- For the first time in my life, I was finally empathetic with my mother. Her choices for me that had seemed cruel and unfair during my teens finally made sense. Everything I felt when I looked at my daughters — two more followed — she must have felt for me.
- More than anyone else, we can give our daughters a clean break from the past, because all of us have a fair share of baggage that our daughters can do without.
- Out in the world, there will be too many naysayers, too many trying to bring her down, too many trying to diminish her worth.
In this part of the world, where the birth of a son seem to be preferred to that of a daughter, allow me put in one for the mothers of daughters — especially because it is International Women’s Day.
My mother and I had a complicated relationship. Until I had a daughter of my own. In the instant when my little girl was laid in my arms, I begun to finally understand my mother.
Her love, fears, insecurities, aspirations, because they were now mine, and they were brought to the fore by my 3.7kg bundle of joy. “What if I wasn’t a good mother?” I wondered desperately and looking around the hospital room, I sought my mother’s approval. I wanted her to tell me that I would be alright, that my child would be alright, that everything would be alright.
She seemed to understand, perhaps because she too had once been the mother of a daughter, and she moved close to me, her presence instantly reassuring.
BREAK WITH THE PAST
For the first time in my life, I was finally empathetic with my mother. Her choices for me that had seemed cruel and unfair during my teens finally made sense. Everything I felt when I looked at my daughters — two more followed — she must have felt for me.
Girls are sugar and spice, everything nice and oh so vulnerable. You understand instinctively that you must protect them from seen and unseen dangers that lie near and far. For the first time, you feel a murderous rage towards anything that threatens their security. And so you should.
My daughters have changed my worldview. When I see a young woman being mistreated by a tout, I immediately think of my own daughters suffering similar mistreatment.
When I read of the rape and murder of a little girl, I say a prayer for her grieving mother. When I come across a scantily dressed girl in the mall, I have half a mind to ask her, “Does your mama know you came out looking like that?!”
More than anyone else, we can give our daughters a clean break from the past, because all of us have a fair share of baggage that our daughters can do without.
We can let them know that we may not have completed our schooling or been to university but they CAN. We can insist that they are not condemned to repeat our mistakes or failures. If we failed, surely it was so that they will not have to.
At least not in the exact same way. And so there comes a time for us as mothers of daughters to say: Just because we may have been involved in prostitution, or undergone female circumcision, or been in an abusive relationship, it ends with me.
Then we must do everything we know how to break the cycle and free our daughters.
The second thing we can give our daughters is a date with destiny.
Place opportunities on her path, connect her to people who can help her dreams and give her a love for books so she can expand her mind.
Hold her to a high standard, and though she may rebel against it at first, hopefully, she will eventually want to meet it.
Out in the world, there will be too many naysayers, too many trying to bring her down, too many trying to diminish her worth.
Her mother can not be one of them. The third thing we can do for our daughters is to give them an example, to show them they matter because we know that we matter especially as we aim to make daily choices that reinforce this belief in our health, finances, careers or relationships.
They need to see us working on ourselves, embracing our strengths, learning from our failures, becoming more empowered and less judgemental.
It may be hard, but let them see us standing up for our ideas, giving ourselves a pat on the back or a much needed break.
Being the mother to a daughter is easy because you sort of know what to expect.
After all, you once were a girl too. And for these reasons and others, your daughter needs you to woman up, show up for her and help her get where she needs to go.