When the ultrasound tech told Brad and I that we were having a girl, we were shocked. I can remember feeling almost let down by the fact that our first born child would be a female. It wasn't that I didn't want a girl... it was that I was terrified of having a girl. Immediately, I thought about teaching her to shave her legs, having to talk about menstrual cycles, and explaining how babies are born.
Then, I had this perfect little girl and everything was different. It was beautiful… and I still look at the world a little differently than I did before. I notice the pink and purple… the butterflies… and I am more girly in 100 different ways.
Back on point… when we found out we were having a girl, I envisioned a beautiful baby girl who acted like her dad. I have no idea why I always thought our girl would act like Brad. I just did. Maybe it was because I always acted like my dad, so I expected the same. In any case, I was not prepared to have a daughter so much like me.
On the one hand, I love how much Bailey is like me. She is fiery and fun. She has boundless amounts of energy. She has this incredible appreciation for everything in life. I sound really self-congratulatory here, don’t I? J Not trying to say that… just trying to say that she really enjoys her life. She is happy… like me.
On the other hand, she is her mother’s daughter. And, that means that she got the flaws that I hate about myself, too. Of course, I don’t hate them about her… just hate it FOR her.
The first grade has brought out an entirely new creature in my daughter. It has been a very emotional school year… and it is only November. I’ve had to sit back and watch as she has become the very epitome of me. She is insecure about this or that. She wants to be perfect. She is clumsy, but hates to mess up.
… during her second week of school, Bailey messed up on a project. She didn’t understand the instructions and she just did what she thought was right. She got sick at school. I didn’t have to go and get her, because fortunately her teacher caught on to what was happening. She was sick because she realized she had done her notecards all wrong and she was scared that she’d never get them right. Unfortunately, Bailey began to feel inferior. She came home telling me that she wasn’t smart enough for this class. She cried when she brought home a test that she had struggled with and was worried we would be mad. My heart sank as I heard her explain that she thought we’d be upset with her if she got a bad grade. Not much longer, she came home to tell me that she had stuck a pencil (eraser end) in her stomach to help her breathe when she was taking a test at school.
… at a Girl Scout Fairy Ball a few weeks ago, she fell down and cut her chin and bruised her hip. She just fell down the steps (a very familiar thing to her mother). Then, we tried roller skating with Girl Scouts a week or so later. Again, she fell. Again, she got back up. And fell. And got up. And fell again. On the way home that night, she cried in the car and told me that she can’t do anything right.
What’s a mom to do?
Reassure her. In each of these instances, I have sat with Bailey, nearly in tears at moments, and explained to her how perfect she is. I have told her that it is OK to make mistakes. We have talked about trying your hardest at everything and I have shown her that sometimes even when you do your best work, you still aren’t perfect.
Laugh with her. I have told her stories about my clumsiness. I have told her stories about me falling down and getting back up and feeling so frustrated with myself. We talked about how much she has grown and how fast she has grown there… and laughed about her feet being so disproportionately large, just like her mom’s, and that there’s an old adage about having bigger feet also meaning that you have a bigger brain. J
Tell white lies. I lied to her and told her that it gets better… knowing that she might never outgrow her clumsiness (I haven’t). She might outgrow it, but there are still those times when you will have to pull yourself back up, only to get knocked down again. She’s six… and I can’t break that to her just yet.
Love her. I have hugged her and kissed away her tears. I have told her that God looked the entire world over for two people to love her exactly how she is and He gave her to me and Brad because she is complete perfection, even in her mistakes, even in her clumsiness, even when she is striving so hard to be perfect and can’t.
I have done these things knowing that they will make a difference. I have said these things, praying with everything in me that she’ll hear my words and believe them.
Yet, I come to write this with a heavy heart, because I know that life is hard. She is going to get knocked down. She is going to make mistakes. She is going to feel less than perfect. She is, after all, my daughter. And, I know how she is going to respond and feel. And, that just breaks my heart.
This is truly only the beginning.
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