My womb was the hidden place where my daughter shared my body, my cells and my hormones — for nine whole months. But more than that … it was also her gateway into this world.
I remember those sweet words, “It’s a girl!!”, because they will forever be etched into my mind as a beloved memory. From her very first breath, my little daughter embarked on her gradual journey away and separate from me.
Oh, it begins very gradually this separation–first a breath is taken, soon they feed themselves, eventually they’re crossing the street, until suddenly they’re asking for the car keys. Shockingly, we hand them over only to watch our precious daughters drive away…away from us!
What does it look like Moms, to notice our young girls growing into young women? What vulnerabilities does this raise in us?
For me, one vulnerability was nurturing her opinions, her voice. This was especially vulnerable when that voice was so very different from my own!
In this particular story, my daughter was interested in decorating our house. She did not get this interest from me, my friends will tell you, I am not a decorator. My daughter wanted to paint my nice, beige, conservative, boring, predictable living room walls …. bright RED.
All I knew was the comfy place of beige walls. Everything practical in my brain said, “Red? Red! I don’t have furniture to go with a red room?! All I have is furniture that fits with the nice, dull beige walls!”
How do we make space for our young daughters to be their own person? Test and exercise their opinions? Explore their own creativities and interests?
Well, my daughter and I went to the paint store. We gathered samples and I listened to her, even though I could not begin to visualize possessing a living room with sassy, dark red walls. I was clearly out of my comfort zone.
She had pure creative style bubbling up and out of her. Much like years ago when my belly grew with her new life within me, she was now, again stretching and pushing against me, reminding me that soon, someday very soon, she would no longer be in this cocoon called home. And as I began listening more closely, I realized she had something to teach me. I heard more than her opinion about color; she also needed to explore what was growing in her, who she was becoming.
Then, I began to see red-colored walls everywhere–magazines, offices, friend’s homes–and suddenly my eyes were opened beyond what I could envision in the realm of decorating. Believe me, she has more decorating style than I will probably ever have.
Mothers and daughters share a unique DNA, our bodies share physiological similarities, but we are not the same.
Now hear me: my job as a mother is not to remake my daughter into a little “me”. No, no it’s not. Rather my work as a mother is to notice who my daughter is and nurture the life that she is discovering…as she goes along. Teenage girls are in a season of separation from their mothers in significant ways, important ways that are about them choosing to risk finding their own identity and passions.
To my fellow Moms, what does it look like to nurture your daughter’s unique opinions and style? To notice her language? And what does it look like to provide enough space that she can stretch and grow into being a woman with her own unique design?
Can we treasure these changes that separate one we love from us?
What if we are once again stretched by our daughters’ growth…and we daily choose not to grasp and hang onto them?
I believe we must work to honor the fact that our teenage daughters have something to teach us that we desperately need to remember—change is risky.
And sometimes you just do it. You paint a room red in order to let the color remind you every single day that being stretched can bring forth great life.
I painted my living room red, how has your teenage daughter stretched and grown you in ways you could never have imaged? What’s your “red room”? Oh do please share!