28 Apr What I Know About Being Strong
There’s a lot of talk these days about raising strong girls. As a mother of 2 daughters, I’m doing my best to walk my own talk every single day. That said, I’m confident that anyone doing the same would agree, it has its challenges. When they’re young and they’re sassy-strong, it can be exhausting. As they get older, and they’re too-smart-for-their-own-good strong it can be agonizing. But there may come a day when your young adult daughter looks at you with all that strength you’ve helped to foster within her for so many years and with all the wisdom of the ages, speaks a truth more poignant and powerful than anything you’ve ever heard at exactly the right time.
I vividly remember coming away from a work meeting that my daughter and I attended together, my gut clenched and my throat tight. Unfortunately, it was a demoralizing meeting for me and I walked out feeling small, vulnerable, and tender. We sat quietly on the car ride how for quite some time before she broke the silence with a desperate urgency in her voice, “That wasn’t right, mom. And it’s not OK.” She stared at me from the passenger seat waiting for my response as tears streamed down my face. I knew that what she was saying was true. Because she witnessed it. How I was being treated wasn’t right. And it wasn’t OK.
I’m not going to lie. Having my daughter watch me being hurt like that was really hard. Hearing her call it out was even harder. Mostly because it should have been me who articulated what wasn’t right or OK for me. I wish I had been able to show her what it looked like to be strong; to question what was happening, to stand up for myself, to use my voice to push back. I would have much preferred showing her an example of my own strength, especially on my own behalf. Instead it was she who recognized it, felt it, and with great strength, spoke it to me. For me.
Thoughts and feelings about that day (and the days that followed) get stirred up again sometimes. Thankfully, I’m long past it now, grateful for where I am, and especially for where I’m not. Looking back, I’m really glad that my daughter WAS there with me, in that meeting. And I’m proud that she was strong enough to both recognize what was wrong to say something about it. It was a surreal moment, having my daughter stand up for me and knowing more than anything she wanted me to stand up for myself. What I realize most of all was that her speaking the truth that day wasn’t just an act of strength; it was an act of love.
And here’s what I know —now more than ever—about being strong; there is not always love in strength. But there is always strength in love.
I hope that truth never gets lost as we raise more and more strong girls.