A MOTHER’S DAY REMINDER: TOGETHER WE ARE SOLID
I have two incredible children: my firstborn daughter and her younger brother. Every day, my son makes me question my parenting techniques. But it is every Mother’s Day that I am reminded of my daughter – the one who pushed me to learn how to be whole again.
The day she was born I saw her like I had never seen anything before, with frightening clarity. She was quiet and intense, with gray-blue eyes and dark hair. I was in awe. This baby who grew within me now was at my side, and I saw her and nothing else.
Her fragility made me question my strength. Suddenly, 25 was too young an age to have a child. I wasn’t old enough or mature enough; I was weak and full of doubt. Who was I to be trusted with this baby who stared at me with her gray-blue eyes?
I would lay her down on the floor, putting my head next to her, and weep tears of appreciation. I knew I had created something wonderful but could not comprehend it. My body nurtured and delivered her – this body that I blasted and had deemed unworthy gave birth to this intense baby. She, the female who would turn to me.
So I buried thoughts of being broken, just shoved them down and did not talk about them. Still, they hovered in the shadows of my mind.
The first few years pass, and my daughter begins school. Her eyes have taken on the warm brown of her father’s. She is nothing like me. She has carved her way with attitude and grit. She does not listen to “no.” She is smart, cunning, savvy. I did not give these to her. (God knew I would not be able to, so He put them in her Himself. I am convinced of it.)
I need do nothing to help her succeed. She does not need my comfort; she does not tolerate dresses or bows. She will not brush her hair. I let it go. I am relieved. God simplified her needs. Except for one: Perfection. She needs perfection.
I talk with her. She has grit. I have grace. We go on.
Fast-forward again, to my daughter’s third-grade year. The quest for perfection won’t go away. I wake up one night in a cold sweat. In another two years, she will be in fifth grade.
Fifth grade. That was when “broken” started for me. I stare into the dark. The clock is ticking too fast.
How do you make someone believe they are imperfectly perfect in less than two years’ time? How, when you don’t believe it to be part of your truth? When I try so hard to bury my broken so she won’t see, how do I make her unbreakable?
The question is real for me … as it is, I suspect, for many of us. To make her unbreakable, I – her mother, her role model – must fix what is broken within me. I let these feelings of unworthiness and self-doubt rise and flow out of me for three years, with my daughter as a witness to my imperfections. It takes all of my grace, and all of her grit. I make her grit my own.
Fast-forward again, to present-day. I look at my daughter, now in high school. She is my perfectly imperfect girl, but my grace has somehow softened that which made her so hard on herself. The balancing act of grace and grit mold us. We each retain our imperfections – real and imagined – but together we are solid. Mother and daughter.
As I look around at other women, mothers who are struggling to raise daughters with grace and grit, I do not think I am alone in this journey. We all are searching for guidance, for a solid lifeline that will pull us through. And it hits me – an idea gifted to me on a snowy day – that none of us have to look far. So many came before us, and their legacy shows us a way.
Take our Grace & Grit women from history, for example. Wilma Rudolph overcame pneumonia and polio to become an Olympic runner, medaling several times over. Amelia Earheart listened to her inner voice and forged her own path, achieving her dream of becoming an aviator in a male-dominated field. And Dr. Marie Curie risked great personal danger to pursue higher education – which led to her discovering the elements radium and polonium, developing X-ray technology and pioneering the use of radiology as a way to treat cancer.
Their spirits surround us, these women who offer something solid for us to carry forward into our own lives. I can reach out and touch them. Women from history who broke, but healed strong. Women who, through grace and immeasurable grit, learned to overcome challenges and change the course of history. Their spirits remain with us, willing us to use their legacy to make our daughters stronger.
I can help. I retell their stories, gifting them to other moms and daughters as they were gifted to me.
Mothers, teammates … we do hard work. We carry their hearts – both immeasurably strong and unimaginably breakable at the same time. But we need not fear the latter if we work together, if we use the grace and grit that women who came before us left behind.
My daughter no longer has just me to rely on, but a legacy of women who know and understand – women who worked hard and conquered incredible adversity and self-doubt to achieve their dreams. It is no longer just mom – me, Heather – fighting her preconceived notions of perfection, it is Wilma, Amelia, Marie and many others. We band together to make her strong.
Your daughter and my daughter; you and me. Moms together.
I admire your spirit and salute both the “broken” and “solid” making you who you are – and, most of all, I appreciate your love for your children. May you always have the grace and grit you need. Happy Mother’s Day.