When I was pregnant in 2008 and told my close friends that I was having a girl, most, if not all, erupted in the “Hm! You will meet your match!” sentiment. I have no idea why. Indeed when Mam’zelle was born there was a different feeling that I got as opposed to when I had my son almost three years prior. My mind churned with all the things I needed her to know about life and living in the world as a girl/woman. I wish I could have just opened up her head and poured all the wisdom and knowledge inside so she could be prepared for what’s out there.
As she grew into her own person, she became very unlike myself in many ways. As a child I was mild-mannered, afraid to rock the boat or break the rules, played quietly with my dolls and could spend hours to a day in a book. She always had a retort, did not like to read, she moved about indignantly when she was upset, was impatient with schoolwork and deliberate when she did stuff to get in trouble. This was unnerving to me and especially infuriating to my mother as my younger sister and I were not like this (and of course naturally, my parenting skills came into question).
I have largely guided my daughter within her own convictions to ensure that even with her personality, she must get the value systems correct even if I have to drill it into her even more so than I had to do with my son. So with things like honesty, compassion and patience, there is greater need for the sitting and the talking. I have long accepted that although it is indeed more work, it is necessary work. I try my utmost not to compare but there are weak moments where as a parent I think the familiar ‘why can’t you behave like your brother/sister?!’ If you are a parent of children with different personalities and you tell me this thought has never crossed your mind, your pants are on fire.
More and more these days, I look at Mam’zelle and honestly, if I was worried that seeing our differences would lead to difficulties, recognizing some of our similarities is downright terrifying. She’s nine now and sometimes I see a lot of my childhood/adolescent insecurities in her. Physically my daughter is like me, a thick girl with thick legs and a large posterior which she’s very conscious of, especially as she does swimming and ballet. (In my youth, countless were the times I was told to ‘tuck in the butt!’ while I was at the barre). She doesn’t like not knowing something even if it’s something she should not know as yet. When she’s doing something she’s unsure of, there’s an anxiety that shadows her face, her palms sweat and her hands shake. She wants to know that everybody around her is happy with her and sometimes loses herself to make sure that this happens. All of these are familiar to me and there are times when I want to tell her DON’T DO THAT!/DON’T FEEL LIKE THAT! but I know deep down that each of us has to grow as we learn, including her.
A couple of years ago she got really sick and at a particular point I was helpless. It was the absolute lowest point of my existence and I desperately cried out to God that if He pulled her through, I would raise her to be a dynamic one and I would fiercely protect her with all my being until He was ready to call her home. I am more protective of her since then and I’m completely OK with that. I drag her everywhere and let her know about the sacredness of female relationships even in the face of male-female relationships. She knows when she can be vocal and is learning about when she has to dial it back a bit to silence according to the situation. I impress upon her that her existence is vital and her place in the world is secure and even if I am not there to guide her, she must be sensible enough to know how to position herself. Conventional wisdom dictates that you don’t help the butterfly out of the cocoon, the struggle is what makes it strong enough to fly right?
I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter and my mission is to make sure that I take her from a happy, carefree, strong girl to a spirited, compassionate young woman and thankfully, my girl is well on her way.