Making sure that I don't offer my own experiences too much, I watch as each of my goddaughter and nieces, who have grown into smart and strong young women, finds her way in the world.
Oh, to enjoy being a girl.
On a weekend visit, I supportively listen to my sister- and brother-in-law as they share their anxieties of their eldest, N., soon off to college. Her dad's biggest fear? N. will come home pregnant. I offer to be sure to send N. off to school with a jar of condoms and vaginal contraceptive film (VCF) - just in case. No doubt her mom has already prepared her with a confidential visit (that is, without mom during the exam) to the gynecologist. After all, she is a beautiful 17-year-old in a good ol' American high school. Having worked with high school and college students and their families for over a decade, I understand that my brother- and sister-in-law are in the midst of coming to terms with the end of N.'s childhood and the beginning of her adult life. Big sigh. While the greatest of parents stay connected to their children, it may be time to let go - just a little. Another big sigh. Who wouldn't be in a tizzy?
(I'm uneasy just leaving my seven-month-old with anyone other than my sister-in-law. I, too, must learn how to let go.)
I occasionally send a tiny care package - sometimes a box of champorado (chocolate rice pudding) - or simple note tucked with coffee cash right before semester mid-terms to D., who studies at Hampshire College, to let her know that I'm thinking of her. When A. is on the road for cheer competitions, I text her good luck wishes and check in to see how her team fared in the overall standings. I'm cautious not to cramp their styles as I don't want to cross their young adult boundaries. I remember how rebellious (and sometimes nasty) I was in my coming of age years. Good enough so that my parents trusted me. Bad enough so that I felt I could mouth off every so often and say exactly what was on my mind.
Oh, so trying to be a girl.
And now it's payback time. Because I have a daughter. She will probably give me even more heartache than I gave my parents. While a newbie at parenting, I hope to share some nuggets of wisdom (as I continue to learn more):
- Always express love.
- Do the work within yourself because it's the hardest work you'll ever do.
- Laugh lots and if it's the bellyaching kind, even better.
- Learn to please yourself because you can't depend on someone else to please you, plus it's safer.
- Try all different flavors of ice cream.
My wish for the dear girls in my life? Enjoy being you.