My daughter has often complained that I coddled the boys but make her fend for herself. She is not wrong. I don’t know if its because she is a girl or she is my third kid and I learned a lot through the raising of her older brothers. I believe it is probably both.
It has been very important to me to nurture her confidence. I do not ever want her to believe she can’t do something or can’t figure out something. Recently, she ran into a curb and put a hole in her tire. She figured out how to use her AAA membership and called the tow truck, she called a friend for a ride, and she met them at the tire place where she asked that her tire be replaced and gave her number for the service center to call when they were finished. I was impressed. She took care of her business without asking me to do any of it for her. (Now, she did lose her airpods in the parking lot, so don’t think she has lost all of her youthful forgetfullness, but I could have very well done the same thing. We are an absent minded people, my family.)
From a very young age I started asking her to call her friends’ moms to schedule play dates. I didn’t want her to be afraid to speak to anyone on the phone or to ask for what she wanted. I was an extremely shy child and I didn’t want her to struggle with the fear that comes with social anxiety – at least not on as grand a scale as I did.
If her brothers or even her grown up father spoke to her disrespectfully I gave her permission and encouraged her to point it out to them and ask for them to treat her more kindly. I want her to always stand up for herself.
She started packing her own lunches and making her own snacks as she got older. I did not want her to feel dependent on me or anyone, I want her to know how to take care of herself.
I worked in the high school where she attended but I rarely took care of her business for her – I asked her to turn in forms or go visit the guidance office or find the website and figure out whatever needed to be figured out. She applied for college on her own. She has applied for housing and tons of scholarships without me having to look over her shoulder or prompt her to do any of it. She does not wait for anyone to figure it out for her – she finds the resources and does it herself.
Now, I know this is not all because of how I raised her. God gifted her with the can do attitude and willfulness to control her own life. And the boys got there – just not as quickly as she has. I know a good bit of the reason it took the boys longer to become independent is because I did too much for them. I mothered them to the point they didn’t have to take responsibility for many of the things in their lives that they could have taken over sooner if I had only given them more practice along the way.
I am so very proud of my girl. She has handled herself with grace and a confidence I am not sure I have ever known. I am going to miss her fiercely when she is living 9 hours from me but I am also so very excited to see what she does with this life of hers. Whatever it is, it will be on her terms. Thank goodness. Now, she may have to ask me to STOP visiting her all the time. Maybe I should have thought this through a little more – ha.