My daughter is going to college this year. She’ll be hundreds of miles away in another region of the country. I know she’s ready, and I know that she’ll change a lot when she’s there. She’ll grow up, she’ll meet the people with whom she’ll be lifelong friends, she’ll make strides towards her career. I find myself wanting to be sure that I’ve imparted everything she needs to know, but I know that is impossible to do. I have to trust her. I have to trust myself.
Reading What I Told My Daughter: Lessons From Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women helped me put things into perspective. These are honest and moving essays from amazing women. Women who have been first in their fields for women, in politics, in law enforcement. They wrote about balancing work and bringing up those daughters. Sometimes that meant taking a break from work. Other times it meant leaving their daughters behind and hoping that she would learn from her mom’s example.
The reason that the book encouraged me is that rarely did these women really tell their daughters anything. They showed them. Woman after woman recounted stories in which their daughters made choices based on what they knew. Their daughters sometimes brought up things that were never specifically discussed but that made an impression on them.
I was reminded that our values are not taught, they are caught. We can talk, but if our own actions don’t back them up, we lose credibility. Living life together with the foundation of true, unconditional love helped these moms get through hard times like their daughter’s teenage pregnancy or drug addiction, but also happier milestones such as awards, recognition, and finding true love.
This would be a great book to give to your mother for Mother’s Day, or to ask for from your daughter so that you can read it together.