Ex-super model, Cindy Crawford, was recently quoted as saying that her thirteen year old daughter, Kaia, has inherited her model skin, hair and legs. It’s painfully obvious that Ms Crawford is not quite at ease seeing her daughter inherit the characteristics that once propelled her into the spotlight. For glamorous women, who’ve spent most of their formative years with an entourage of stylists, designer couture, photo-shoots in exotic locations and personal assistants its unsettling when they realise that the wonder years have rolled away.
How should a mother adapt to the fact that her pre-pubescent daughter is turning heads? With grace and dignity is the politically correct answer but many of us feel twinges of envy as we recall our salad days. Our daughters are a mirror image. A wistful sigh escapes as we watch the metamorphosis of our button nosed and pig tailed young ‘un into a curvaceous and vivacious child woman. In them we see our vigour and desires reborn.
Oh for the hedonism of youth when we were smooth faced and could commit the cardinal sin of going to bed without removing our make-up! Staying up late and partying into the small hours never fazed us even when there was a history assignment to hand in the next day. There was no such thing as a bad hair day. The tousled, beach hair look was a permanent feature and the damage from rollers and tongs was minimal to our bouncy tresses.
However much we slapped on the war paint for an evening out we’d emerge fresh faced and apple cheeked once cleaned up. Our poor feet took more than a few batterings, rammed into slinky stilettos they’d dance the night away. With concave stomachs, that a menopausal woman would die for, we’d pile in the spare ribs, fries and fizzy drinks that never touched the sides of our firm midriffs. Graceful and gauche, living at an unhurried pace and laughing at our elders when they chided us for irresponsibility. Ah glorious youth, she worships at your altar now.
Superficiality aside, our daughters are the embodiment of natural optimism and enthusiasm. Some of it we wish we could recapture. Life moves forward and never looks backwards. Our daughters remind us that the years are passing and sometimes a little too fast. The Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran tells us that : “children are life’s longing for itself” and as our daughters move closer to independence a sense of longing for when they were soft and malleable remains. Every generation presents challenge and controversy. Too often we can’t relate to their personal struggles as the generation gap ever widens in the Information Age. It’s important that we pass on our fortitude but our foibles will be visible too.
As mothers we are the first role models and our behavior is pivotal to their healthy womanhood. Enlightened parenting is the strategy of success and you’ll have to enlist Dad’s help with this. We have to be the greatest change they’ll ever know and that means owning up to our failures and passing on the lessons learned. Taking care of our own spiritual, emotional and physical health is fundamental and imparting that to a stubborn teenager is an epic battle of wits. Maintaining a sense of humour and wise perspective will diffuse the tensions somewhat. In some cases gritting your teeth, biting your tongue and painting on a smile will keep lines of communication open.
Just like you, daughters are tough on the outside but with a soft centre. It’s helpful to remember that less than civil behavior could be zinging hormones. Leave a wide berth for her hissy fits and respect her need to work things out without your help.
Her life is like an unmarked page and she’s on the threshold of her journey into love. The first taste of sweet romance is indelibly etched into our minds. She’s in love with life and life loves her back. Choosing a love that’s worthy is something she’ll not rush into. We know only too well that the knight-in-shining armour she’s dreaming of can quickly turn into a bronzed knightmare. We can’t shatter her dreams and we have to trust in her intelligent spirit. The girl’s got sense and you know who she got that from.
At graduation she’ll make you proud and when she takes a year out for passion fuelled adventure you’ll frown. Conflicts will flow and ebb and maturity is called for – on both sides. She’ll need a mother’s support through school, career, marriage, motherhood…until…gulp…you find yourself nurturing another mini-me…a grandchild.
A woman has to have faith and hope and more than a little patience for the maternal rollercoaster. She’s fresh, funny, feisty and frustrating – like mother, like daughter – so move over Cindy, you’re about to be upstaged!