I have accepted the fact that I have many.... many.... irrational fears about raising my daughters. I still check on them at night to make sure they are breathing and I still cut their grapes into tiny pieces so that they don't choke on them.
Friends sometimes make fun of me but I take it. It is how I am. Being a person that experienced a lot of loss in my early life, the thought of anything happening to my kids is unbearable. And I bet I am not alone.
In fact, I would venture to guess that most parents have daily fears that they have to brush aside. I think it is the norm when raising something you love more than anything you have ever known in your life.
As the days pass, however, and my girls grow, new fears are infiltrating my mind. And these fears may not be so irrational.
I worry now - a lot - about my daughter's self esteem. I can honestly say that I am unsure on how to build it, maintain it and make it something that they lean on when life as a teen gets rough. Sure, I have read that loving them unconditionally, making sure they know that they can talk to you about anything at all and reassuring them that their instincts are right can help. But, being a woman with her own self esteem issue - I freely admit - I wonder if I have the tools to make them understand that it is more than just confidence. It is confidence in making the right decision.
And this is important to me. Because I think that girls and women that have a healthy self esteem tend to stay away from 'the wrong crowd' and other behaviors that can land them in a life they did not want.
I worry, too, about things that I may not be able to stop. Right now, my kids are pretty much in my care or the care of their teachers all the time. But the time is coming where they will have sleepovers and be gone with people I may trust, but may not really know, for extended periods of time.
They will date, go on weekend trips with friends and such, and make their own decisions about who to spend their time with. And I know that sex, teen pregnancy, drugs and alcohol will be discussions we will need to have. And truths I may have to face one day. Despite doing what I think I know how to do to stop it.
But my worries extend beyond that to criminal acts against them. Rape, date rape, abuse in a relationship - physical and emotional - being abducted and all of the horrid things that can happen to a person and a family keep me up at night already.
I don't know if it is because I have daughter's or because I am slightly crazy, but I feel like they have more than can happen to them than if I were raising sons. Of course, I don't have sons to compare my concerns to, but I can only imagine.
I just want them to be OK. I want them to be happy. Safe. Loved. Appreciated. And secure in who they are. And I have to resist locking them in a room and protecting them from every bad act, decision and consequence that they may face.
And I want it so badly that I think if I imagine the worst, it can never happen.
Which is ridiculous and insane in it's own right.
I guess all I can do is show them how I want them to be. Show them love, safety, happiness and appreciation. Drive home that I am always here no matter what the discussion. Guide them to lean on their sister's if they are having a hard time and can't talk to me yet. And pray. A lot. Every day.
Raising daughters is the greatest gift I could ever be given. I wanted girls and I am so humbled to have them. I cherish every day I have with them. Because the days are coming where I worry less about TV time and more about what is happening when they are not home.
And all I can do is raise them despite the fears. And pray and hope it is enough.
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