I have two little girls.
This fact scares me to my core.
When I envisioned my life 15 years ago, I didn’t want any kids. Then, 10 years ago, I wanted 2 boys. Then about 4 years ago I got pregnant with my first girl. 2 years ago, my second girl.
As I reflect back, I realize it’s not that I didn’t want girls, but instead that I was afraid to have girls; Not because of the dreaded teenage years but for a much more personal reason.
I grew up in a (wonderful, beautiful, well-off) narcissistic home. Until recently, I didn’t have a label for it. I didn’t know what scared me about having girls, but now I do.
Growing up in a narcissistic home, I felt a lot of pressure. I was compared, judged, and sometimes unsupported. These things have created redeeming qualities in my life but also insecurities.
It wasn’t until highschool that I started to request for people to not attend my events. I ran track and I was terrible, but I loved it. I begged that no one come watch me. It was too much pressure. I was wired to think if you aren’t the best, it’s not worth doing it. Just trying and enjoying the activity didn’t make it worth while.
When I met my husband, he started to re-wire me. I started reading books, blogs and even started counseling to help change my thoughts and expectations.
These things all made me scared to have girls. With boys, they are so different than I am, I could have let them find their own way in life. I could support their adventures and mistakes. I could be their crying shoulder because I don’t know what it is like to be a boy. With girls, I feel the need to guide them based solely on my life experiences. I worry that I will pressure my girls into doing what I did, and how I did it. I believe I will hinder them from forging their own path. I want to “protect” them from making the mistakes that I’ve made and completely influence their life-decisions based on my ventures.
I have been scared to let them fail. But what I FAIL to realize is that mistakes and failures are part of life. I can tell “my story” to my girls and hope they gain insight, but some things they must experience for themselves. I cannot protect them from being cut from the soccer team, coming in last place, getting their first C… My job is to help them strive for THEIR best and support them when they are disappointed. My role is to help them re-group and create a “plan b” towards success not make the problem worse by adding my own level of disappointment.
This is scary and daunting for me. I work every day to be a supportive, yet disciplinarian-type, mom. I still put them in activities that I’ve done, but I have learned to not judge.
When S would leave dance last fall I’d tell her I was proud of her because she knew the dance so well. I have stopped that. My first words now are “did you have fun?!” Then, I try to follow it up with discussion about her behavior, “I’m proud that you were a good listener” or “what do you think we can do to stay out of trouble next week?” When we get home, I let her show off what she learned in class.
I have found that this breeds a happier environment for S. She has enjoyed her activities so much more now that I’ve stopped judging her abilities. That being said, I do judge her behavior. That IS my job; to make sure she’s respectful, kind and a good listener. But it’s that coaches/teachers job to make sure she’s learning and improving on her abilities.
I am not perfect at this. I slip up a lot. I’m lucky enough to have a husband who was never really judged at home on his performance so he keeps me in-check. If I say “S you look so strong out there, but we need to work on your backward rolls” he will chime in with “but did you have fun??!” And I remember that my criticism is not helpful, especially at the age of 3.
Having girls hits too close to home for me. I’m trying to let them have their own lives and not make them live out my dreams and live up to my potential. They need to live up to their OWN potential and I need to support their desires.
I will happily help them with their dance, gymnastics, soccer, or reading if they ask or if the coaches/teachers feel it’s necessary, but I’m done being the judge of my kids abilities. There is enough judgement in the world to keep my kids striving for perfection, they don’t need it from me.
This will be an on going battle for me, but I won’t give up. I hope my girls look back on their lives as stay-at-home moms, CEO’s, ballerinas, or Olympians and say “this is fun.” ❤