Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sassy Little Girls Grow Up To Be Strong Women

My mom was a strong-willed woman. She gave birth to and raised two strong-willed daughters. We, in turn, are raising three strong-willed granddaughters.

I'm often reminded of this when I least expect it. Most days I'm proud of them. Some days I just wish they wouldn't use their strong-willed attitudes towards me.

Kid 4 just returned home from her week-long trip to Washington DC with Junior National Young Leaders Conference. She had a fabulous time, learned a lot, made life-long contacts and was chosen for unique opportunities to improve her leadership skills.

But like a typical kid, she was home all of about an hour when the fighting with her siblings started. Which led to this conversation:

Me: Abby, please just stop talking.
Abby: I don't have to. I have freedom of speech. I learned all about it this week in DC.

Now, the parenting books probably would say I should have stopped right there and disciplined her for being sassy. Or I could have pointed out that my house is it's own little country and she has no rights under my dictatorship.

Instead, I stifled my smile, looked her directly in the eye, and said "You should use your powers for good and not evil."

She knew what I meant. She's a smart kid.

The other night I had kid 6 with me at the end of my 11 hour workday. At one point she got up to hang a sign she had made for me on my office door.

"Girls and moms rock the world. No one can change that." 

I thought it was just a cute little sign at first. Then I thought it was pretty intuitive of my  eight year old. Does she see herself as a strong girl? Does she see me as a strong mom? Have I taught her she is a powerful being who should always stand up for herself?

I was definitely aware of strong, powerful women who refused to be silenced this week. Kid 4 was meeting with Mary Beth Tinker in Washington, DC.  In fact she was at the Capital Building when the Supreme Court handed down it's landmark ruling against DOMA, a lawsuit initiated by 84-year-old Edith Windsor. Here at home, I followed Wendy Davis's 11-hour filibuster in Texas. 

Do my little girls sassing me now or drawing me pictures mean they too will one day make history? Probably not. But I do hope they always maintain their 'stand up for themselves' attitude. I hope they never allow themselves to be disrespected. And I hope they too will one day stand up and fight when they see an injustice.

But, please, just not against me.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nowhere Else But Here

My girls dance recital was last weekend. I did not cry when they danced onto the stage.

I didn't cry, much.

My mom always cried at my childhood events. Always. A lot. A few of my tears last weekend were for my mom, wishing she could be here to see her granddaughters dancing on that big stage. My mom would always tell me "wild horses couldn't keep me away" from whatever performance was upcoming next.

Kid 6 sound asleep on the way home but still
holding on to the flowers her brothers gave
her. There's no place else better
than right here.
With my recent divorce I'm now working full time and am missing a lot of my kids events. The girls asked if I would have to work the night of the recital. Wild horses couldn't keep me away, I told them.

Me, each of my four boys, one of the boys girlfriends and two friends who have stepped up to help my family this past year were all there to cheer as the girls danced the night away. My friend leaned over a couple times to whisper her amazement at how good the girls, all the girls of the dance school, were. Yep, our little town dance school owned that big Memphis stage Saturday night.

Seeing the joy on my girls faces as they danced brought me joy in the midst of a very difficult year.

As I watched,  I wondered what could possibly be better than this to drag me away from here?  A night out with friends? No. A moonlit walk on my favorite California beach? No. A trip away? No.

I am often overwhelmed at being a single mom of six kids. I'm over stressed, over worried and missing out on events I never had to miss out on before. But watching my little girls on that big stage, I'm reminded I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Nothing, no place and no person is more important to me than being there for my kids. Nights like recital night remind me as difficult as life is right now, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.