As grim as this may sound, at the end of the day we are the only ones we can depend on to always have our backs. Let’s raise our kids to be their greatest champions.
Last week, I took an emotional rollercoaster ride. I went from lighthearted to heavyhearted to lighthearted. Up. Down. Inside out. Right side out. Round and round. You name it, I went there. And all on account of it being dance recital week at Anna’s school.
My daughter (born yesterday) finishes high school in 14 days.
As a youngster, she was a gangly little dancer. I knew she enjoyed her extra-curricular classes but didn’t consider dance to be a serious passion of hers. Enter Rosedale Heights School of the Arts.
For the past four years, she’s been giving her all to dance, attending physiotherapy on a bi-weekly basis for most of that time in order to battle the ailments that try to keep her down. For the past two years, she’s chosen to peer-tutor Grade 9 students and take summer classes to make up for the credits she’s had to forego in order to do this.
She’s also been through a lot (#hertoo) that isn’t mine to write about. In light of all this, last week’s recital felt, at least to me, like a defining moment. Love, heartache, and victory all wrapped into one big end-of-year production.
We all need champions to cheer us on.
Children especially. I grew up with two parents. Two brothers. Two grandmothers. An abundance of great aunts, great uncles, and second cousins. Two homes. One in England. One in Canada. Both full of people showing up for me and wishing me the best.
This isn’t the case for my daughter.
I left England in my mid-twenties and settled in Toronto, so her maternal grandparents live a seven-hour plane ride away, as does one of her uncles and his family. Her other uncle and his wife live in Los Angeles. Closer, but still a plane ticket away.
And then I married a man whose family was based in Ottawa. Seeing them involved a four-hour car ride, so they weren’t part of our daily lives. Flash forward to when she was eight and her father and I separated.
He remarried, as did I. So I am not a single woman, but I do consider myself to be a single parent. As such, I am my daughter’s biggest cheerleader.
Having champions in the wings doesn’t always cut it.
She has a father who loves her, but he does so from a distance having moved 160 km away a few years ago. She has a stepfather right here who cares deeply for her, as well as extended family and friends who feel like family. They enrich our lives, but the gaps still remain.
Her family is scattered and while I would never want to diminish the contribution of any of them, I am unquestionably her primary champion. The one who gets to hear about her biggest wins and biggest battles (when she chooses to share them) and cheer her on daily.
But having me as her greatest champion isn’t enough.
As recital week was underway, all I could think about was how much MORE I want my daughter to have. Not in the way of material things, but in the way of family. Alas, this is beyond my control.
The hardest thing about motherhood is, I think, never knowing ‘what is enough.’ That, and realizing that we could give ALL of ourselves and it might still not be enough. That is why, I suppose, we long so deeply for our children to discover the power within. Because if they can learn to be their greatest champions, they will always have enough.
How exactly can we teach our children to be their greatest champions?
If you have a daughter, you might want to check out this article about raising powerful girls. From encouraging them to pursue their passions to giving them a voice in their own decisions, it offers some valuable advice.
One thing it doesn’t mention that I feel strongly about — we need to model self-love. It’s up to us to teach our children that they have the biggest role to play in their own happiness.
This doesn’t mean plastering on a smile and pretending that everything is peachy. Lord knows my daughter has seen me get knocked down more times than I care to count. But just as many times she has seen me get myself back up and that’s what counts.
I model self-love by making time for pursuits that revolve around ME. In and around caring for my family, my clients, our dog and our home, she sees me going to yoga, writing, reading, playing my flute, and at times, attending therapy, all for no other reason than finding my happy place. My balance.
Because when we are balanced, we are at our strongest. And it’s when we’re at our strongest that we can count on ourselves to be our greatest champions.
Viv for today xo
And now, on a completely opposite note, check out my biggest parenting fail.
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