Thursday, January 28, 2016

Raising Daughters

A Few Weeks ago I found my Diary/Journal Under a pile of rubble in my wardrobe. I have been carrying it around in its beautiful flowery box whenever we moved house and it still has the lovely smell on the pages as when I first bought it about 16 or so years ago. I have not paid much attention to it because as far as I was concerned, I knew how I was as a teenager and going back did not interest me much. But the day I picked it out of my wardrobe, I wondered if I would find anything of interest in it, so I decided to catch my adult self up on some of the memories I had lost on the road of my life.

The teenage girl who wrote in my diary was familiar to me. She surprisingly was not such a bad writer and expressed herself much in the same way that I still do today. I laughed and ahh'd at some of the events and emotions this young girl was feeling. A lot of it was sweet and cute, and the purest form of love, well puppy love that is. It made me remember the goose bumps and butterflies I got from a crush, or a kiss. Some of it was romantic and only as a child would feel pure untainted emotion.

There are parts though that shocked me to my core. I never realised until I started reading my diary how hurt this young girl was. This part of her was so foreign to me. She carried bags of pain which in turn made her seek love in unsightly places using shameful tactics. This was something I was really not expecting. I assumed that my teenage self had a little more self respect, but when I carried on through her words, it hurt my heart to see how the utter core of her soul bled on those pages. She felt as though nobody listened to her soul, she wished for love more than anything. When she could not find it, she took what ever she could get which damaged her beyond repair.

I had a good upbringing. My parents worked hard to give my sister and I the best of everything. We went on regular vacations and visited a lot with family. Life on the surface was great and I am sure that there are people who wished they had our life. Life under the surface, however, was not so amazing as is apparent in my diary. I was loud and outgoing, but sad and lonely all at the same time. Reading my diary brought me back to a very sad day in my life. I don't remember why it was so sad, but I remember my prayer to God that day. "Lord, please give me a baby so that I can have someone to love and they would love me no matter what". I was 15, and had no idea what having a baby would be like, but I knew that there was love somewhere in it, and I wanted that no matter what.

Now this is not to say that my parents don't love me at all, as I am sure they do. But being a parent myself with very verbal children, I have found that it is so easy to mislead them into thinking that we don't love them. Liam has reminded me on many occasion that we act like we don't love him, although we tell him everyday.

This has made me revaluate the way I look at love. We know that Love is a doing word, but expect it to understood by just saying 'I Love You', and doing nothing more. If parenting has taught me anything, its that your children don't only do what you do, but they take to heart your actions more than your words.

Being a woman, delicate and sensitive, actions speak much more volumes for me than for any of my male counterparts, which makes me wonder how Aspen interprets my actions. We have taught our kids to tell us whats on their minds, even if we don't like it. Aspen has taken this opportunity to call me out on all my wrongdoings without hesitation. Most of the time I am left speechless because a lot of what she observes is true. Of late she has been acting out quite a bit and I was reminded again of that young girl in my diary. Do I make Aspen feel unloved? Do I treat her like another one of the kids? Do we pay any real attention to her?

Again, Like I, She is a girl, delicate and sensitive, my actions speak volumes to her. How I raise her will help her make her choices. I don't want her choices to based on finding love, even if it means its from a prince somewhere. I don't want her writing those same painful words my teenage self wrote in her diary. Honesty, I don't think any mother wants that for their daughters. But like everything, I need to make those differences in her life.

The plan of action is not set, but I think we are off to a pretty good start. Many people may not appreciate our kids candid opinions about us, but it helps us as parents recognise the warning signs. Its easier for me to tell when Aspen needs me because she verbalises it, she does not expect me to read her mind. Its healthy for them to express those feelings and especially for young girls who have to deal with things like peer pressure, yes even at six years of age, bullying and self esteem, she allows me to always know when its time to step in and put a positive word where someone or something else left a negativity.

I see my six year old self in my Aspen, and right here, right now, I get to decide how the rest of her life plays out. Nothing is ever set in stone, but being deliberate goes a long way. I may not like what I read in my diary, but those experiences have made me aware, aware that one small misunderstanding, one negative word and mostly one negative action could alter my children existence for eternity. These kids will not leave my home with bleeding wounds, they will have scars that push them to be, do and act better.

Reading my Diary seems like a small thing, but it has forever changed the way I look at my kids, especially my precious girl. She needs to feel loved and secure 100% of the time, and one day when someone offers her false love she will know the difference, leave them there, come home and talk to me about it.

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