The other day, I was on the phone with one of my oldest and closest friends. We were talking about whether or not to have kids.
Quick background: I already have one. She’s 10 months old. It feels like I’ve been a parent forever. My friend, on the other hand, is still unsure about the whole child-rearing situation. And, in a moment of total honesty, she confessed one of her bigger fears:
What if I have a daughter? There is so much more to worry about with a girl.
Well, shoot. I just had one. And here’s the truth: I thought the exact same thing. I still do.
I worried a daughter would inherit my neurosis, my OCD, all of my worst traits. Finding out I was having a girl stirred up all my deepest and most personal fears: What if she’s just like me? What if she makes the same mistakes I did?
Unfortunately, there is literally nothing you can do about that. You don’t know what your child will be like. And you cannot choose her actions for her. So, on to the next fear:
What if something bad happens to her? Something completely beyond my control?
It seems like the world has its own particular set of bad things that happen to women. It’s terrifying. Sometimes I feel like I dodged a statistical bullet because I made it through the first third of my life physically and emotionally unscathed.
These fears can be overwhelming. (See: OCD.) But sleepless nights can sometimes end with an emotional insight. This was mine:
I have a daughter. It is terrifying.
There is so much more to worry about with a girl.
Since I can’t always protect her, here is how I will arm her…
As a parent, I don’t ever want to be the Worst Case Scenario. A Worst Case Scenario is being 16 and getting into a car with a friend who had too much to drink. A Worst Case Scenario is selling a kidney on the black market because you’re secretly in Cabo for Spring Break and you ran out of cash.
Calling your mom for a sober ride should be The Less Scary Option. Asking your mom for a wire transfer should be The Less Scary Option.
In an effort to avoid some of the horrific things that could happen to my kid, I want her to know she can always, always ask me for help. Or talk to me about what’s bothering her. Sure, she may get grounded or lose a privilege or hear a solution she doesn’t like— but she should also know I’ll still love her. And everything will eventually be ok. And that the best decision she could have made was involving me.
From elementary school bullies to high school parties to college dates, a strong circle of friends that looks out for and loves one another is one of the most important things I could ever wish for my daughter. There were some days (ok, mostly nights) when my friends and I saved each other’s lives. Like really, really saved each other.
I can’t pick my daughter’s friends for her, but I can influence how she chooses them. Starting with my own relationships.
Hopefully, she will hear the reasons I praise and value my friends (and family members). Hopefully, she will see that surrounding yourself with quality people makes for a better quality of life.
There are so many other ways to arm our daughters. Education. Self-awareness. Karate. Bear Mace. (Kidding. Different post.)
Still, those qualities are so often encouraged and enhanced by the people in our lives. Which is why I’m counting on my daughter’s relationships to help alleviate a lot of my fears— starting with the one between the two of us.
What are you other moms-of-daughters worried about? And what are you doing to alleviate your fears?