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The gift of raising a strong girl

Welcome to motherhood

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POSTED: May 14, 2014 2:00 p.m.

As pretty much any parent knows, children often have unique traits and characteristics that seem to have no specific origins. For example, my 2-year-old daughter, Reese, has a head full of baby-fine ringlets. Neither my husband nor I have curly hair. Actually, no one in either of our families (whom we know of) has curly hair.
For every attribute that can’t be traced back to a clear-cut source, though, there are plenty that have obvious roots, like my daughter’s left-handedness (my husband), her above-average height (me) and her bright-blue eyes (my husband). Then, there are the things we really hope Reese will pick up from us — learned habits, appreciations and tendencies. In those instances, we may be dealing with more of a “nurture vs. nature” scenario than a matter of inherited mannerisms.
That’s why I plan to go out of my way to always stress to Reese the importance of growing up to be a strong, independent, intelligent, capable woman who can take care of herself. This endeavor is at the forefront of my mind today, especially — our third Mother’s Day together.
My mother did the same for me, though I don’t remember exact occasions on which she taught me such lessons; it was more of a model-behavior learning experience. Growing up, I saw my mom single-handedly raise our family for several years while juggling her career and a multitude of other responsibilities. She didn’t complain. She never fell short of expectations. She set an amazing example and laid the groundwork for my sister and I to become responsible, competent, ambitious young women. Most of all, my mom fostered a sense of independence in her girls.
I’ve never been afraid to face the unknown, venture out on my own or set lofty goals for myself. Twice now, I’ve moved across the country to live in cities where I knew no one, simply because I refused to stymie my professional development. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but I knew I could handle whatever it was.
Single and living on my own for a number of years before I married my husband, I quickly became thankful to my mom for making sure I was equipped with solid life skills. Whether it was calling to argue with the cable company, putting together complicated-looking furniture, responsibly balancing my personal finances, taking the initiative to advance my career or performing moderately difficult home-maintenance jobs, I tackled with relative ease all of life’s routine duties and occasional challenges.
It never occurred to me to look around for an easier route or ask for help unless it was absolutely necessary. I was raised to understand that life isn’t always going to be a breeze, but learning to contend with the good, the bad and the ugly builds confidence and character — must-have traits for any woman who is determined to make her own way in the world.
For all those reasons, I’m so grateful to my mom today and every day. I think the best gift I can give her is to ensure I instill the same work ethic, self-confidence and ambition in my daughter. And so I will.

 

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