Fathers, be good to your daughters Daughters will love like you do Girls become lovers who turn into mothers So mothers, be good to your daughters too (John Mayer)
Dr. Phil, my TV BFF, says, "The most important person in a child's life is their same-sex parent." Whether you like Dr. Phil or hate him, you have to agree that's true. Mothers, or their female guardian, greatly influence their daughters.
I became very aware of this when my daughter was a toddler. She loved to sit and watch me put on my make-up. She would study every move I made and every object I touched. When I got up from my make-up dresser, she would sit down and put on her make-up, copying me move for move.
She loves going into my closet and taking out the highest pair of heels she can find. Then she would wear them around the house. Wobbling from room to room like she was walking on stilts. She would take down some glitzy dress I wore to a party, put it on and stand in front of the mirror. Sucking in her cheeks, shifting from hip to hip and practicing her super model poses. Practicing to be... me!
I am very conscious when I am getting dressed that she is watching everything from the length of my skirt to how much cleavage I am showing. She makes a mental note of it.
She is 12 now, going to junior high and has become very self-conscious of how she looks. At 12 girls are trying to fit in. I would never want to be 12 again.
All her friends dress alike. If one gets a pair of red shoes, then everyone in the group has to have red shoes. When I tell her "I think those shorts are too short." She'll respond with, "What about those shorts you wore in Florida. They were short." Once again pulling out her mental notebook and reminding me that she is watching everything I do.
I try to explain that when a woman is in another country, where no one knows her, she is allowed to wear short shorts and a bikini as long as she stays out of the focus of a camera lens.
When she was about five, I started having "Girls Night" when my husband took our son to cadets. As soon as they left we would begin our beauty treatments. I buy those $1 facial kits at the drugstore. I don't really care if they "Deep clean" or if they're "Anti-aging." I go for the cool colours like purple or red or the flavoured ones like chocolate or strawberry.
During our girls night we put our facials on, slice up some cucumber for our eyes and lay on my bed while talking about what is going on in her life. While waiting for our facials to work she has no trouble spilling all the secrets of her life. Who she likes. Who she doesn't. What she should do about it.
Then I give her a manicure and pedicure. Telling her every step of the way how pretty she is. We have a rule during our girls night. Every hour we have to look in the mirror and say one thing we like about ourselves. Like "I like my hair" or "I am good at math."
Our girls nights are not always spa nights. Sometimes we go to a restaurant and talk or play a game. The whole purpose of our "Girls night" is to create an open line of communication with her, build her self-esteem and remind her about how special she is, not only to me, but to the world.
As she gets older she wants to spend more time with her friends and less time with me. It's natural for that to happen, I keep telling myself.
She fits into my high-heels now perfectly. We're the same size but she still wobbles. I am sure in no time she'll have the art of walking in three inch heels perfected.
My Mother always warned me, "You don't own your children. You only have a loan of them. Eventually they grow up and leave you." That day seems to be coming toward me like a freight train. I can't even think about the day she starts packing up her stuff to move. I can't imagine when our "Girls night" stops.
She still won't go to sleep until I kiss her good night and when she sleeps, she looks like a toddler. Letting go is not going to be easy for me.
As a mother, it is our job to teach our kids how to be independent. Fly the nest. Survive on their own. Leave us. It seems like we spend the first few years of their lives wishing they would grow up and go away. Then as the day gets closer we wonder where the time went.
I have a few years of "Girls nights" left. She's only 12. She still has some growing to do. But I realize she will always see herself in me. The career she picks, how she lets a man treat her, the way she dresses, will all be influenced by me. That's why I've never been a "Do as I say, not what I do" kind of mom. I try to be the woman that I would like her to grow up to be. I pray she even does better than that.
I see my daughter as an extension of myself. The person who I'd like to be. The friend I can't wait to have. The overwhelming pride in my heart.
When she was about four, she gave me a Valentine's Day card. (I know my husband picked it out for her). I keep the card tucked into the mirror on my make-up dresser to remind me that I am being watched, even when she's not in the room.
The poem on the front says: I'm Mommy's "little shadow," going everywhere you go, Dressing up to look like you, because I love you so, Yes, I'm walking in your footsteps (or at least I'm trying to!) 'Cause I've got my heart set, Mommy, on being just like you!