A woman I know awaited the arrival of her daughter on the wings of cotton candy dreams. Being the only female in the household was soon coming to an end! Her husband could hardly wait, yet their three sons were unsure of how they felt about it, how a little girl in the pack would change things. Were they ready to be big brothers and just exactly what did that mean?
This woman recalls the thrill she felt having the nursery painted pink. She hung pink blinds and valances in the windows and pink dresses in the closet. Pink, pink, pink! It was all about the femininity this child would lend to her mother’s life. She looked forward to the days when she and “Felicity” or “Tiffany” or whoever she was, would go shopping for pink little panties with lacey back sides and anklets trimmed in eyelet. She could hardly wait to buy her delicate daughter a rosy cheeked baby doll.
As it turned out, pink just wasn’t in the picture for her little girl and the boys didn’t need to adjust at all. This beautiful baby girl grew up to be a robust tom-boy. She could out bat, out run, and out score her brothers at anything she set her mind to. She grew to six feet tall with thighs the size of tree trunks and shoulders that could carry the burdens of the world. She hated dolls but loved trucks and sports. As soon as she could talk, she asked to have her bedroom painted anything but pink.
My friend has had twenty four years of child-raising confusion. She loves her daughter deeply yet can’t quite grasp the conundrum of having a daughter without anything feminine attached. Why didn’t God just give her another boy? Yet, if ever the need arise, she defends her child with all she has.
As a teenager, this girl was an unusual joy, never being moody or difficult as other teenagers tend to be. She learned to drive without ever getting a ticket or having an accident, she has been an exemplary student and went to college on academic scholarships, and has been nothing less than pure joy to her parents.
Her mother has had to over look the lack of ruffles and frills, to look beyond the absence of Barbie dolls and ballet lessons and ribbon tied pony tails; beyond her desire to see her daughter twirl around in a full skirt wearing patent leather shoes.
I believe she loves her more because of it, more because everything about this child has been an unexpected surprise. She has a grown daughter who is strong and courageous, daring to be herself, daring to feel confident and self assured exactly as she is even if she is far from conventional. And you never know, she just might surprise her mother one day and have a daughter of her own. And she might be a petite girly girl who will bond with her grandmother in a way she would not be able to with her tom-boy mother. She just might make a real difference in the world…and because of all of that she is loved and cherished in the unique way we love and cherish our daughters.
My friend believes there are reasons for everything and a day will come when it will be revealed to her. It will be an “ah-ha” moment. In the mean time, she will trust God with the direction of her daughter’s life and know that she is a purposeful sunflower standing tall and bold among delicate petals of pansies and roses. She trusts that great things are awaiting her daughter.
When I look back on my childhood I wonder…was I all my mother wanted me to be? Was I a conundrum to her? She was less than thrilled with the way I wore my hair in high school; long and curly, flying wildly everywhere like one of those “Hippie” girls. My embroidered bell-bottom jeans and smocked tops were anything but the “preppie” look I’m sure she would have preferred.
How many of us mothers thought we knew our daughters even before they were born, only to be surprised again and again by how different they are from, not only us, but from the idea we had of them? One of the toughest things about raising daughters is realizing and accepting they simply are not going to be just like us or anyone else. They will be themselves.
I look back on the years of raising my girls and am amazed by the women they became. It wasn’t easy. They weren’t always agreeable or cooperative nor did we like each other all the time. Yet I wouldn’t have them any other way. Without having dealt with all the “stuff” I’d rather have avoided, they wouldn’t be the people they are now. Sometimes it’s necessary to wade through the muck for a long while, shoving piles of debris out of the way just to end up in a good safe place.
I believe as long as we don’t give up, as long as we pay attention and tenaciously forge ahead it will all work out not only in due time, but the way it was meant to. Somehow, despite me, my daughters have managed to grown into themselves; strong in their convictions, confident in their uniqueness, and open to life, love, and adventure. And as different as we are, we love each other all the more.