Like wildflowers; You must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would. ~E.V.
Raising a girl is an incredible privilege. As my daughter grows older, I feel like more and more she looks up to me and wants to be just like me. Of course, we all know that no parent is perfect. I know I'm far from it. But what I feel like the best thing I can teach her is by being bold to do things I feel called to do and learning to embrace failure.
I'll admit, deep down, I am afraid of failure (who am I kidding?) -- so much so that often I am filled with so much anxiety. Take for example a product launch: if a launch "fails" or doesn't meet expectations, I share with her my disappointment, but then also try to show her that I learn from it and that I don't let it keep me from moving forward. I really believe that she appreciates knowing how human I am.
Whenever June perceives that she has "failed" at something, she takes it really hard. She gets upset, and then fear kicks in and almost cripples her. In those moments I hold her close, I let her know that I am proud of her, and that even though the outcome is not what she had hoped, that this too, is a blessing and a learning opportunity.
I think embracing failure is the hardest thing to learn, but we're learning together. And it doesn't end there. Being able to embrace failure also helps her to be bold and to try things that she would otherwise have shied away from.
My twenty-something-year-old-self never dreamt that one day, I would be designing clothes for women and littles for my own clothing line, because it just didn't seem like something that actually happened to anyone I knew. I am not a risk-taker, and would prefer to follow a clear path that has been carved out by others. It took years of trying different things, running head-on into different opportunities, meandering, and then meandering some more, to finally get to where I finally found my purpose. Without those road blocks along the path, detours, many "failed" (or at least at the time they seemed like it) ideas or actions, I would not have grown the way I have over the last decade.
Growing up, I thought my mother was perfect. Of course, deep down, I probably knew she wasn't, but still, I admired her so much that I wanted to be just like her. As I grew older, and especially when my parents went through a bitter divorce, I came to a slow realization that she was far from being perfect. But she loved me, believed me, and encouraged me to be who I am. Now that I am a mom, I realize it's not at all about being perfect, but it's about being loving and encouraging, believing, and instilling a sense of self-worth in my daughter.
My mother knew well my fear of failure, especially during graduate school, when I would have emotional breakdowns (true story, I was crazy) and agonize over my costume design projects. I wanted so badly for everything to be perfect, and the pressure was just too great. I remember being stuck because my many ideas weren't working together. Mom would always be there to listen to my challenges, and be a sounding board when I needed it. She was always my biggest cheerleader: "You're the best and I believe you'll figure this all out." And she was right, I don't remember a single challenge that hadn't been overcome when I set my mind to it. She enabled me to be bold and to grow even when the circumstances seemed impossible.
I hope that as mothers who raise our children, especially daughters that look up to us, that we don't feel like we have to have it all together and be perfect. Our very imperfections and failures and how we rise from them are teaching moments for them as well as the obvious "successes" that we experience.
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