Someday, When My Daughters Are Teenagers
"Oh, just you wait..." Is what I hear. That amused dread. "Enjoy them while they're little because when they become teenagers they'll turn on you fast." Add to this those who are absolutely titillated by recounting my own teenaged years and are telling me that my girls will be exactly like me. Then you have John saying, "dear God help us all." I wasn't that bad as a teen. ... Ok. It could have been worse. But I came out on the other side whole, confident, but mostly, I came out alive.
Popular media would like you to grow up thinking that young girls are the enemy to all things wholesome and healthy. For every mother/daughter dynamic that is symbiotic on tv, there are 15 pairs that are at each other's throats in a knock down, drag out fight to the psychiatrist's chair. Is that real? I mean, would that be real if it wasn't portrayed that way for us? When I look at my girls, 4 and 22 months, I honestly can't picture them transforming into beasts (which is what everyone seems to think is what's going to happen) because they're mine. And they're not perfect, but I enjoy them. I can't ever imagine not enjoying them; even if they become complicated and difficult. What if I just believed in the people they were about to become? What if...
What if I answer every question they have honestly even if it leaves me vulnerable?
What if I do my best to keep the channels of communication clear of judgment and supremacy?
What if they are good to others?
What if they realize it's my job to keep them safe and it's a job that is perpetual?
What if instead of condemning an unfamiliar activity, I ask them to explain it to me?
What if I build them up and feed their self worth so that they are not easily destroyed?
What if I told them they needn't feel obliged to please anyone?
What if I remember what peer pressure is like and before doling out punishment, we talk about individuality and how important it is in this world of carbon copies?
What if they never feel trivialized by me?
What if I let them make a mistake or two so they can know what that feels like and understand why it's important to fix what is broken?
What if they don't think I am jealous of their youth because they see me secure in my age?
What if their courage inspires me?
What if I just clear my mind and listen, really listen, without the need to correct or alter?
What if I encourage them to laugh so I can make sure they are taking care of their teeth?
What if I never try to muffle their voices, even if they are loud?
What if instead of fighting against the hormones coursing through their bodies, I encourage them to listen to that, so that they may never marginalize their own needs for anyone else?
What if they make good decisions apart from my input because I don't have all the right answers?
What if they never stop asking for my advice?
What if I just accept them, for the good, the bad, and the acne?
What if I hold them and tell them that they are enough?
What if I remember to tell them they are smart, funny, and thoughtful just as much as I tell them that they are pretty?
What if I teach them how to throw a really good punch and hope they never have to use it?
What if I really, truly, dig their art?
What if I jump the gorge for them on a skateboard?
What if they struggle with something and I deal with it compassionately?
What if I tell them that strength is sexy?
What if they are thankful for what they have?
What if I tell them that their bodies are their own?
What if I tell them that they are meant to do great things?
What if I allow them their emotions?
What if instead of denying their sexuality I empower them to build a healthy sense of what that is?
What if we are respectful of each other's time?
What if I lead by example?
What if my love for them is utterly unwavering? Not stopping, not even for a second? What if they never feel so hopeless that there is no love for them, because there will always be me... standing there, with whatever emotion I have for them, at them time, in my eyes, but nothing but love in my heart? What if I kiss them goodnight every night? What if I trust... that they are good people because they are mine, and I am a good person?
There will be naysayers. There will be detractors along the way. I think that we are so ingrained with the notion that healthy mother/daughter relationships do not exist, that people will actually hope I fail. I won't though. Because I'll remember my what ifs and turn those questions into answers.