I remember my life well several years ago. I was pretty happy, I’d say. Me and my husband had just moved to Minnesota. We made some wonderful friends and were discovering the beauty of lush, lake-filled Minnesota as well as the nasty mosquito and tick-infested side of our new stomping grounds. We loved being out on our own, creating our own space, exploring new adventures, living a simpler small town life (well, small for us).
I was pretty satisfied with the fairly rose-colored (naive as some would say, I’m sure) lens through which I viewed the world. I’ve never believed naïveté was a bad thing. Take life one step at a time and learn as you go i say – you’ll always be naive to SOMEONE!! And I was pretty satisfied with the architectural construct that was my view of the world, myself, and my family.
…and then my daughter was born.
The first couple of months were a blur of chaos, as they tend to be. But soon she started doing some fun things. Smiling. Laughing. Crawling. TALKING….UNDERSTANDING….
Uh oh. I started to realize that she was going to be a person. A person who understands, believes, knows, can be influenced, and can be an influencer. I started to see in her eyes the amazing potential she has. I realized the sky is the limit for her, she will have the opportunity to change the world, lead people, influence people, live happily and joyfully!! And who will be her biggest, most important influences in that journey?
Me and her daddy.
I started to look very closely at myself. The greatest influence i could personally give her in her life would be my example. If I wanted her to be a strong, confident, self-assured, giving, and ambitious woman then I would need to be those things too.
And I wasn’t.
At least not like I wanted to be. What happened, I wondered? What happened to the snarky, girl-power, charitable, argumentative, stubborn, ambitious girl I was deep down? Where were the lessons I learned from my independent, determined mother, and the example of my father who embraced and supported others wholeheartedly no matter their background, belief system, or future endeavors? Where was the girl that fell in love with my sarcastic, rebellious, incredibly kind-hearted husband who wanted nothing but to see me achieve the lofty goals I dreamed of? She was still there; she wasn’t gone. But somewhere down the line she had stagnated. She had stopped trusting her instincts. She had ceased to grow in confidence and self-belief. And I didn’t know why.
I think that’s pretty normal. I think that happens in life. Life is a journey with many stops and marshes along the way. But it wasn’t going to work anymore. If I wanted my daughter to achieve whatever goals she set for herself, I needed to start working towards mine. If I wanted her to believe in herself, I needed to believe in myself. If I wanted her to trust her own brain, instincts, and conscience, I needed to do the same.
Something had to change. I could not, would not raise my daughter to harbor the insecurities, perfectionistic tendencies, and self-doubt I had come to encompass (not in a boat, not with a goat! Not in a house, not with a mouse!).
And so, I started working hard on myself. I started to ask myself what I wanted, who I wanted to be, where I wanted my life to take me. I asked myself the kind of mother I wanted to be. I left parts of my life behind, and adopted new influences. I reduced negative thought patterns and focused on the positive. I dug around to figure out the roots of who I am and began to build.
I gathered up my daughter, held the hand of my husband – a person who has never apologized for being who he is and stands by me as my greatest example of living without guile – held my future baby boy close, stepped through the door to a lighter, more authentic me, and let it close behind me.
Thank you, Alyssa, for inspiring this journey. Thank you for looking at me with trusting, believing eyes and showing me how much potential I have. Thank you for existing and being my greatest inspiration.
Thank you for being born 5 years ago today.
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