My little girl and I haven’t been vibing as of late. A lot of fussing and yelling has taken the place of usually polite and loving conversation. She has always alleged that I love her brother more, but I can assure y’all I don’t, but I make I still make a concerted effort to schedule mom and daughter time, pick up little things for her, etc.
Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I opened a checking account for both kids to get them to do their chores and keep us from spending millions of dollars in Robux. So now they have a list of chores. They do them begrudgingly, although I’ve found myself correcting Isla and fussing more about her not doing chores. And she called me on it. It’s not that I want to do Eli’s chores for him, I don’t, but as a first grader, I don’t think he’s capable of doing the same chores. Reasonable, right? But then I started mulling that I’m always harder on Isla. Not on purpose; I thought it was because she was older, I expect more, but now I’m thinking it’s because she’s a girl, and mothers are naturally harder on girls. Some mothers. I didn’t actually experience this with my own mother, but there were things she let my brother get away with that I couldn’t and vice versa. Seemed fair. But my mother was never, ever harder on me. If anything, it was the opposite. But my mother is perfection, and it’s difficult to duplicate. I have limitations.
So I decided to Google it because I was lacking personal experience. And yes, there were lots of articles on mothers being harder of their daughters. And even a study!
One article stated, “â€œParents treating their children differently is common in families, especially those with children from both genders. For example, mothers tend to have higher expectations from and be more critical of their daughters over their sons, according to a Netmums survey.
It went on to say that often mothers formed a stronger bond with their sons, and mothers were more likely to describe their girls as serious whereas they’d describe boys as “cheeky” and “loving.” The report warned that girls grow up with more self-critical issues, and suffer as a result.
Reading that was like a blow to the stomach. I in no way want her to suffer from me being too critical. I don’t want her to suffer from anything I do! That has been established in several of my columns. But just the other day, I asked her to help me with something when the “men of the house” quickly disappeared. She balked, and in frustration, I said that women just do more. They’re stronger, and they’re expected to do more at times and that it just wasn’t fair. I didn’t think too much about my comment until I saw the Barbie movie with my daughter and husband. I started crying the minute I heard this line: â€œWe mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.â€
Many have different interpretations of that, but I understand it that moms work so hard and are always moving forward, but eventually, moms have to let go of their daughter’s (or son’s) hand and let them live. Let them grow, and grow, and grow and grow. I also thought about how difficult it was for a woman to live in this patriarchal society.
I don’t think I treat her the way I do because I like my son more. Or that I don’t love her â€” that’s ridiculous. But maybe I’m trying to shape her, no doubt like my mom helped shape me, into a stronger person. A stronger woman. I want her to look at me and see a strong woman who battled severe depression and anxiety and an eating disorder, etc. I want her to have grit, to learn how to never give up. I want her to travel, to love herself, to be independent (as I am dependent on my husband).
I want her to be better than me.
But while I have good intentions, I should approach our feuds differently. She’s a wild, fierce being, and I know that sucks now because I’m raising her, but she has strength that I never did. She needs to learn how to be a good human, sure. But I could teach her how to be a good person and empowered woman in other ways. Looking back, that’s how I learned. Not with constant complaining and yelling. I need to provide a space for her to figure out who she is and wants to be.
Sounds like I could learn to be a stronger woman myself. And it’s lucky that she’s here to teach and shape me, too.