“Go go go!”
This is the anthem she shouts as she squeals for joy, running around the table with curls bouncing. She dances in circles, flailing her arms above her head and singing at the top of her lungs. She refuses to give up until I drop what I am doing and read a book to her. She gently comforts her crying baby brother and eventually makes him laugh and squeal with her antics. I sit back in awe, wondering how such a beautiful little person could possibly be my daughter.
Don’t get me wrong- I am a role model to my little girl. She watches everything I do and repeats everything I say. She looks to me for guidance on how to treat our family members, our animals, and how to treat herself. Although I take this responsibility seriously, there are four areas where I wish I could be more like her:
I wish I fought for myself the way my daughter fights for what she wants.
This little girl is persistent. She does not back down. When she wants something, she is not afraid to let me know. I, on the other hand, struggle to ask for what I want. If someone owes me money, I worry about seeming mean so I do not ask for them to pay. If my husband asks me where he can take me on a date, I worry about being selfish and tell him to decide. When I took a new job, I worried about being rude and apologized for negotiating a higher salary. I am easy to take advantage of because I am worry about being “nice.” I am blessed to have a protective husband and an employer who refuse to let people walk all over me.
I admit, the fight in my daughter is not always the easiest thing to deal with as a parent, but I have to remember that this is an important quality for her to take into adulthood. My job is to teach her to compliment it with respect and consideration for others. As I teach her to respect authority, I must be careful not to suffocate her willingness to fight for what she wants.
I wish I had my daughter’s confidence.
As a person who struggled to think I was worth anything until my mid-twenties, I marvel at people like her. She dances and sings without worrying about who is watching and what they think. When other children are afraid to pick up a chicken, she grabs one and hands it to them saying, “Sssokay!” It has never occurred to her that she is not capable of something, and she approaches new experiences with complete assurance that she will conquer and succeed.
I have caught myself picking myself apart in the mirror. I think of all the reasons I will never measure up. Then I look at that gorgeous little face, always watching, always learning from me, and I think “how would I feel if she though this about herself?” I immediately shut the negative thoughts out and remind myself that I have no reason to look in the mirror with disappointment. If my daughter has immeasurable value no matter what anyone else thinks, so do I.
I want to be as gentle and kind as my daughter.
I do not think that this little girl has a mean bone in her body. Her 8 month old brother yanks her hair, hits her in the face with a wooden blocks, and takes toys she is playing with all of the time. The most she does is tell him in the sweetest, most tender voice, “no no no” with a smile. She usually stops what she is doing, finds a toy for him, and then continues with her game. One time his small hand became tangled in her hair and all she did was cry out, “Help! Please!” until I freed her. Then she cupped his face in her hands and gently kissed him on the forehead (melt my heart!).
I find my patience wearing thin and my frustration building as the day goes on. Lately I have remembered how she deals with her brother and said “no no no” with a smile as he reaches for the dog food for the twentieth time that day.
I want to find joy in simple things the way my daughter does.
I watched her hop from one brick to another for almost ten minutes, giggling as she went. She was absolutely delighted to find a dead dandelion, and brought it over to me so I could help her blow all of the seeds into the wind. She found a pine cone and spent five minutes exploring its texture and shape.
It does not take much to make my daughter happy. She is satisfied with running outside as the breeze flips her hair. She is content to sit in my lap and play itsy-bitsy spider for thirty minutes. I love watching joy overtake her when she sees a lightning bug or flower. I am perpetually asking, “What’s next?” She is teaching me to slow down, savor each moment, and notice my blessings.
Everyone told me that being a parent would change me, and they were right. I notice my shortcomings every day, but I also see my strengths as my children bloom. It is strange to admit that this little person could be a role model to me. As I try to model the correct behavior, I feel like I am benefiting more from this relationship than my children ever could.