A Strong Woman
“I am going to get married.” This simple sentence was uttered two nights ago while Ila and I were sitting together playing. When I say that this phrase was completely out of the blue (we were playing with a Fisher Price car driving it to and fro on a mat of a city. We were stopping at the store, at the park…and BOOM!!! Out of the blue…there it was…”I am going to get married,” uttered from my beautiful two and a half year old’s mouth.
I know that perhaps this next statement will put some off, perhaps even anger others, but that particular statement uttered by my daughter was highly unsettling to me. It actually caused me a great deal of anxiety. It isn’t that I am anti-marriage (per se). It’s just that I want that particular life’s ambition to be towards the BOTTOM of her to-do list. And well, surprise, surprise…it got me thinking. I couldn’t stop wondering where she got the idea from…where she had heard the words…how she made the decision that that was something that “girls” say. (And she may have not been doing ANY of that. She may have just been repeating something that she’d heard or saw somewhere…) But just in case, just in case…
I won’t lie to you, I felt an urgent need to begin to pontificate the virtues of living one’s life to the fullest-travel, WORLD travel, jobs, apartments, roommates, a string of broken hearts that would reach across the states and double back. I wanted to tell her that she doesn’t need a man to make her feel complete, that the world was so much more than that. I wanted to open up to well worn passages written in Eat, Pray, Love that I had memorized so that she too could drink in those vital words and let them fill her heart. I wanted to read to her Francesca’s lament to Robert in that brilliant novel, Bridges of Madison County. You know the one, “When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you’re expected to move again only you don’t remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you.” Uh uh uhhhh. Sing it girl. Sing it!
But then Hindsight crept in in its own sly way. “Get a hold of yourself,” it whispered. “For cripes sakes, she’s only two!” After reaching for a brown paper bag and breathing into it for quite some time, I decided to listen to my pal, Hindsight, to see if she had any wisdom, and it seems as usual, she did.
Telling vs. Guiding. Telling vs. Guiding. Keep those two words in mind dear readers. As I delved deeper into my memories of wanting the boys to do a specific thing or believe a certain value, telling them never got me very far. In fact, it usually got me the opposite. A very simple example of this would be wearing a winter jacket. Every morning before school the same fight would ensue. “Put on your jacket. It is cold out,” and like clockwork either Son1 or Son2 would refuse, roll their eyes, or just out and out say “No!” But say nothing and put on my own coat? Sit in the driveway for five minutes while the frosty windshield defrosted–me all nice and toasty while my coatless sons sat in the backseat shivering…YUP…THAT got them to wear their coats and I didn’t even have to say a word.
Hindsight nudged me a little further. She reminded me to see the bigger picture. What was it about that statement that really wigged me out? What is it that I wanted for Ila that the marriage statement seemingly threatened? So once again I dug deep and realized that it was important for me that Ila saw her own worth from the inside. I want her to be strong and confident because she knows in her very core that she can do anything, will do anything, will BE anything, and will GO anywhere she pleases because SHE is capable. Perhaps I equated the utterance about marriage to one that meant that having a husband would give her some worth. Perhaps I was projecting a bit…just a bit. After all, I believed with all I had in my early twenties that to be successful meant to have a career, a husband and children. It was such a narrow view of the world and what it offered me. But I won’t tell Ila that. Instead, I will GUIDE her by helping her see her own powerful potential.
So the next time my precocious two year old utters “I am going to get married.” (Perhaps she won’t again until she is 35. Hey…one can dream.) Instead of reaching for that brown paper bag to keep me from passing out, I’ll smile and say, “Whatever you want Ila because strong girls can do, go, or be anything they want, and YOU Ila are one strong girl.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.