This past Mother’s Day was one of introspection for me. I had a few hours to myself in the morning between the time my boyfriend left for work and my kids got dropped back off.
I thought about my strained relationship with my mom, and I thought a lot about my own experiences as a mother. I wondered if I was enough, if I was doing a good job….the things ALL of us moms think about.
We all want to do and be more….but the reality is, we are human (albeit sometimes superhuman) and we fail as much as we win in the mother-hood. I sat with these thoughts and came to the conclusion that I am doing ok. I think.
My kids are healthy, and I am doing all I can to raise humans with strength of character and hearts full of kindness. Can’t ask for too much more. Can I?
Then I started remembering conversations I’ve had recently regarding bringing up daughters in today’s society…..and how important it is to raise strong, brave girls. Being strong, brave, and independent was almost a form of survival for me as a child.
I had the most doting and devoted father, but he worked long hours to support us so I spent most of my time with my mom. While I appreciate her for the things she taught me, and she did instill a strong moral compass in me along with my fluency in Spanish….she also needed a lot of help from me when it came to her mental and emotional stability. Help that a child shouldn’t be asked to provide.
But I did. I didn’t know any better….it was my normal.
I think when a child is raised like I was, one of two things happens….either the child becomes like the parent, or she learns to form a tough exterior and battle her way out of dysfunction. For me, it wasn’t a decision I made consciously.
I didn’t say to myself that I needed to be strong. I just knew I wanted to be a different type of woman when I grew up. I wanted to be independent, and not have to rely on anyone for my happiness or my lifestyle.
I can remember back as far as Kindergarten when I created a notebook full of floor plans and sketches because I wanted to be an architect and make enough money to build my own house. I wish I still had the notebook…but I can recall its pictures clear as day. My house was to have an enormous garden with pool, and a playroom. The playroom had a window seat and a loft with a slide. Priorities.
I had this all figured out.
Did I end up an architect? Nope. I had many other careers I wanted to delve into between Kindergarten and my college years. I ended up modeling much to the chagrin of my mom….but despite the poor reputation that career often has, it only added fuel to my Strong Independent Woman fire.
I lived out of a suitcase and traveled all over the world without anyone to hold my hand while doing so. International models are called to accept work contracts and given sometimes no more than a week to pack up and go. I didn’t live with my parents at the time. I moved out when I went to college at age 18 and was on my own from that point on.
This meant that all of my bills, including college loans, would have to be paid by me while I was away, and I would have to run two homes while gone. So, before every trip, I organized and managed how that would be done. Then I’d pack, board a plane, and start my new adventure.
Once in whatever city I was destined for, I would find my way to my agency, get a map (pre GPS days, people!!) and a list of castings and off I would go. Didn’t matter if I knew the language. Didn’t matter if I had never been to that city before. It was up to me to figure everything out…and I loved that. It was so empowering.
Here I was, dropped off in a foreign land….and I would have to make my way. No apron strings, no hand holding. Just me. This was not what a girl that grew up like I had should’ve been able to do…..but there was no way in hell I was giving up my power and my independence when I had the world at my feet.
I was doing this on my own, without the help of anyone….it was the world or bust. And I did it.
The sense of pride and accomplishment I had every time I got on a flight was equal only to my excitement for the adventures that may lay ahead. This lifestyle made it impossible for me to lean on anyone. It took me from already being self-sufficient to becoming doubly so.
I never started off wanting to be a model. It happened by accident, but I think the Universe intended that to be a happy accident….in order to help me become the woman I always knew I wanted to be.
Now that I have a daughter of my own, I look at her and hope she too grows up with this fierce desire to be strong and independent…and I think she will. I am her example.
When her dad and I split up, I found myself forced out of the comfort zone of marriage into which I had at that point fallen. I had been a stay-at-home mom for a while and this new life that I was about to start required me to once again do everything on my own. I had to reinvent myself. I had to make a real income again. I had to deal with every obstacle that arose sans help.
Huge spider on the ceiling? I had to slay that dragon. Car trouble? I had to take it in and get things fixed. Things that went bump in the night? I had to grab the flashlight and make sure my home was safe. Kids need anything? I had to be mom and dad. I could’ve run back to him when things got tough, and I felt like I was drowning….but I didn’t. I haven’t. I forged ahead.
No damsel in distress here. Just a girl with some pretty heavy-duty bootstraps.
My daughter has watched me struggle, but she’s also watched me warrior through it. She’s watched me come undone, but she’s also seen me put my pieces back together on my own. She has witnessed me work hard and get things done without a man. She knows it can be done now.
She knows she can be happy with or without a relationship. She is learning that she doesn’t need to be walked through life by anyone when she grows up. She does not need a man to validate who she is. She can validate herself.
She’s learning she has the power to be whatever she wants to be and that she can earn her stripes on her own. I am teaching her to find her inner strength and to be turned off by entitlement and coddling.
She is tenacious.
And I am proud.
She is intelligent, empathetic, and beautiful inside and out. Warrior princess. She is the type of girl that will become a woman who knows how to see a relationship as a partnership not a state of dependency. She will not rely on a man to make her happy. I know that.
She will work for and find her own happiness. She will have character and integrity. She will be an amazing and strong woman….because strong girls grow up.
….and if that’s all I truly ever accomplish in life…then someday I’ll die feeling completely fulfilled.
“She is clothed in strength and dignity, and laughs without fear of the future.” -Proverbs 31:25
“She is a badass with a good heart, soft but strong. Unapologetic and honest. She’s the type of woman you go to war beside — not against.” –R.H. Sin
For more stories like this visit my blog at https://adulthoodrewired.com