The path to hell is paved with good intentions. Over the past few months, I have thought about this often.
My daughter is flirting with adulthood. She is in that in-between phase, where she is not quite a woman, but long past being a girl. I find myself desperately trying to pour my words of wisdom into her, and simultaneously knowing that she is rolling her eyes at all of it. Such is our lot as humankind. We are surrounded by the wisdom of our elders, yet we must experience our mistakes for ourselves.
It is a mother’s penitence that she must watch her daughter relive her mistakes. Knowing that each decision that I made seemed like the most logical of the given choices, at a particular moment in time, is cold comfort when you are watching your child struggle. Watching my girl suffer, because of choices that I made, is a bitter pill to swallow.
My daughter is so smart, and so beautiful. I cannot help but look at her and know the many, many challenges that she will face. I want to shake her! I want her to understand that she needs an education, a beautiful body, wit, charm, and resilience to get through all of the craziness that she will face in life.
With my son, I was never worried. Somehow, boys are able to repel the many traps that are set for young girls. Of course I worried about him, but somehow, with my daughter, it almost feels more like an existential threat. I know the thoughts that cross the minds of men that are far too old for her and watch her appraisingly. I know of their expectations. I want to see my daughter learn how to navigate the dangerous waters ahead. I do not want to see my strong, fierce, beautiful daughter become a victim.
It saddens me when I see her make choices that I know will not serve her. I hate when I see her choose friends that have cheated her. I want to lash out when I see her go back to a boy who has mistreated her. She has no idea her worth. My God, if she had any idea of the power that she possessed, she could rule the world! Why does she throw it away on false friends and ignorant boys? The reason is for the same reason I did. We are doomed to repeat history, because we never learn from it.
And so, I watch my daughter make my same mistakes. I watch her choose the wrong men. I watch her trust false friends. I watch men that are far too old for her look at her in ways that they have no right to do. I want to hurt them, beat them, to run after them and scream that she is a child! How dare they!
But I don’t. Would it make a difference? So, I hold my daughter when she will let me. I stroke her hair when she sleeps. I cover her with a comforter, and kiss her brow when I know she will not know I was there. I text her my counsel, when she seeks it. I clutch the phone and try to will my words to penetrate her consciousness. Survive! Be strong! Get an education! Don’t settle!
Mostly, though, I want my daughter to know that she is no victim. My daughter is no plaything. My daughter is not a prize to claim. My daughter is whomever she chooses. It is up to her alone. Be strong, my girl. You are incredible. Claim your birthright. The mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and all women who came before have got your back.
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