My daughter is without doubt, the biggest challenge of my life so far. I love her dearly – each and every part of her that makes her … well, … her. But boy oh boy is my intelligent, highly emotional, stroppy, strong-willed girl a challenge to every bit of patience that I have.
She was the dream baby, healthy from the outset, slept through the nights from eight weeks old, and met all her milestones, many ahead of time. Because it was just her and I from when she was only weeks old, she quickly became mummy’s best little friend.
She was so compliant … until she wasn’t.
I don’t know what changed, but about the time she turned four, my little lady found her will. Her VERY STRONG will. Four years later, we’re still trying to find that compliant heart I know is there. But I have to be honest, compliance isn’t the most important thing to me.
Love, respect, honesty, integrity, being a great friend, humility, reverence, generosity. These are important, in a child and in the amazing adult I know she will become.
This doesn’t win me a lot of fans. I’m probably the mum that you hear repeating herself over and over in the supermarket and just want to shake while you yell ‘woman your child is a brat’. I get that. But I don’t care what anyone else thinks anymore. Yes, I have learnt a LOT about tolerance too!
She does have a strong will, but I see an amazing will that can take her far. Stubborn yes, tenacious too. Quick to question yes, an open heart and mind to learn too. Emotional yes, a big heart too. Stroppy yes, hmmmm, not sure I can find an upside to that 😉
I know God has an amazing plan for her life and I don’t want to break her spirit. I know that if I focus only on behaviour of instant compliance, we’ll only be frustrated – I don’t want her to be a robot, she has so much more to offer than that. Besides I also know I’m never going to achieve that. Don’t get me wrong, she still has to respect authority and rules, we just have to go about things a slightly different way. I will let some things slide that you might not, but in the big picture, it’s small stuff on the Natalie scale.
So lately, seeing a few glimpses of the amazing heart I know is in there, makes me more joyful than the words I write can possibly convey.
Over the weekend I received an email from another parent thanking me for raising Natalie to be the good friend she is. HALLELUJAH! I’m not happy for the praise of my parenting (ok, truth, it feels good), I’m really happy that my gorgeous girl is being an amazing friend. Standing steadfastly on the side of her friend who is being bullied, instead of straying to the side of the bully who is relentlessly trying to break them apart.
My girl was bullied for a long time last year, that’s why she’s at the school she’s at now. We’ve spent many hours pondering friendships and talking about being a good friend. I’m so grateful that her bad experience has come to good in that she can help her friend now. Generally in her new school she’s chosen to surround herself with beautiful girls and when the going gets tough, she stands strong beside them. That’s the kind of friend I want her to be. I’m happy.
I’m also happy that yesterday she got angry at me. Because I wouldn’t stop the car and drive back around the intersection – for a third time. Hmmm, ok, I’ll back up. Yesterday there was a man cleaning car windows at the traffic lights. This isn’t a common occurrence where we live so my ever-inquisitive daughter needed to know why. When I saw his pack on the side of the road I explained there was a good chance the man didn’t have a job, maybe he didn’t even have a place to live, so he was trying to earn money. Well, she was ready to jump out of the car then and there and hand over my wallet! She made me drive around the block and back to hand him some money. I did turn around, I couldn’t quash that sort of thinking, but we didn’t catch a red light so I had to keep driving past a second time.
Boy oh boy did my little lady get stroppy and let me have it (verbally).
So we’re not all the way there. Well actually we’re not even part of the way there. But she’s showing that she’s hearing me, the love, the words, the lessons … they’re getting in. I know they’re going to pay off in the adult she becomes.
Isn’t that really what we all want as parents?