Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Liking the Daughter You Love

     


     Raising a girl can be a blessing and a challenge all at once. Girls can be enjoyable and yet so difficult at times. As I think about raising daughters, lines from the song “Maria” in the classic movie The Sound of Music come to mind. “…She is gentle! She is wild! She's a riddle! She's a child! She's a headache! She's an angel! She's a GIRL!” Girls are so lovable and yet not always likable. 

     As a mother of five daughters, I certainly love them all deeply and unconditionally. But it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t necessarily always like them. For instance, one of my girls talks excessively. This little one reminds me of the continued “Maria” lyrics, “When I'm with her I'm confused, out of focus and bemused and I never know exactly where I am…” while another daughter is highly emotional and “Unpredictable as weather, she's as flighty as a feather…” The other three deal with everything from hyperactivity, “how do you make her stay, and listen to all you say…” to overly opinionated, “many a thing you know you ought to tell her…” to stubbornness “…many a think she ought to understand.
    So, assuming there may be another mother out there that has admitted she doesn’t always like her daughter, here are a couple of things that are helping me on this journey of liking my lovables. First off, choose to like her. The story of old “Mr. Jones” comes to mind. After his wife passed away, Mr. Jones needed to move into a nursing facility. Upon arrival, the nurse walked him down the hall on his way to his room. She said, “Mr. Jones, we have prepared the room for you and we will see how things are when you get there.” He answered, “I already like it!” “But you haven’t seen it.” “No, but I have decided that I will like it!” And we can do the same as mothers. We can decide to have the attitude of accepting our children no matter what. This resolve can drive us steadily forward through the challenges that may lie ahead. I am determined to like my girls.
     Secondly, remind yourself how undesirable you have been. I can think of dozens of my behaviors that weren’t what they should have been. I don’t even know how my dear mother made it through all my questions in elementary school, my emotions in junior high, and my dominating attitude in high school. Furthermore, as an adult, I still have moments of less-than-admirable actions. None of us are completely likeable at all times. This very thought causes me to give grace to my daughters. And just as most of us know when we are being unacceptable, our children may be in tune with their own awareness of their behaviors yet may not be mature enough to know how to handle it or stop.     This leads to a third step of taking time to communicate in order to work through issues. While it is necessary to decide to like our girls and beneficial to remind our self of our own shortcomings, this doesn’t mean we just move on and let things go as they are. In fact, this is a prime time to face the issues at hand in order to gain understanding. Listen. Ask questions. Engage with her emotions. Then, share your feelings and thoughts so that she can see how her actions are affecting others and how she can improve. Sometimes we need to confront the unlikeable as we lead our girls. It may take time and several attempts but they are listening and most girls do want to know how they can be the best they can be.
  In fact, my mom and I had a talk like this just a few years. She and I were frustrated with each other. So, we talked it out. It took three hours and many tears to work through how she thought I was controlling and I thought she was careless but it worked. We both ended it feeling understood. And we also knew we both had things to work to improve.
     Finally, when all has been done, think outside your own personality. Sometimes we just don’t like our daughter because she has a different personality. There are some things about girls that are a part of who they are! I am amazed at how my five girls can all be born within seven years and each can be so unique! I have had to accept that while some things need to be changed, there are other things that are just personality.
    For example, one night I burned the rice at dinner but served it anyway to see if anyone noticed. Well, they did. And each one had a comment. My oldest said logically, “Mom, the rice is burnt because you got distracted with laundry.” My second girl responded, “Yes, but its okay because we all make mistakes, mom, and I still love you.” The next one wasted no time and spit out the food while saying, “Yuck! That is terrible!” Her younger sister took note and said, “Thanks for making it mom but I am NOT even going to taste it!” And of course, my toddler just played with the rice happily. It was just a matter of their personalities. Sometimes, it’s just easy and fun celebrating who they are and how they see life!
     Overall, learning to like the daughter you love may feel like the ending words of the “Maria” song that ask, “How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” but I believe we can. We can like them as we do all we know to do then simply embrace the fact that, like us, “She’s a GIRL!”


Published in Paradise Valley Lifestyle Magazine. Picture of girls from 2011. 






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