The other day, I was wrapping up a workshop and one of the mother’s shared her story with me. As we offered each other support in the challenges that come from raising children, the sentiments that so many of us feel whispered out of this mom’s mouth, “I didn’t realize it would be this hard.”
There is no way we could have known, right?
I thought it might be helpful to share some of the light I’ve experienced at the other end of the tunnel because I promise, some days will feel like winning. You will feel days of winning when you lead with love, when you just keep trying, when you aren’t afraid to fail with one idea and try another, and most importantly, when you surround yourself with a supportive community that you can lean on for new ideas and direction. You will see your daughter experience more and more moments where she stands in her own power.
I have an eleven year old daughter that has been picked on, in varying degrees, for the majority of her elementary years. She is now in grade six and we find ourselves having the most challenging year yet. I’d like to think it it will be the most challenging ever, but I’m getting prepared if that’s not the case.
She would come home with a story of how she felt different or ostracized by the girls in her class.
Each day, my daughter comes home with a story of how the girls in her class made her feel different, ostracized or intimidated. It breaks my heart to watch a girl that was once known as “Smiley” wilt to a withdrawn and sad pre-teen. But I won’t just stand by and watch so each day we talk about what happened, we brainstorm why the girls are doing what they are doing and we create very clear lines between who she is and who she is not. She is learning that she is not the labels they call her and their fear and insecurities have nothing to do with her. We talk about where her tribe is and where she feels safe. As we hang out over the island in the kitchen, we brainstorm new ideas on how she can respond that might stop her from being the target of girl aggression. Each day, it seems, we reconsider the battle strategy.
As a mama bear, every part of my being wants to take matters in to my own hands
As a mama bear, every part of my being wants to take matters in to my own hands, but I know that I should not because what my daughter needs to know is that she is powerful and she is strong. She has me right behind her, but she leads with her own strength. Each morning I do my best to send her off to the day with positive intentions and reminders of her power and each evening I await the arrival of my warrior to see how she fared today’s battle.
Until we come to a world where love wins over fear, there will always be people who need to push others down
Until we come to a world where love wins over fear, there will always be people who need to push others down so they can feel what it’s like to stand tall;but that fear will not conquer the love that comes when we create a community around our daughters.
And on some days, love wins. When my daughter walks in the door and I see her face lit up with pride, my heart fills. She feels her power today. It’s the same day when she was called flat-chested, when girls were punching each other in the chest and someone threw a snowball at her face and called her the R-word, she comes home filled with pride. Why? Because she sunk 6 baskets with her team and nailed her trumpet practice and she chose that those would be the events that she carried with her.
On some days, love wins
Love won that day. Because she is learning to separate her self-worth from the fear and pain in the girls that use her as a way to feel tall and powerful. Instead, she lets herself feel powerful as she remembers the boy from her class cheering her on as she sunk another basket and the recognition she got from her music teacher for her achievements in music.
No one told me it would be this hard. No one told me that I would have to hold myself back from the primal instinct that a mother feels when their child is hurt. No one told me how much energy it takes to keep building your child up as people try to tear her down. No one told me how hard it would be to watch your daughter’s personality shift from an open, trusting friend to a person that uses curt words and defensive remarks to protect herself from being hurt. No one told me how much work it takes to peel those layers off so that my daughter doesn’t lead life with fear, hesitant to spread love and connect with people.
No one told me it would be this hard. But what I know is that this mama is a warrior with an army of community by my side. Together we can help these girls find their own power and show them they don’t need to try and take it from someone else.
Stronger and stronger she feels it until one day no one will be able to take it away.
So don’t fear fellow mama warrior. You’ve got what it takes and you don’t have to do it alone. You aren’t the only one fighting this battle and you aren’t the only one that finds some days hard. I’m not afraid to show my hand and let you know that there are days that don’t feel like winning. But I am starting to see what is taking shape after many, many hard days. As I prepare for the next challenge I see it – a little warrior growing in to her own power and becoming less afraid to shine with love. Stronger and stronger she feels it until one day no one will be able to take it away.
So while my first role is to welcome home my warrior each day and tend to any battle wounds while keeping her heart from turning hard, as the mother of three daughters, I needed to do something more. My daughters and the girls they are growing up with are my own inspiration for the mother-daughter workshops and my involvement in the Girls Changing the World Movement. These girls are amazing human beings navigating their own fears and unintentionally hurting each other as they do it. I’m inspired at the thought of what could happen if we could show them their power.
I’m so excited to partner with Journey Henkart for this initiative. Together, we are working to grow a community of girls that recognize their own power and can let their light shine.
If you are interested in a Girls Changing the World workshop in your school or in your community, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.GirlsChangingtheWorld.com to find information on upcoming workshops.
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