I Hoped My Daughter Would Be a Mini Me; She Had Other Plans
When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of one day having a daughter of my own.
She would be taller, more talented and more outgoing than I was, but for all intents and purposes, she would be me made over. She would think like me, feel like me, get me. We would understand one another and be built-in, lifelong best friends.
When my daughter was born, I held on to that enduring dream. My child and I would never have those horrible rifts or fallings-out that so many other mothers and daughters seemed to have. I mean, I was young, witty, compassionate and had a terrific sense of humor. How could my own daughter not find me relatable and approachable? Even as a teenager, how could we not always see eye-to-eye?
My perfect parenting plan had one major flaw: I failed to realize that my daughter was not me.
She was not born when or where I was born to the same parents with the same sibling in the same era, house or state. She had her own DNA, her own life experiences and her own thought processes. She was her own, unique, individual person.
From day one, she seemed to sense that I was looking for a mini-me, and from day one, she seemed intent on liberating herself from my mold.
When she was three years old and heading to her first day of preschool, she was highly excited to be on her own. As I parked the car outside of the school, she apparently assumed she would be doing it all without me.
“You’re not going in with me, are you Mommy?” she asked.
On her first day of kindergarten, I dressed her in my idea of the perfect first day outfit. She wore a plaid, pleated skirt and button-up blouse with frilly socks and her hair held neatly by two matching barrettes. I got an adorable shot of her standing by the front door holding her bag.
Then she announced that the ensemble was far too itchy and that she would be miserable the entire day. We have a second photo of her standing outside of the school wearing a romper-style baseball outfit, complete with a matching hat covering her blonde curls.
When she was about 10, she attempted to go to school in an outfit not fit for any situation. She put on a pair of old jeans that were starting to get snug and a shirt she had worn two grades earlier, which meant it fit her like a tight crop top. To complete this fetching look, she placed a ring with a huge, blue plastic stone from a gumball machine into her bellybutton and proceeded to head toward the front door. That morning did not go well.
Although I tried my best to expose her to songs that I felt were meaningful, written by true songwriters and performed by genuine artists, she was having none of it. She went through the Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera stage, whom I wished I had never talked down when she moved on to System of a Down and Rage Against the Machine.
She tried to color her hair blue once using Kool-Aid (I say, “try” because the tint turned her light blonde hair chlorinated green). Later she went red and eventually black. We could not be more opposite in most ways.
However, not all was lost. As I had always wished, she was several inches taller than I was. I could only dream of painting, drawing, working with clay, writing deep poetry, and working on computers the way that she could. And she was never afraid to speak her mind or “make waves” the way that I always have been.
Even more important is that we truly are close. We have long talks, hang out together for fun, and hold foot massage swaps (you know, you rub my feet while I rub yours?) at least once a week. We watch our favorite shows together. Friends, Freaks and Geeks, and Gilmore Girls are some of our shared guilty pleasures, as are pints of Ben and Jerry’s and riding around in the car with nowhere to go.
Sometimes, we do think alike and share the same feelings about experiences, but she often opens me up to new perspectives and even helps me to define my own points of view. And even when we don’t agree, we always “get” each other.
She is not me made over, and I could not be more delighted. My limited imagination could never have concocted a person like her. She is as strong as she is soft; as fierce as she is loyal; and as resilient as she is compassionate. She is not a built-in best friend, but she is something even better. She is my daughter, and nothing in this world can ever come between us.
Do your kids share a lot of your traits… or are you complete opposites?
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