Love lessons from my girl

Diving under the water I feel the cold hit me and take my breath. I swim two strokes away and then quickly turn back. When I surface, she is smiling and jumping with excitement.

“See,” she says in a voice filled with joy. “It feels so great mom. It’s amazing, right? I just love this.”

lolaShe throws her head back and raises both arms in the air and shouts, “I LOVE THIS!!!”

“It’s wonderful,” I say and she collapses into me in a giant whole body hug that ends up under the water.

We play follow the leader along the Tahoe shoreline, she swimming just a few paces in front of me. I marvel at the girl she is becoming.

Occasionally she stops to point out a fish, a rock, or part of a log that looks like an eye. The smile never leaves her face. Or mine.

“I love you,” she says as we stop to catch our breath. I can see the truth of those words radiating off her. She is positively glowing and it melts me.

It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to see her embrace the adventurous side of her personality. I’ve wanted to see her let go of her fears and just allow life to come her way for so long.

I’m positively giddy at seeing her growth.

My girl.

How I love you.

For many years now, I’ve been certain that I’m screwing up as a mother, particularly her mother. There are so many things I want for her and no skills to help her achieve them.

I see her being scared of spiders, heights, talking to strangers and lots of other little things and I feel like I’ve let her down.

I have felt my dream of raising a fearless, self-confident girl slipping away from me, and it sends me into spirals of doubt and fear.

Do I set a good example? Do I push too hard? Am I not pushing enough? Does she feel like I don’t accept her? Am I trying to make her something she isn’t? Does she feel loved enough?

It’s all so much and I don’t want to screw this up.

She deserves my very best self, and I don’t always give it to her.

I don’t always know what to do.

***

I’m lying in her bed and we are saying our goodnights. I lean in for my kisses and she grabs my face with both hands and looks at me. I see her eyes fill with tears, her face redden and she asks me a question that I’ve never wanted to hear from her sweet little lips.

“Mommy, do you think I’m weird?”

Without waiting a second for an answer, her body erupts into such intense sobs that all I can do is hold her.

My baby thinks she is weird.

My amazing, wonderful, funny, creative, kind, spiritual, beautiful girl thinks she is weird.

My heart breaks.

I want to tell her that she is being ridiculous. How could you think such a thing? Who told you that, because I want to punch them in their stupid, ugly face? Don’t you know how special and incredible you are?

But that is not what she needs. She knows how I feel about her and this isn’t about me. She wants to be heard.

So I take a breath and listen.

She tells me she worries because she doesn’t like to dress like a girl all the time or do her hair fancy. She doesn’t like the same things as other girls. Dragons are her favorite animals and she would rather do karate and hold a snake than dance and dream of unicorns.

“Nobody is ever going to be my best friend,” she sobs. “I’m so weird.”

Her body rocks as another round of hard sobs course through her. I let them come.

“Do you think I’m weird?” she finally says.

Her eyes are so intense and sad. I don’t know what to do.

“I love everything about you,” I say. “Do you like you?”

She blinks up at me and she stops crying.

“I think so,” she says.

“What do you like about you?” I ask.

She stares at me and I can see her face change.

“I’m funny and I am special because I don’t just do what everyone else does.”

“What else?”

“I’m kind and I give good back massages.”

“All true.”

Smiling she went on.

“I’m really good at round-house kicks, my sensei told me so.”

“Yep.”

“I bet I will find someone who likes all that stuff, huh?”

“Maybe, but they don’t have to like all the same stuff. They just have to like you.”

Her face becomes intense again and she says, “Do you really like me mom? Like, for real?”

“More than you can possibly understand,” I tell her. “You’re my girl and I can’t imagine you any different.”

We end in kisses, cuddles and hugs. Her brother, who overheard it all, comes in to tell her how much he loves her. Summer sister gets in on the action too and soon the night ends in a ridiculous love fest.

Learning to love this girl and letting her find her own answers is the hardest thing about being her mother.

My heart wants to fight away all things that come in her path and protect her from all sadness.

That’s wrong.

She needs to find her own strength and it comes from letting her feel pain.

I can’t fix things. All I can do is Listen and Love.

That’s my job.

Listen. Love. Repeat.

Thanks for the lesson my dear girl.

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16 thoughts on “Love lessons from my girl

  1. This post made me sad. The happiness Ainsley feels when I finally got in the water with her in Tahoe so mortified of my size bad appearance in a suit I could not really relax enough to have fun. And mostly because because Ainsley too feel she’s weird and uncool. Apparently the mean kids at school tell her that and age doesn’t fit in or have a best friend or much more than acquaintances. I worry for her self esteem as she continues to feel like she does not fit in or is not worthy at school when in essence she is an amazing, talented cool kid who deserves best friends. 😦

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    • My heart hurts for Ainsley too. It is hard to be unique and special like our girls. They will shine. Have no fear. They are jewels and they will rise to the top. In the meantime, we mommas have the hard job of watching them find their place in this sometimes unforgiving world. Love her up and she will be fine. She has you.

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  2. I just found your site and this is one of the first things I read. This was so incredibly touching and you responded perfectly. Uniqueness is the reason this world is interesting and beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  3. This made me cry as I think of all the ways I feel I have also have failed as a mom and how I would do anything to protect my daughter from every pain and heartache she could possibly come across in this world. Katie is currently 17 and I struggle with the desire to shield her from anything painful each and every day. Thank you for the reminder that I need to balance that immediate reaction.

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  4. Wow! I, too, just found your blog and want you to be my new best friend! I first read your swimsuit picture story, then got to this one. You are SUCH a good mom!! Btw, I NEVER write in comment sections, but made an exception for you! Be blessed Bridgette~

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  5. I’m so glad to have found your blog! I’ve had this same conversation many times with my son. He. Is. Amazing. He truly is. He is unique, bright, funny, handsome and full of light. And he’s different than other kids. They know it and he knows it. We had a really rough road until around 6th grade (he is about to turn 14 now). It was like one day, seemingly overnight, he grew tired of being worried about what other kids thought. All those conversations paired with his own experiences seemed to finally register. He decided that he is AWESOME. It has been absolutely wonderful these past couple of years to watch him peel off the layers of the cocoon he’d been in and spread wings. I have a feeling that if you keep up the heartfelt, intuitive communication with your sweet girl, you will soon have the opportunity to watch that beautiful transformation.

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  6. You write what I FEEL… I don’t often have trouble articulating… but today I apparently do. I am always reflecting on my interactions with my children and wondering if I am doing a ‘good enough’ job raising them… but reading your blog (for the first time!) reaffirms for me that I am on the right track. Thank you for reminding me that other people give this much consideration to the way they parent.

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  7. Thank you for sharing this part. The story brought good tears to my eyes. This is my first time reading your blog (any blog actually) and I have enjoyed reading your stories. They touch my heart and making me think of happy thoughts about my own kids. It’s hard to just “listen” to our kids when all we want to do it protect them from all harm, but they have to learn how to make mistakes & grown from them. Thank you again for sharing.

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  8. My friend shared your swimsuit story. I cried immediately. I had to share it with a few other friends. I knew exactly what you saw and, like you, have been working at seeing myself as others do. Now I see this… a littlesgirl worried about being weird and a mom who constantly thinks she’s not gaod at the job.

    Well… it sounds to me that you are doing a great job! My kids are a bit older but I have always struggled with being a good mom. I never thought I was. But now when I see other kids the same age, I have to think I did something right. My kids are respectful, confident (mostly), well-behaved (that would be outside of the house), and well-liked.

    AND somehow this happened with them having a TOTALLY WEIRD MOM! Yup, I’m the weird one. A total goofball. There’s nothing wrong with it. But again, it took me a while to realize I was weird and then embrace & run with it. I hope your baby can realize how uniquely wonderful she is much sooner than I did. Why be like the rest of them? They don’t know what they’re missing!

    Keep up the good work! While I just found you, I think you are putting out there so many thoughts the rest of us have. We are all in it together.
    Thank you!

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  9. Love you blog so much, having two daughters to raise also one (12 1/2 yrs old) who prides herself as am “awkward” person. Funny as hell too!! Anyway I’m amused by her personality and also pleased to see her perform as she grows older. Thank you for your time!
    Tom White

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  10. I, too, have a “weird” 9-year-old boy. But in our house, being “weird” is a complement. It means that you march to your own drum. It means that you have the courage to be yourself no matter what anyone else thinks. It means you are creative and inventive and think outside the box. It means the you don’t blindly follow the crowd. I tell my boy that it is the “weird” kids who grow up and conquer the world. I hope that if anyone at school ever calls him “weird” to his face, he will smile and say “Thank you!” 🙂

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  11. Thank you! Brought me to tears. I’m 58, mother, wife and grandmother. Yes, I see all those things too! However my husband always tells me how pretty I am. I’m going to start wearing sleeveless tops, more bathing suits and enjoy being with my family !

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