Raising Daughters

I snipped at her this morning as she was walking from her bedroom to the front door where I was standing. I didn’t like what she was wearing and we were already running late. Black leggings and a sweatshirt. Seems okay, right? But they were the cheap $5 leggings from Old Navy that are too thin to wear as pants in my opinion. They’re mine. I bought them to wear under dresses and tunics that are long enough to cover my middle-aged lumps and bumps. Lumps and bumps that she does not have.

She asked me if she could borrow them while I was getting dressed this morning. I didn’t question what she was going to wear them with. I thought she knew better. She has worn them many times before with loose flowy tops that didn’t necessarily accentuate her rear end.

She was wearing a sweatshirt. No, not a baggy long one like the kind that people wear with yoga pants to run errands in. A regular crew neck style with the waist band that sits at the waist. In other words, not long enough to cover the booty. Not something I want her wearing to school.

I can’t even remember exactly what I said to her, but I know it wasn’t nice. And it didn’t make her feel good. I fussed all the way down the stairs and across the parking lot of our apartment building to the car. She looked at her legs while I drove. And she told me it was okay because they weren’t see-through. I know she was right and only trying to reassure me. But I wanted to be right. I’m the mom, so I’m supposed to be right.

The thing is, it really isn’t about the leggings. It’s about my daughter. And the hopes and dreams that I have for her. And that she has for herself. I’ve gotten this far with her. She just turned sixteen a few months ago. But there is still so much more to teach her. 

There are such blurred lines between many critical things she needs to know. For instance, how to be strong and confident, but not be a mean girl. There is a difference between being gentle and kind with letting others walk all over you. There is a difference between being a bad ass and being a bitch. There is a difference between being strict and being bossy. With being sexy and being slutty. With being classy and being cheap. Being real and being fake.

I want her to be able to wear what she wants and feel confident about it. But there is a time and place for everything. You don’t wear the same kinds of clothes to church that you’d wear to the gym. Or to school on an ordinary day that you’d wear to prom. Or to a wedding that you’d wear to go out clubbing. Or to a job interview that you’d wear to do gardening.

Moms, it is up to us to teach our daughters how to grow up to be strong, confident women. To be independent leaders in our communities and in their families they create too. To have a voice in their relationships with others, both in the work place and in their social circles. To know that there are always choices for them to make. And consequences that go with them.

It isn’t that I want to make her into someone I want her to be. But I want to help her become the best version of herself. To be genuine. To find her passion and go after it. To find that zest for life. That happiness so many of us either never find. Or maybe take a lifetime to find. I want her to love her life and everything in it. And to never settle for less than she deserves.

But it is also our job to make sure she is prepared for life’s twists and turns. The disappointments that come whether we want them to or not. The hardships that we must know how to handle. The heartbreak that we can’t let break us. The sacrifices we sometimes have to make. To be responsible and not reckless.

We must teach them to be street smart. To hold her head high, but always look over your shoulder. To have the wisdom to recognize deception. To stay safe and protected. To accept that we will make mistakes. And how to recover from them. Not to dwell on what others think of us, but understand that the impressions we leave will make a difference.

Moms, we teach our daughters by the examples we set for them. From the time when they are little girls, we are modeling what it means to be a woman by the way we play the role. They watch us. They learn. They see us with our own parents and siblings. They see us with our friends. Our bosses and co-workers. Our husbands/partners and children. How we treat strangers and how we take care of pets. How we cook meals and spend money and keep a home.

Moms, they learn from us. Whether we want them to or not, they do. Most of us want better for our daughters than what we have had or done. So, tell her about that. Let her know about the regrets you have. The accomplishments you’ve made. Are you poised or frivolous? Are you frugal or careless with your finances? She sees you mom. What do you want her to learn?

So, it really isn’t just about the leggings. I felt bad all day after that morning we had. So I apologized later. For being snippy. I know I hurt her spirit. When she was feeling good about herself, I gave her self doubt. The last thing I ever want to do. She’s a good girl who deserves to be spoken to with kindness.  She would most likely have understood and changed her shirt if I was only more gentle about it. If only we were not in a rush.

But she sees me make mistakes. And she learns how to apologize for wrongdoings when they are ours to own. A lesson in itself.

She has a boyfriend now. He is kind and polite and treats her with respect. I’m not sure I am ready for that, but she has made some wonderful choices so far. Her friends, her hobbies, her behavior, both at school and outside of school. She is everything a mother could want in a daughter and more. I must be doing something right. And I’m so very proud of the young woman she has become. 

Moms, it’s okay to be snippy with our daughters sometimes. But don’t feel bad about it. Because I bet most of you are doing a great job.

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