What My Iron-Willed Daughter Has Taught Me

Iron-Willed. It took me 2.5 years to accept that indeed, I was blessed with a Ms. Sassy, Independent, Persistent, Decisive, Iron-Willed, Immovable, Little Girl. I’m not sure why I was in such denial about this. On her debut, the first night in the hospital after her 50 hour / 5-day-late birth, she wouldn’t let me heal or sleep. The first three months of her life, she only wanted me. Dad tried soothing her every single evening, but the delicate yet fierce ten-pounder always defeated him. Dad would come cowering out of her bedroom and begrudgingly hand her back over to Mommy. And now into toddlerhood, she continues to stand above us, victorious on the gold medal stand while her mother and father reluctantly accept silver and bronze below her. This girl is tough. Iron-Willed.

When We Crush a Girl’s Vivacity
Meltdowns are commonly thrown for not wanting to change out of her PJs, or the urgent necessity to wear her princess dress while prancing through the mud. Brushing her teeth, wiping her downstairs business, and getting dressed are just a few of the tasks that she insists on doing independently. Let’s just say our days are long.

The thing is, is that I’m really starting to dig the Iron-Willed sass in my girl. The older she gets, the more I hope that she clings to this stubbornness. This girl knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to piss people off to get it. I envy it. It seems as though somewhere in preschool or grade school, little by little, adults sprinkle water over this fire and eventually there’s barely even a spark left. I’m sure I’m guilty of this too because I can’t let a two-year-old run the show all day.

But, I Hope She’s a Non-Conformist
As much as it drives me absolutely crazy, I hope that she continues to fight this good fight. I want her to always have this drive to be a non-conformist. As utterly exhausting as she can be, I want her to continue to push. This girl has the self-confidence that a grown woman – or man for that matter- can only dream about.  I don’t want to stifle her. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so effortlessly put it, “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” I hope she relies on herself always.

It’s inevitable that she’s going to fall, all the greats do. But, when she’s a young woman, after enduring many blunders, I hope that she still feels free. If she wants to backpack in Europe, join the Peace Corps, apply to med school or move across the country for a job, I pray she still has the guts to do it.

My Daughter, My Teacher
Like her mother, I gave my parents a run for their money. My daughter’s carrying voice, her independence, and of course the stubbornness, all scream Mommy. Karma, they say. Only, when I entered college, I took the “being free” thing to the bar instead of the classroom. I sort of lost sight of my abilities. I found my way, but I think I could have done more. And my daughter has taught me that it’s not too late. Maybe 35 can be the new 25. I decided that I wasn’t too old to earn another grad degree. My daughter is bold and daring and I want her to remember me that way too.

Don’t get me wrong, guiding her will be grueling. Some days she’s a bullet and there’s no getting in her way. I’m sure her teenage years will include a lot of yelling and tears, but I just hope that I don’t crush her spirit.

Her mountain can be on the soccer field, in the science lab, or in the courtroom, but I’ll gamble all the money in the world betting she’ll master the climb.

What have your children taught you?

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