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I often think about the positive imprints I'd like to leave on my daughter, what wisdom or good advice I'd like her to learn from me, and the values I hope I can instill in her. When someone asks her in the future, "What is the best lesson that your mother ever taught you?", what would I like her to say? How to go about making those wishes a reality is a whole other complex ball game, years in the making. But what if she had a fairy godmother who I was in cahoots with, and who could make it all happen with a snap of her fingers and a wave of her wand? What would I ask for, for Mia?
That is the question that Kate from Kate Takes 5 is asking in this week's Listography - your top 5 wishes for your child. In the back of my mind, I'd always planned to write a post like this so I was so glad to see the prompt, it was like the stars had aligned! It's a hard question though (and being a perfectionist, of course I'm poring over this like it's my Year 12 exam or something), and in reality my list would be endless, but here are some of the ones I've come up with:
To be a non-smoker
Pretty specific, you might be thinking?
My love-hate relationship with cigarettes is something I've been dealing with for about 12 years or so now. There's so much baggage for me when it comes to this issue (in fact, I've been thinking about writing a post on it), but the bottom line is that taking up smoking is my biggest regret and has caused much anger and self-loathing over the years. It's something that I don't think you can understand unless you've been a smoker yourself, and even then, every smoker has a different view. But I hope when the time comes, I'll find a way to impress on Mia through my own experience just how much of a burden it becomes, and that it's something she'll never have to deal with.
To be able to take things at face value, and give people the benefit of the doubt
One of my biggest downfalls is that I'm super-sensitive and I over-analyse things, down to the tiniest of details. I'll be having a conversation with someone, and just by the slightest change in the tone of their voice or a simple facial expression, I'll immediately assume it to be insinuating something hurtful towards me, and I'll ponder over it obsessively and work myself up over it. Until my hubby, ie. the voice of reason, somehow snaps me out of it simply by telling me I'm reading too much in to it and that there's no point in wasting any more time on it so just assume that no harm was intended.
I think there's a fine line between being intelligent enough to read between the lines, and meticulously scrutinising the stuff between the lines with a high-powered magnifying glass. I hope that Mia can be the former and can have faith that the majority of people are not out to intentionally hurt her.
I want her to be confident that her opinion counts and to speak it, confident that she can achieve, confident in her strengths, and that she can always get better and learn more, and confident that she is a good person who is deserving of love and happiness. I want her to be happy in her own skin.
To be able to move on
We all have bad moments, and bad days, sometimes bad weeks or months. But when the going gets tough, you can either let yourself be drowned in it and just sink, or you can have faith that things can only get better and that YOU can change it. Regardless of whether you can actually change the situation, you can change how you're affected by it and your attitude towards it, which means a hell of a lot. You can choose - am I going to wallow around in self-pity over this, or am I going to hold my head high and triumph over it? I like to choose the latter, but can't always make it happen. I hope that Mia has more of her father's resilience in this respect, he seems to be able to find the positives in bad situations and to move on from them a lot easier than I can.
To always feel like she can confide in me
I hope that Mia and I can remain close and that I'm someone she'll always come to for advice, support and understanding. I hope I can be a guide and a safehaven for her, without being patronising or trying too hard to cross over from "Mum" to "friend". I want her to come to me with problems, talk about it and have me listen, then have me offer my thoughts and advice, finish up with a cuddle, and then have her decide whether my suggestions are the right ones for her.
Writing this post has really made me think deeply about a lot of things. I'm aware that my list above all comes straight back to me, it's also a list of things that I wish for myself, areas that are my own weaknesses. A wish that I have for myself as a parent is to support and love my daughter no matter what, to encourage her to become her own person and not try to force her in to making up for my own shortcomings. So I wonder, is it just a natural parenting instinct to wish things for your children that are things you've not been able to accomplish yourself? After all, what's the use of having all this life experience over your own children if you can't use it to help them in some way?
And I also wondered how this list might change as Mia gets older. She's only 23 months now, but as she grows up and her individual personality really starts to reveal itself, so will her strengths and weaknesses, so that's bound to change what I would wish for her and what I know she already possesses.
I have to say, this has been one of my favourite posts to write, and I can't wait to read what everyone else has written. Thank you Kate!
This post is also part of the April Digital Parents Blog Carnival, being hosted by Louisa Claire. Check out all of the wonderful entries over at Louisa's!