For a long time I worried about what kind of mother I would be. Specifically, how I would relate to a daughter. All the studies say that we learn parenting skills from our own parents. While I can easily say that many people out there had worse childhoods than I did, I still do not want to repeat history.
Earlier this week Girl Terror told me that sometimes after she is in bed, she reads her books. "Just a few pages, Mummy. Until I get sleepy." I understand. I loved reading in bed as a kid. I still love reading in bed! But.... it's dark. And she should be sleeping. I told her "Be sure you aren't hurting your eyes, and don't read for too long." I did NOT glue blackout boards to her window. I did NOT rip her book up. I hopefully did NOT discourage her from telling me what she does.
Today, we went to buy a reading lamp for her. Normally, we avoid anything with cartoon characters, pop singers, or TV personalities on it. She knows this, and it is not a problem. I explained once why I was against Bratz, and she has never asked for any of their products. I let her know that Hannah Montana isn't my favourite role model, and she looks longingly at the merchendise, but rarely asks for it. Today, she admired a Barbie night light. We came home with a dolphin shaped light that Hubby picked out. Long story short, the dolphin was hideous and didn't cast light, so she and I took it back. Without Hubby there to be strong, I knew the pink Barbie lamp would be like a siren.
Girl Terror and I wandered up and down the aisle. We saw modern crane lamps. We admired "antique" table lamps. And of course, we saw a pink Barbie lamp, and a pink Princess lamp. I took a few basic lamps, and told her to pick one. She couldn't. She wanted to know which one was my favourite. I wouldn't tell her, and she got truly upset. If I wouldn't tell her my favourite, then she couldn't pick one.
I remember being this child. I too was a people pleaser. My favourite color was whatever my mother's was. My favourite food, the same as Dad's. I never voiced an opinion for fear of being wrong. I do not want my child to be like me.
Girl Terror finally choose the lamp she was sure I liked. As we were walking toward the check-out, she told me all the reasons this was a good choice. It was practical. It would last a long time. Daddy would like it. I could see her convincing herself that it wasn't so bad, and I flashed back to shopping with my own mother.
We were shoe shopping. At my school, the dress code required skirts or dresses, and dress shoes. I wanted what every other teenage girl had...pretty dress shoes with a bit of a delicate heel. My mother chose burgundy leather, practical, no-nonsense, sensible shoes. The type nurses wear. They had thick rubber soles. They were hideous. I did NOT say a word. I wore them all through grade 11, and I hated every minute.
I wasn't allowed to have pretty, girly type things. I did NOT ask, because that would just show a weakness waiting to be exploited. I wore ugly shoes. I had practical clothes. I wasn't allowed to read in bed, but if I were, I bet my lamp would have been a basic, possibly second hand, stern black or grey metal lamp.
We went back to the lighting aisle. I put down Girl Terror's first choice, and picked up a pink Princess lamp. "I think I need a Princess lamp, okay?" She looked up at me. "Oh, Mummy!! I think you need it too! And I can use it, okay?!" She hugged me. She beamed at me. She proudly carried her new lamp to the check-out, and it is now next to her bed.
Today, I did NOT repeat the mistakes from my childhood. Instead, I let my daughter be a little girl, and I was her beloved Mummy.