My daughter and I were curled up on the sofa together watching something Disney. When she turned to me and asked if we were disappointed in her. My jaw dropped, my brows furrowed. You could have knocked me over with a feather! So I guess it was a good thing I was sitting down.
You see she is getting ready to graduate from college. She is grown, yet we still snuggle and, yes, we still watch Disney (whenever she comes home). How could she think that? It seems she thought we would be disappointed because she did not go into pre-med as she thought she would. That was not OUR dream. Then in her sophomore year she fell in love with anthropology, indigenous peoples and their natural medicines. She is the embodiment of empathy, compassion, generativity and insatiable curiosity. She is tenacious about improving the well-being of all populations while respecting their cultures and traditions. How could we be disappointed?!! We are in awe of her.
After much thought it occurs to me that in all we say and do to show our children we love them, I may have left some things unsaid, assuming she knew. Thank you, editors and Forsyth Magazine, for giving me the opportunity to speak to my daughter, your daughters and all of us who are daughters.
I have told you life isn’t fair, that neat and tidy are inexpensive and about the importance of a good first impression. I know you were listening, because you are respectful and courteous, you sit straight, know how to hold your fork, you study hard and understand the value of money. You have good friends, because you are a good friend, and I know you will always wear clean underwear in the event you are ever in an accident. I could go on, but you know all this and more.
These are important as they help you to be comfortable in our world. What I left out is how to be comfortable within yourself. When you were small you wanted to be like me, later you wanted to be like your friends and even later you became expert at making others feel good about themselves, even at your expense.
All the while I watched you, comforted you and prayed that you would stay just as you are. I knew you were a marvel, the you only you could be. Still, darling daughter, there are things that need saying.
- YOU determine your worth and you shine all on your own. Your value is not dependent on others and can neither grow, nor diminish, because of another’s actions or opinions.
- Deserve more, because you do. We do not have to accept the love or life we ‘think’ we deserve. Think of those you cherish, now strive for the love and life you think they deserve.
- Set boundaries and be okay with protecting them. Allow yourself to expect and require those closest to you to treat you with the same respect and kindness you give to them. We teach others how to treat us.
- Be generous, but be selective. As long as you are willing to do things for others (that they should do for themselves), others are willing to let you. Say no and mean it if you want to.
- Waste not another second of your precious life comparing yourself to others. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, seen and unseen. This kind of worry serves no one. Compete only with yourself; this is a race you can win.
- Be courageous! Never allow anyone to define or limit you. Smile and nod and go try it anyway! What we think we cannot do, we must do! Be bold, be adventurous. Trust your judgment, your judgment is good.
- Be happy, be loved, be yourself.
Are you wondering if your parents are proud of you? Yes, every day, every minute, with every breath. Parents often tell anyone who’ll listen that ‘our kids are amazing,’ but tell you? We thought you knew. So here you are, dear daughters, you are a treasure and valued beyond measure, not because of what you “do,” you are precious because you are “you.”