Today, I took my five year old to her first day of summer camp. I was just as excited as she was to try this new adventure and to get a little summer time break from each other. I love her, but let’s face it, we all need a break. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
My daughter has never been shy. Never been the kid hugging my leg at the playground. If anything, I would say she is overly friendly, which I always admired about her. No fear.
I always had trouble making friends because I was so terrified to talk to anyone and just assumed they would think I was weird (rightfully so, I’m kind of weird). But with her, I never once worried about her not making friends or kids not liking her. She’s outgoing and kind and funny. Who wouldn’t love to be her friend?
But today, I had to witness firsthand that not all kids share my love of her in your face personality. That, for some reason, not everyone is going to think she is endearing and wonderful, especially her peers.
I watched as she went up to another little girl in the group in her overly zealous way and tried to make a new friend. Her smile was so big as she got right in her face, introduced herself and asked if she wanted to be friends. I was proud of her being so bold, something I could’ve never done at that age.
You could tell by the look on the girl’s face she wasn’t used to someone invading her personal space like that and was uncomfortable at how forward she was being.
And then my heart broke as the little girl backed away from her and said she didn’t want to play, leaving my baby standing there alone. The beautiful smile I love so much replaced by confused tears as she came back to me deflated.
And I had to bite my tongue in that moment, because I was about to do something really awful. I was about to damage a special part of her that I truly admired with my own insecurities. I bit my tongue to stop myself from telling her to change who she was so other kids would like her, because that’s what I would’ve done.
As moms, we want to protect our little ones. We want everyone to love everything they are just as much as we do, and when that doesn’t happen, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts us more than it hurts them.
I wanted to tell her to play it cool, to not say hi to someone seventeen times and to let them come to her because she is worth it.
But it’s not my place to tell her those things, or to force her to be someone else just so people will like her. If I’m going to be a good mother to her, I need to let her be. Let her figure these things out and maybe get a little hurt in the process.
Even though the mama bear in me wants to pull her in my arms and protect her from everything bad in the world, she needs to learn that not everyone is going to like her. That no matter how sweet and wonderful she may be, she will not be everyone’s cup of tea. And she needs to learn that that is perfectly okay.
That is a very hard lesson, one that I still haven’t learned at 36 years old. But one that will shape her into the kind of woman I wish I could be. Confident that who she is will always be enough for those who matter, and strong enough to not let it break her when someone doesn’t.
So, as I stared at my beautiful, fierce daughter, and fought the urge to try and change her for someone else, I just shut my mouth. I wanted to fix it and tell her it would be okay, and that she would make another friend who would like her for who she was. But I just smiled and shrugged my shoulders. And it was so hard.
She looked at me for a long moment, smiled back and ran off to find someone else to talk to.
And I hope it was the right thing to do.
I hope in that moment she didn’t think that her mom doesn’t care about her feelings.
I hope she will someday understand what my intentions were.
I hope she finds the wisdom in that moment to know that she is strong enough to move on when life turns it’s back and runs away.
And I really hope there is someone waiting who will love her like I do, just as loud and crazy and silly and weird as she is.
Because she is worth it…..