I can remember the very moment our eyes met, the smell of her breath, the rush of nausea but absolute euphoria running through my body. She was my first. And she was a girl. And all I could think of was how much guilt and remorse I felt for anything and everything I put my own mother through over the years. I called my mom right away. “I finally get it! I love you so much! I get it mom! I’m so sorry for everything. I love you so much mom!”
From that point forward I knew my roller coaster of parenthood, particularly with a little princess, would not be smooth sailing. I knew the obstacles we would face, the battles that would ensue, but I also knew the connection I was responsible for building. The mother/daughter bond I wanted so desperately to share with her from that first rush of sweet baby smell.
Looking back, the first years that seemed so difficult were actually the easiest. If given the option, some days I would trade being thrown up on, drag a wailing toddler out of a store, or stay up all night with an inconsolable newborn for parenting a 13-year-old girl. She is no longer little, neither are the problems or the difficulties she will face.
Those of you with older girls understand. The physical needs that drain us as parents in the early years are no match to the emotional needs that come later. Nothing can possibly prepare you for your daughter’s first bully, a learning or medical concern, their first heart-break or their first “real” problem they have to work out on their own because you know that’s the only way they will truly learn the life skills needed to survive in this world.
No one prepares you for the times where you honestly don’t know what to say to make things better. You can’t just grab a band-aid or a bag of M&M’s and make all her problems disappear.
We can’t even rely heavily on the advice of our own parents because they didn’t have the joy of guiding children through Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat and all the other social media outlets we don’t even know about.
So yeah, it’s scary. And most days I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But I do know a few things. When I parent with the right balance between little and big girl, life is good. When I can remember to be firm but loving she responds. When I let her be independent but cautiously stand by in case she falls she thrives. When I show her respect but demand the same, she gets it. And when I hold her, even when I think she doesn’t want me to, she still collapses into my arms and doesn’t let go.
Sure there are plenty of self-help books about raising girls, I’ve probably read them all. But trust me, there is no manual. We are in the driver’s seat with a permit and it’s our job to pass the test. No, there isn’t an instructor with a clip board documenting each mistake we make along the road, those check marks are confined to our own critical minds. So relax, your “not so little girl” will turn out ok. One day at a time, several baby steps later.
And when all else fails SMILE because…
“Raising girls is like nailing jello to a tree.” ~ Author Unknown