My voice is small and meek. In restaurants, waiters and waitresses don't hear my quiet plea for napkins. I usually have to repeat myself during a conversation. Even in my own home, I'm the last person anyone hears. It's frustrating to constantly try to get people to listen to me, especially when I need them to hear me the most. My daughter reminds me that my voice always matters, though. Being a mom means seeing myself through other people's eyes, and it's in my daughter's eyes that I have found my voice.
My almost 11-year-old daughter has so many traits I simply lack. She's bold when I'm cautious, fierce when I'm terrified, and confident when I'm insecure. It's as though she has known how important her voice, is and how far it can carry, since the day she was born. As she grows older and more mature, I've become acutely aware of just how important it is for me to not only teach her how to use her voice for good, but how to set an example by using my voice, too. I want to show her how to walk tall, to speak up for herself, and to never put herself down, even when it's difficult for me to do the same.
In a way, my daughter is teaching me just as much as I am teaching her. With her own fierce, unapologetic, confident voice, I am learning how to speak up, speak out, and be the light that can guide my daughter into adulthood. With that in mind, here are just some of the ways my strong, self-assured girl reminds me that my voice matters. It always has, and it always will.
By Listening When I Speak
I don't talk a lot throughout the course of a day. I work from home, my voice silenced by the sound of my fingers frantically pounding atop my keyboard. As a result my thoughts tend to pile up, so by the time my kids are home from school and my partner returns from work, I'm desperate to be heard. It doesn't matter if I have nothing important to say, either. I need to feel as though my voice matters. That I matter.
Most of the time it's my daughter waiting to hear what I have to say.
By Encouraging Me
I try to be conscious of my insecurities so I don't dwell on them when my kids are watching (and trust me, they're always watching). Being a writer by trade means constantly having to fight off nagging feelings of self-doubt, though, and always wondering if my work will be well-received or the next victim of some vicious comment section. My self-esteem and confidence are fragile, especially since I've been a writer for over a decade.That's a lot of rejection, fear, and self-doubt.
My daughter is my constant, though. She has never, not once, stopped believing in me, and she's always right there to remind me that when I think I can't do something, I can. She challenges me to rise up, speak out, and carry on.
By Asking The Right Questions
By daughter has never been afraid to ask tough questions. Whether it's about politics, religion, or even how to use a tampon long before she'd ever need one (true story), she's always looking to me for answers.
By Thinking Of Me As A Leader
Though I'm not a follower by any means, I've never seen myself as a leader, either. I've stayed mostly cowered in a corner, alone, thinking that my voice wouldn't really make that big of a difference.
It makes a difference now that I'm a mom, though. My children need me to lead them, so I have no choice but to walk out of the shadows of that corner I have grew accustomed to, so I can help lead my children into the world as capable, confident adults.
By Silencing The Critics
There's always going to be naysayers in life. Knowing that I can't please everyone doesn't make criticism easy to handle, though. In fact, so many of those critics have managed to silence me when I should have been at my loudest.
My daughter won't have any of it, though. If I'm speaking and others talk over me, she shuts them down and hands me the floor. If I have something to say and I appear too scared to say it, she looks at me with her big eyes, reminding me it's OK to not only have opinions, but to express them.
By Asking For My Opinion
It's not often anyone asks for my input. My children do, though. When they look at me they see someone who knows what she's doing, even if I'm clueless half the time. So when my daughter asks for my opinion, I know she honestly cares about what I have to say.
By Daring To Dream
My little girl wants to change the world, and she wants me to change it with her. While I've always been one to rescue a stray cat or donate to charities, I wasn't one to be on the front lines of a protest or go that extra mile. It's not because I didn't want to, I just honestly thought I couldn't make a difference.
My courageous daughter reminds me every day that my voice, and actions, matter. Always. And that maybe, I can can be courageous, too.
By Being Herself
There's no question that my daughter's been one of the greatest influencers of my evolution. By just being her badass self, she's teaching me that I'm much stronger than I think I am. She's reminding me that I am important, and so is my voice.