After graduating post-secondary school, I went to a job interview where counseling was a huge component of the job description. It was an interview set-up that I had never experienced before. I found myself sitting in a nicely decorated, chic living room with 3 other women discussing life goals, regrets, mistakes, etc. To be honest it felt more like a therapy session than a job interview, but I didn’t mind it at all. The last question the panelist had for me was: when you have children, what is one thing you would want them to know? I was a single girl in my early 20s then, so my husband and daughter were not even anywhere in the picture yet. The question threw me off guard at first but without skipping a beat and having never considered this question before, I answered, “I would want them to know that they can always come home.”
Growing up I never really felt like I had a safety net; no parachute to lessen the velocity of my nosedives. My airbag was myself. I never really felt protected- at least not in the way most children are supposed to. When you grow up knowing your own strength is basically all you will ever have (this is up to me, if I don’t get this right then I have nothing), it’s pretty powerful and makes life a lot more real.
My sisters and I were born and raised in Canada after my parents emigrated here. Throughout my entire childhood, my parent’s English skills were always new or developing. Because of this, my sisters and I were always the ones (as children) constantly helping them translate and communicate with various customer service representatives or navigate different government agencies. At the time, we obviously didn’t think much of it but now I can reflect on how children of that age shouldn’t have to worry about explaining to a customer service rep why their parents are unable to pay this bill or that invoice. Children shouldn’t have to be aware of how close their family is from not being able to put food on the table by filling out government assistance applications on behalf of their parents.
And so, even before I became a mother, I always knew in my heart what I wanted for my child.
I want to be that safety net for her; just enough for her to have the courage to step out and try things on her own knowing she always has us to lean on.
I want her to feel secure; she has the right to be the child and us, the adults.
I want her to be able to live freely and discover the world through her innocent eyes.
I want her to know that if she makes a mistake, we will be there no matter what.
I want her to feel like she doesn’t have anything to worry about. She just has to focus on being happy every day because as long as she’s happy, her father and I will be happy.
I don’t believe my job as a parent is to save her from every conflict and solve every problem. She ultimately needs to grow to be self-sufficient, aware, adaptable, confident, empathetic, and strong-willed. And hopefully through her own unique journey, she will grasp how important it is to be positive, offer kindness and have perspective.
After I moved out of my parent’s house (I was technically the last of my sisters to move out), I knew I’d never want to go back. It wasn’t because I didn’t love my parents, I just could no longer live with them. And there was never really anything there for me to begin with, therefore the thought of returning was never even a possibility in my mind. To me, a house doesn’t make a home; it’s who you can feel safe with, rely on and find happiness with that make a home.
What is one thing you would want your daughter to know?
That she can always come home.
This post was done in collaboration with Pete Springer. Pete and I wanted to collaborate on a post about parenting- we have that in common. We decided that he would write about his dreams for his son and I would write about my dreams for my daughter. Pete is a lifelong educator who taught elementary school for 31 years in grades 2-6. After he retired, he wanted to give something back to a profession that had been so good to him. He wrote a book entitled They Call Me Mom, a joke he says every elementary teacher will understand. It is a combination memoir/advice book for inexperienced and future teachers. His new dream is to write novels for the age he knows best—middle grades. His debut children’s novel, Second Chance Summer, has just been edited, and he anticipates beginning the querying process in the next few weeks. Pete has a wonderfully insightful and engaging blog where he writes about education, children, role models and parenting/discipline. When you have a moment, please be sure to check out his page!
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