I spent the weekend at my dad's with my daughter and my dogs. Part of the pull to Florida, for me, was to be able to check in on my dad...cook for him...just be close enough to be able to do exactly what I did this weekend. Besides the incredible sadness I felt at missing my mother's presence in the home they used to share, I learned a lot this weekend about my daughter, my childhood, and my parenting style.
I grew up in the age where sensitivity was frowned upon and being told to "toughen up" was common place. I was determined not to do that with my own children. I wanted them to be allowed to be who they are. My childhood was also full of...ummm how do I put this nicely....sterotypes about different cultures and people. My dad is still the same, and I love and accept him that way. However, I realize that I am not that person. The things that were so common place growing up feel like a smack in the face now. Especially when they're said in front of my children. My boys have developed their own opinions about people and cultures, but my daughter is still the open book I raised her to be. She's loving and accepting of everyone and everything...unless they cross her or her family. Then they are dead to her lol (like mother like daughter). My daughter's first sleepover in Florida was surrounded by a blended family including transgender people. She didn't blink. I am proud of that, that I raised her to accept people even if she doesn't necessarily agree with their choices. And she has DEFINITE opinions on these matters. She's such a strong little ....sorry young woman. She is what I wish I was at her age! Hell, I'd like some of her qualities now!
Yesterday she woke up and was all groggy and disheveled...she's a cracker jack in the morning. I hugged and kissed her and then she went to kiss her grandfather. He laughed and said "you look like the wreck of the hesperus". I froze....she didn't react. She has no clue what he meant most likely and she probably didn't even hear him. I felt like I was smacked. I spoke to my sister later in the day and I told her about it. I said "I remember that being said to me ALL the time ...if my outfit wasn't to my parent's liking....if my hair was a mess...the list goes on. I don't remember it bothering me, but now? OMG I would never say that to my kids. Those tiny little negative criticisms were part of my every day life....is that why my self esteem is less than stellar? There were a lot of other ones that went on this weekend alone and I was transported back to being my daughter's age and remembering that I felt hurt by them. Luckily she just let it roll off her back, but had I said it to her, or her brothers? She would have been crushed! My boys are the same. Their father is very much like my parents (and his parents and probably that entire generation) and I spent SO many moments shooting him a look of death when he would say something like that to the kids. He would catch it and try to fix it, but a lot of the times it was too late. My daughter hasn't spent enough time around him to be affected....again, maybe why she has the self esteem and confidence that she does. I couldn't be happier about those qualities!
Eyebrows are all the rage these days....just like big butts...2 things I had when I was a teenager, unfortunately back then thin eyebrows and no butts were in....story of my life a day late and a dollar short ;) Anyway, my daughter "did" my eyebrows yesterday. She researched You tube and took her time tweezing them and shaping them....then penciling them in (getting older sucks, and all those years of waxing them didn't help lol) and she was SO proud of herself. Her eyebrows apparently are a big hit at school (she thanked me for her genes ) and she took a picture of mine to send her friend. She told her brothers and anyone who would listen that she did my brows. I fought back the tears while she did them. I remembered when I was my daughter's age and I had the eyebrows that she has now....only they weren't the rage. I felt ugly. I asked my mom to teach me how to tweeze them and she told me I was too young. Sooooo....(oy vey) I decided to do it myself. I plucked the top instead of the bottom and then (because it was so painful) I decided to take the shortcut and shave them! DEAR LORD! I wound up with groucho marx's mustache on top of my eye! I was in 7th grade and the thought of going to school like that was just too much, but worse was having to face my mom and admit that I went behind her back and took matters into my own hands. I remember when I wanted to shave my legs the same issue happened and I came home from school in tears quite a few times before my sister finally convinced my mom to let me shave them. (My daughter was 5 when I started doing her legs for her.....she felt uncomfortable in her dance tights so...Nair to the rescue!). The point of all this is that my mom never realized that she could have made my life so much easier by just understanding my feelings and embracing my sensitivity. Instead she just did what she was raised with I suppose. I don't know. Maybe it was my dad in her ear, quite possibly. But whatever the reason it deeply affected me.
The whole episode just made me realize how much the times have changed. I often wonder what that generation would have done with the knowledge we have now? All the feel good stuff, the let's do better than our parents did etc. Back then nobody thought about the future, they just did as they were taught or what they thought was right in the moment. And admitting they were wrong? Heavens no! Never! Apologizing to a child? Are you crazy? Yet, my mom often watched me with my kids with tears in her eyes and told me what a phenomenal mom I was and that makes me think that she would have done things differently if she knew she could have.
With that being said, I've made my fair share of mistakes. I've apologized for them and tried my best to make up for them, but someday I'm sure my kids will be telling a story similar to this one about some way I hurt them or affected them in a not so positive way....and they will do their best to do better with their own children. Because after all....it's just a day in the life!~