Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

It didn't really hit me until about 4 months after this photo was taken, that I had a daughter. Granted, I didn't know she was a girl until the minute after she was born. But I will always remember that day, watching her sleep, when I really truly allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to raise a daughter. I had a blank journal on my dresser; I grabbed it and a favorite pen, and began to write. All the things I wished I could tell her right then. About being a girl in a world that is often so unkind to girls. About finding beauty. About women in her life, some of whom she will never meet, who have a hand in who she will become.

I've kept writing in that journal whenever I can, and I keep one for my son as well, buoyed by the remembrance of a woman I know who lost her mother at a very young age. I told her about my journal once, and she told me how she would have loved to have a journal like that, written by her mother especially for her.

This weekend, I have had the chance to reflect on the unique relationship between mothers and daughters. It's something I completely take for granted, and I don't fully understand, this intense bond between a mother and her daughter; or a daughter and her mother for that matter. I know for certain it's unlike any other relationship we can have, and that if we are mindful it's one in which both mothers and daughters can grow and be blessed together.

I especially took to heart this weekend the words of M. Russell Ballard, an apostle in our church's highest leadership, in our general conference. In one part of his address on Saturday morning he spoke of how young women behave and become so much like their mothers, it's important to be a good example (or, as once was told to me, be the kind of woman you want her to become). He advised that when they are faced with an often hostile world, their mothers are their first line of defense. And that even if they don't seem to listen ... they are learning from us all the time. He quoted Emerson: "What you do speaks so loud, I cannot hear what you say."

My relationship with my daughter is very young, and even now it still overwhelms me sometimes. I draw encouragement from my own relationship with my mother. I don't remember a lot of her specific advice from when I was in her care (even though I'm sure it was offered plenty of times!). But I astonish myself with how often I remind myself of her. It's a good thing she's just the sort of woman I want to become.

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