It is not unusual for my daughter and me to create time together. I absolutely love that weeks before her 13TH birthday she still says these words — “I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with just you mom!”
As it happened this past weekend we planned to spend Sunday afternoon together, a day that also coincided with the Dove Self-Esteem Weekend dedicated to creating an hour with a girl.
“It is powerful when one person believes in you. The confidence that comes from just one person letting you know they believe in you can help erase doubt, overcome self-consciousness and elevate a dream into a reality. But now imagine that one confident woman or girl multiplied by a thousand. Now a hundred thousand. Now a million. With this confidence compounded, expressed, and amplified we can absolutely create a world where girls realize their full potential.” -Dove Foundation
What does it take to create self-confidence? How do we show someone that we believe in them?
Belief in oneself begins in childhood and I believe the onus of confidence building in children falls on parents. We all have feet and our feet belong inside our own shoes, it is not a child’s job to fill our shoes anymore then it is ours to fill theirs.
My daughter is not me nor do I want her to be.
A woman who embodies authenticity and the spirit of collaboration. A woman who knows who she is and is grateful for her place in this world. A woman who will hold herself to a high standard and remain capable of personal accountability. A woman who believes in herself.
All these aspirations I have for her future-self won’t just materialize because I “hope and pray” that they do. On the contrary, it takes a daily commitment to raise children. And it’s a million little things that demonstrate our belief in our kids.
Does she have to post-pone those feelings of empowerment until she is an adult? Of course not…we have to afford our children the opportunity to try out their tools while they still have the hammock of home to fall into.
The night before our planned day together, in a wave of enthusiasm post evening out as a family, Chandler unaware of the time, called a friend at 10:30 PM. Her purpose was to solidify their attendance at a baseball game the next day.
“What are you doing? Do you have any idea what time it is?” I hissed. Her eyes looked up at me and my announcement registered across her face… she left a rushed voice mail for her friend and as soon as she ended it I blasted her.
“It is 10:30! What are you thinking?”
“Oh my gosh Mom…I just wasn’t thinking…I realize it was a mistake…”
“I get it…we just got home from The Haunted Trail…I know you’re excited, but it’s late. You aren’t allowed to call someone after 9:00 at night, remember?”
“Sorry. I really didn’t know what time it was.”
Fast forward to the next morning where upon waking she learned that her first order of business was a phone call to apologize for her late phone call intrusion to both her friend, and her friends parents.
“You’re kidding right?”
“Dead serious actually. Along with the privilege of having use of your phone is the obligation to follow rules. I know it wasn’t intentional but your dad and I both expect you to apologize for your temporary absence of thought.”
And she did.
As I listened to her voice quake when her friend’s father returned her call I felt a tenderness for her–you see accountability isn’t something that just happens–it is taught.
There is nothing more poignant then admitting out loud that you have made a mistake and apologizing for it.
Relief washed over her when her friend’s dad accepted, then thanked her for her apology. He also told her that their rules were the same and had it been the other way around his daughter would have had to do the same. He told her he believed that it was an honest mistake.
In short his message reinforced her trustworthiness and that contributed to her belief in herself too.
The next part of our day involved my carting her to and from the aforementioned ball game. Being allowed to do things without parental supervision is still relatively new for her. We drove to the field, I waited until she confirmed that it was the right field and then drove away thinking about how she is “going out” with one of the players and how nervous he may be that she is in the stands with her friend watching him play.
Both of them were oblivious to the butterflies I had in my own stomach for entirely different reasons.
As I drove my mind drifted to Rosalind Wiseman and her book “Queen Bees & Wannabes” . it is loaded with great information and fabulous “real-deal” advice. The one I deeded? “check your baggage.”
Lately…my baggage has been totally in the way, not only was it unchecked? It was smack dab under-foot.
So much so that Chandler and I kept tripping over trunks of it. The truth trickled into my veins as the car put physical distance between where she was and me. Hands gripped on the steering wheel I realized that all along I had been the driver of fear based interactions with my child.
I had been negative about Chandler’s crush.
Negative because I don’t want her to travel the path I walked. And for a brief time — I was seeing my girlhood — instead of seeing Chandlers.
Having a crush at nearly 13 is completely and utterly normal.
I know this. The boy she likes is nice, his parents are nice…what is my problem?
I thought more about the idea of checking my baggage and resolved that I would. Doing so will make room for my own daughter to reveal her thoughts and feelings,who she is right now, without competing with my childhood for attention.
I literally opened my window and released my former girl-self to the wind.
Later we headed to the beach — just the two of us — and we walked for a few miles.
And as the sun dipped further into the horizon I watched as she played near the waters edge. There, she was free to be herself. No phone, no friends, no distractions.
Truly there is little else I find more beautiful.
Later, as I looked into her eyes and mulled over the pieces of her story that have been told, I see a girl who embodies confidence.
She is outspoken, clear, strong and smart.
It was as if I was seeing her for the first time.
Placing my own fears to the side serves her.
Her future is in her hands and I have the privilege of being with her and in it.
There is no where else I would rather be then in the present with my child.
Lucky, lucky us.
This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow’s happiness grow.” – Margaret Lindsey