be shared, loudly, and with great ceremony. You dance in the street, sing all day and are most comfortable in fairy dresses and Wellington boots. You are slow, so slow, and you remind to take time to notice things around me. I get frustrated at you, and try to hurry you along, but nothing hurries you unless you are ready to be hurried. You are fiercely independent, and if I intervene in your efforts to master something, you brush me away and go right back to the beginning to do it all over again. You teach me patience.
I have to parent you both differently. You tell me it's not fair - you both tell me it's not fair - but if I parented you the same, I would be missing the point with both of you. You both have your own journey, and I try to be there for each of you. I get it wrong. Sometimes I get it very wrong. Sometimes I worry that I have gotten it so wrong, I will damage you irreparably. I know you intimately, in ways that no-one will ever know you - and yet, you both teach me something new everyday. There are days when I am heavy with the weight of you both, the burden of carrying you both through the obstacles of life, especially on the days where I find myself on a part of the journey that neither of you wanted to take. I forget, sometimes, that you are your own people. I try to shape you too precisely, and you fight me.
That's okay. Keep fighting me. Keep challenging me. Keep engaging with me, and teaching me, and loving me. If I can feel the pressure of you, then I know that we are still in it together. One day, you will be ready to move on. My role in your life will change. That's okay, too. When the time comes, I will try to be ready. I hope that you will have enjoyed your journey with me enough to revisit it from time to time.
But, for now, you are still so small. You tell me each day how big you are now, and you know, sometimes I start to believe it. I start to expect more from you than I should, and you struggle under the weight of my expectations. I will try to remember how little you are. You have been on this Earth for such a short time, and you are learning so much everyday. I will try to be your safe place, your quiet place, your soft landing. I will try to remember to carry you when you are tired, and let you walk (slowly) when your feet are ready.
So, again, I love you. I love you enough to forgive myself for my mistakes, dust myself and keep going. I will always love you, remember that, even when I am showing you the dark side of my love. I pray that I can teach you to love you, too. And to forgive. Love and forgiveness. Everything else will work itself out.
My daughters, you are my world. Thank you.