11 Things I've Learned from my Daughter
Rock On, Mom!
11 Things I've Learned from My Daughter in Honor of her 11th Birthday
My daughter is soon to be 11, and I've loved every minute of every day since the moment she was born. I've known since shortly after her arrival that she would be my one and only child and that fact has allowed me to truly appreciate every milestone and all the day to day activities we share. Below are 11 things I've learned from my daughter since the day she was born in honor of her 11th birthday.
1. Rocks in Pockets are Normal
The first time I found rocks in my daughter's pocket, I was extremely confused. What was this? Why was she doing this? I asked her; she was probably two at the time, and she didn't have an answer. I tried to talk her out of it to no avail, and she's been doing it as long as she was old enough to carry rocks on her own. As the years have gone by, I'm not surprised by rocks in her pockets. In fact, I'd probably be surprised if I didn't find rocks in her pocket after any outdoor play. It's just one of those things I've come to accept without question. In the big scheme of things, it doesn't matter why she stores rocks in her pocket; she just does, and that's normal...for us.
2. Chucky Dolls are the Perfect Alternative to American Girl Dolls
Many 11 year old girls have a collection of American Girl dolls, Barbie dolls, or baby dolls, but not mine. She doesn't even like these types of dolls. Instead, she rather play with Chucky, Pennywise, and Jason. Her 2 1/2' Chucky doll has scared me during dark adventures to the bathroom more than once, but I wouldn't trade her creepy buddy for anything. He's part of who she is, she likes the unusual and unexpected, and I love her for that. I embrace the things that make her different, and encourage her to be confident about what she likes and doesn't.
3. Dresses are an Option, But Put Shorts on Underneath
I wouldn't say that my daughter is opposed to wearing dresses because she will on occasion put one on, but she isn't a huge fan. If I can talk her into a dress for a special occasion shorts must be worn under the dress. The shorts are more for me than her. An accidental panty flash or spontaneous cartwheel would embarrass me much more than her. There isn't a whole lot that gets this kid in a tizzy.
4. She's Going to Screw Up - And So Am I
At daycare, they use to send home these little papers at the end of the day describing everything she did while she was there. Everything from how many diapers they changed to her behavior for the day was documented on a little scrap of paper that I would obsess about for hours after picking her up. The first time she bit another child, I barely slept a wink. Why would my child bite another child?
I immediately imagined a future with a child in rehab and a career on the pole. The third through billionth time she bit another child, I was beside myself with anxiety. Then Kindergarten started and so did the trouble. She can't sit still, she's impulsive, she's reckless, she interrupts....These were all things people were saying about my daughter, and I didn't know what to do. Finally, I started working on the big stuff, and letting the small stuff slide. It wasn't that I didn't care about her singing at the top of her lungs during quiet time, I just had a ton of issues to get through, so I chose my battles wisely.
Over the years, this has worked for both of us. Now I know, she's going to screw up, and so am I. What really matters is how we get through these things together. I also realize she is probably always going to be in the spotlight. She isn't content sitting quietly, blending in with the crowd, or waiting her turn, and these aren't necessarily bad things. We just have to work on self-control, and knowing when it's appropriate to speak up or act, and when she needs to wait her turn and hold her tongue. It's a work in progress, but we'll get there.
5. I Can't Fix All Her Problems
Not only have I accepted that I can't fix all my daughter's problems, but I now know that I shouldn't, even if I could. When she was younger, I wanted to fix everything. I thought if I could fix everything, her life would be better. As the years went by, I realized fixing all her problems wasn't a good solution. Now, I encourage her to fix her problems. I'm here, and willing to help, but she has to put in the work. In addition to not fixing her problems for her, I've also learned to let her face consequences on her own.
If she forgets to put her name on her paper and loses her recess ; as a result, that's her problem and not a problem I can or should fix. She needs to be responsible for herself, and find solutions to her problems. I figure teaching her to do this now will save us both a lot of time and heartache in the future.
7. I'm Ready to Listen
Kids don't make appointments, and I don't want my daughter to feel like she needs to schedule time to talk with me. In fact, when there is something I want to talk about, I bring it up whenever I want, and I want her to do the same thing.
8. I Didn't Know I Could Love her Dad as Much as I Do
My daughter's dad and I were high school sweethearts! We were married for almost five years when she was born and had been together almost 8. When she was born, I was madly and deeply in love with this man, and couldn't imagine that our love would go stronger. Then it did! My husband was now a dad, and I loved him more. I love the way he is with our daughter, with us, and I couldn't have picked a better father for my baby girl.
While he definitely would prefer answering questions about hunting, fishing, or shooting, he isn't afraid to talk about the tough stuff either. Drugs, periods, boobs, boys, you name it, and my daughter feels comfortable talking to her dad about it. He never makes her feel uncomfortable or ashamed of herself, her body, or her choices, and hopefully, she'll choose a man just like him someday because he shows her every day how a good man treats his wife and his daughter.
9. She is Always Watching
Everyone is allowed to have a bad day, even moms. However, I always try to put my best foot forward because I know she is watching. Even when I don't think she is listening or paying attention, there is a good chance she is. Instead of seeing me wig out at the guy who cut me off, or yell and shout when an injustice occurs, I try to put my best foot forward. I want her to emulate the best of me..not the worst of me. To do that, I have to behave the way I want her too all the time and not just when I think or know she is watching me.
10. Be Honest
I'm not suggesting you tell your 2-year-old about the tooth fairy or Santa, but I do think parents should be honest with their children. It's not long before they figure things out, and start to ask questions. My husband and I agreed well before the Santa question came about what we would do. We agreed we would answer her questions honestly if they seemed legit. When she was in 4th grade, the issue came, and we answered it. She wasn't devastated and was excited to be part of the Santa secret.
I also always refused to tell her things like monsters would get her if she didn't do what I said, or insist that other imaginary things were real. I want my daughter to ask me tough questions someday, and the only way I can guarantee she will accept what I say as the truth is if I build up my credibility. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I try to always tell the truth when she asks me questions. More importantly, if I don't know, we find out together, and if it's something that garners opinions, (such as our ghosts real) I encourage her to do her research and come up with her own opinions.
11. She's the Only Person Who Can Make me Cry and Laugh at the Same Time
On more than one occasion, my daughter has made me cry. She's also made me laugh. Sometimes, she makes me laugh and cry at the same time. She is beautiful, spunky, unique, and makes me proud every day. She wasn't created to be the perfect daughter, nor was I set up to be the perfect mother.
However, together, we are doing the best we can, and will continue to for the rest of our lives. Perfect parents don't parent perfect children. In fact, most seemingly perfect parents and children are a bit fractured and sad when the facade fades. I admit I'm flawed, imperfect, and maybe a bit broken, but so is she.
No matter what...at the end of the day, I'm a great mom, and she's a great kid. I expect big things from this kid someday, and no matter where she goes or what she does, I'll always be her biggest fan!
What Have You Learned from Your Daughter?
What has your daughter or daughters taught you? Feel free to share your comments below.