This weekend I was able to spend some one on one time with my daughter. It had been a very long time since it was just the two of us. Even though she slept two of the three hours on our drive to Austin, the first hour was really a good hour.
We discovered we both liked to Kill a Mockingbird, she had read it, “just because I figured I would have to in school, so why not?” We also have the same sense of sarcasm, which I knew I had passed on to her, but always felt a bit guilty about, until she said something that was rather funny and then I could see the benefit.
In exactly four weeks, at the start of summer, she will be done with middle school awkward and will start preparing for high school. And it feels, as a parent, so much more to me than watching her prepare to change schools. I know what high school brings. These years she will transition from the world of childhood and emerge as a young adult.
Geez, I hope I got some things right. I asked her what some of her memories of childhood were, and she had some good ones. She also had some not-so-good ones that were hard to hear, but I’m proud of her for dealing with them now, and putting some closure on it with me. It’s so much better than looking back as a twenty- or even thirty-something and having to unpack with an expensive therapist! Also, it is impossible for a mom to be at the top of her game every day. Right? I need some grace here.
Truth time, ladies: we strike out a lot as moms, and that is okay. In the end, I am hoping it is about the few home runs and not the strikes. We each have gifts to leave our children, even when we mess up. For me, I hope that no matter what my daughter learns these four things.
Love God, love yourself, show grace, and be brave. I think if I teach nothing else but those four things I have left a pretty good legacy. Okay, okay, besides the whole learn to cook for herself, keep a happy, clean home, be financially responsible, and not ruin her laundry. I am talking personality here.
The first one is just what it is. Simple and pure. Love God. He is why we are here and everything we have is because of His mercy. The second one love yourself — it is just as simple as loving God, but way harder. We tend to define ourselves by what we aren’t instead of what we are. Helping her appreciate her strengths and giving her the tools to improve and ultimately make peace with her weaknesses is what will get her success in whatever career she chooses. When you do not love yourself, loving life is impossible. Have grace — first with yourself and then with others. Grace is the understanding that failure is a beautiful if challenging part of life and we have to love ourselves through it no matter what. Grace is the understanding that not everything in this world is black and white. Grace is the grey. Grace makes the weaknesses easier to deal with because, just like moms, our girls can’t be at the top of our game all the time. As humans it is impossible. We make mistakes, even when we have the best of intentions. Others make mistakes, too. Even with the best of intentions. Sometimes however, we forget that others have the same “best intentions” as we do. Grace is forgiving yourself — and others. As the Lord’s Prayer commands, “Forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Tall order.
That leaves being brave — doing all the things that are scary. I don’t ever want to hear that my daughter has gone bungee jumping. Dear God, please let her never jump off a bridge with rope tied around her ankles. Amen. But I do want to hear about the times she rooted for the underdog, changed policies that were unfair, stood up for herself, voiced an unpopular opinion because she knew it was right, and didn’t jump off a bridge just because the others did.
The mom-and-daughter relationship is so delicate. It can be fierce and tight and then the next minute it can be lazy and loose. However, in the end, if we can show our girls all of the gifts that come with loving God, loving ourselves, having grace, and being brave, we are doing pretty good….heck — it’s even OK to throw in a little sarcasm for good measure. Makes those road trips a lot more fun.