Today after my family finished dinner, something happened that made my whole world freeze.
I was clearing the table while my husband washed dishes, and around the circle of our kitchen island, my daughter was dancing. Demonstrating for no one in particular some of the most unique yet elegant moves I had ever seen, while singing “Scars to Your Beautiful” at the top of her lungs.
It was the kind of performance that would catch anyone’s eye, but for me as her mother, I was completely mesmerized.
I could feel her comfort in our home. The kind of ease you obtain when you feel no judgment and no cause for worry. The absolute joy you get from a safe space where you can be the best possible thing … you.
If someone from outside of our family had walked in, I could almost feel what her reaction would have been.
She would have stopped abruptly, flushed a bright crimson red, and walked away quickly. Her voice would have gone soft or non-existent, and those captivating dance moves would have been lost.
Essentially she would have stopped being her.
You see, my daughter can be unapologetically shy outside of our home. She is still navigating the world of new people and places, and more importantly, herself.
Her light sometimes dims when she senses the uneasy feeling of unfamiliarity, and it breaks my heart almost every time it happens. I struggle to want to help her, push her, make her break out of that shell and move towards the girl who dances in our kitchen with no regard. I want the world to see her and appreciate her just like I do.
Yet tonight while she dances, I have a simple moment of clarity.
I realize there is not much I can do to make her different. She is who she is, and that is (if you dig deep) all I really truly want. So my best option is to do just exactly what I am doing right now, and that’s simply nothing.
And by “nothing,” I don’t mean to leave her with no guidance or support. I mean “nothing” by letting her be herself no matter where she is or what she is doing.
If my daughter needs to navigate life cautiously, then I must allow her to come home to a place where she can throw caution to the wind.
I shouldn’t push her to show the world the girl I see at home until she’s ready to do it. My obligation is to provide a safe place at home for her to be that person, if that’s the only place in the world where she is able to do it.
I want more than anything for the world around us to change. We live in a scary society right now, which sometimes feels filled with hate. I fear for her future, and worry way too much about what life for her will be like in 20 years. I struggle with how to prepare my sweet girl for a world with so much uncertainty.
Yet when I sit back, I remember my only job is to love her and give her the safe haven she requires to figure it all out. If she needs to navigate life cautiously, then I must allow her to come home to a place where she can throw caution to the wind. I should also gently teach her that life may be hard, demanding, and cruel, but that when she walks through our front door, she will only find love, comfort, and acceptance.
And that no matter who she chooses to be or not be, her world will always fit with ours. Mistakes will be made and some choices will be the wrong ones, but she can always set yourself straight here with us.
I never want to see her be shy, scared or overwhelmed in my doors. I want her to sing and dance forever on the floors of my kitchen ’til they are worn and uneven.
Yet when I sit back, I remember my only job is to love her and give her the safe haven she requires to figure it all out.
I hope she always feels believed and brave here, and that her spark continues to grow in the comforts of our home. So that when she’s ready to share it, I will be too.
I need her to know that no matter what, she will always be accepted at one of the most important places there is – at home with me.