Having two daughters means that one-on-one time is pretty rare. Usually it happens when one of the girls is at a sleepover, birthday party, or play date with a friend. Much as I love having both my girls with me for mommy-daughter time, I admit that the rare moments of one-on-one are pretty special. I love having the opportunity to give one or the other of my girls some undivided attention.
Yesterday gave me the unexpected gift of just such a moment. I’d decided the day before that I was going to prepare a big family breakfast of home made waffles. It was a quiet Sunday morning — CBG was doing his thing in the living room, Rugrat was still sleeping and Kiddo and Lil’ Mo were off doing their own thing as I started gathering waffle ingredients.
I wasn’t in the kitchen long when Lil’ Mo wandered in. “Do you want some help, mommy?” A rare offer these days. “Of course, sweetie!”
And so…Lil’ Mo and I made waffles together, in a quiet, easy way. Chatting, joking, laughing — just the two of us — while the rest of the family were off doing their own things.
She’s a mystery to me sometimes – Lil’ Mo. Of my two girls, she is least like me, and I sometimes find myself struggling with understanding and being able to communicate with her in a way that makes it past her protective barrier. I often find myself second-guessing how I mother her, wondering if I’m doing right by her. She holds her cards close to her chest; those dark eyes of hers hold so much that she doesn’t communicate.
I see her as an amazingly bright, strong, kind and compassionate kid. In fact, I’m pretty sure that she is one of the finest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing — and I swear I’m not just saying that because she’s my daughter. But I also see that she struggles with self-doubt and self-esteem sometimes. I see her question herself or let the opinions of others affect her more than they should. I do my best to drive home the message that she is wonderful and perfect and loved tremendously just the way she is, but I worry that those words fall on deaf ears as she compares herself to others — her friends, her big sister, and focuses more on where she perceives herself as lacking instead of the many areas in which she excels.
I know that there are plenty of times that she either doesn’t hear me, or chooses not to hear me, when I repeat what a special and lovely person she is and how many people love her. And that leaves me with an aching heart.
And so the only thing that I can do is create opportunities that demonstrate to her what an awesome person she is. That she is intelligent, funny, compassionate, strong, and worthy of love, friendship and admiration. I can spend time with her. I can help her to find and use her voice. I can help her to continue to develop her strengths and improve upon her weaknesses.
She may not hear me when I tell her what an awesome kid she is, as most of the time it simply gets added to the noise that is part of her every day life. My hope is that when the words aren’t enough, she will feel it when we talk and joke and laugh together over a bowl of waffle batter on a Sunday morning, adding the feelings to her sense of self, when the words might fall short.
This parenting thing? Gets more and more complex as time goes on.