Every day she changes. Her hair gets just a little longer, her face gets a tad bit thinner, she grows just a smidge taller, she ages another day, she becomes a little more independent, and she gets just a little closer to being a woman.
From the day she was born, I knew she was special. I knew that we were going to have a bond unlike any other I had ever known. She would become my only daughter and for a very long time, I thought she would be my last child.
Over the years, I made a point to raise her through love instead of fear and always fully encouraged her independence and development of her own personality. When I need her to do something, I do not have to threaten or punish, I ask and explain why it’s important. I also give her many freedoms I did not have growing up, as times were different back then.
For instance, I never force her to wear clothes she doesn’t feel comfortable in (including dresses and shoulder pads – yuck). I always listen to her side of the story before reacting to situations that others might immediately punish. I made the decision to treat her as a human with feelings and opinions instead of just a child who knows nothing and can’t think for herself. I believe it is my job to guide my children to reach their full potential, but never dictate their path for them.
We have done everything together; my daughter and I. We have cried on each others shoulders, laughed at the dumbest things, had many mother-daughter days together (including skipping work and school every year on her birthday), always had each others backs, and 90% of the time we know what each other is thinking before we even speak.
She is not just my daughter, but also one of my closest friends. I have done this through love and support as well as never hiding what’s happening in my own life from her. I do not believe in the idea that we can become close later in life as my experiences have taught me very differently.
A few years ago, I had to have two emergency back surgeries within a couple of months. Before this, I used to LOVE to run. I would run for exercise as well as to clear my mind of my pains and struggles. I truly enjoyed it. However, when I had my second surgery, I was told I would probably never run again. It was devastating news, but over the past year, I have worked hard to prove them wrong.
I’ve spent a lot of time working out and trying to strengthen my body again. In doing so, I also started running again. Just a little, not too much to cause damage. I not only wanted to prove the doctors wrong, but I want to set a lesson for my children that I haven’t done well before. I want them to see that no matter what you are told, you always determine your own destiny.
What I didn’t expect was that when I started running these short races, my daughter would be right by my side. She and I have participated in many 5k races over the past year and it has been absolutely amazing. Getting up early together on a weekend isn’t always easy, but it is so worth it. As our feet are hitting the pavement, our bond is growing stronger. We talk, laugh, and push each other through every single mile and past the finish line.
We stick by each other until the end, even though she could clearly out-run me if she wanted too. We often end up laughing so hard at each other that we have to stop just to catch our breath. In many instances, after the race, we have even gotten lost trying to find our car. We may end up walking an extra three miles, but even though it can be frustrating, it’s often the best part of our race. Our conversations are never “normal,” but we treat those moments like it’s our last day together; we cherish and enjoy every single minute of it.
One thing we have learned throughout our many races together is that it’s always important for us to make sure we carry a bank card with us. I can’t tell you how many stores we have passed by when lost where we wanted to stop for a drink or food only to find out they didn’t take Apple pay! It’s frustrating, but we always laugh about it and keep going.
In one race, I learned that she didn’t know what jaywalking was as she was trying to get me to cross the road when the sign clearly said don’t go – haha! I haven’t let her live that one down yet! In another race, we ended up having to get a police officer to help us find our way back to the car. I’m sure they thought we were nuts because we were laughing hysterically and sitting on the intersection sidewalk with no idea which way to go. Running together has become one of our favorite things to do.
Words cannot express how thankful I am to have her in my life and how thankful I am that we have this beautiful bond we share. I didn’t have this with my own mother so I never knew just how amazing it could be. My daughter can read me just by the expression on my face. She knows when I am hurting, she knows when I need a break, and she knows just how much I love her.
We dance and sing together in the car, she’s not afraid to introduce me to her friends, she loves taking selfies with me, and she encourages me every day of my life to love myself as I am because I am beautiful to her. She even has thumbprint access to my phone and we share an Amazon account. This is an example of how much trust I have in her.
I know there is absolutely nothing perfect about me, but with God’s help, I made the perfect daughter and I can say with absolute certainty that our bond is unbreakable. It’s based on trust and respect. My parenting style isn’t for all, but it has worked well for me. My advice is to do what works for you and remember not all children are the same, but they are human beings with feelings and opinions.
Listen before reacting and guide but don’t dictate is my motto. Creating an unbreakable bond with your daughter takes time and consistency, but it’s worth it.