Just a regular day at the bank with JG until the bank lady traveled down a seemingly innocuous road of questions.
Upon hearing that JG was the only girl of the family and the youngest, the bank teller asked, “Do you like being the only girl?”
JG replied softly, “No, I always want a sister…and a Daddy, too.”
My first instinct was to shush her. But is that really my first instinct? Or is it my conditioned response after a lifetime of accepting that feelings are to be kept quietly hidden, neatly tucked away?
She, in that moment, simply stated what was in her heart. Her heaviest desire came spilling out of her with ease from a mind not yet conditioned to be embarrassed by what the heart feels. Would I rather her share it or stuff it? Perhaps in the sharing, it lost some of its sting in her mind. Perhaps in the sharing, it lost some of its grip around her sweet heart. Perhaps in the stuffing, I am blocking coolness from touching the hot spot of need that sometimes scorches many parts of who she is.
I, in that moment, wanted her to stuff it. But, why? Because of what the bank lady would think? No, that’s not it. I wanted her to stuff it because I could do nothing about it. I don’t want her to have needs and desires I cannot find a way to fulfill. I don’t want her to have pains and hurts I cannot find a way to fix. I wanted her to stuff it because that is what I had always done. Stuffing is familiar and gives me a false sense of wellness. I think I wanted that false sense of wellness for her, too.
I, in this moment, recognize that to want her to pretend to feel something she doesn’t for the sake of my own comfort is one of the most selfish emotions I have ever dipped into and wallowed around in. I love the simplicity with which she stated her most painful, unmet desire… the desire for the authentic love of and relationship with a man she can call Daddy. I applaud her for still being in that free place where life is what it is and she is not afraid to say so. I hope I never help to condition her mind that she is wrong in her freedom to speak what is in her heart to speak.
I hope one day she reads this and sees what a brave little girl she was and how much she helped me to grow into a mother that she can rely on, trust in…one that will only help her be who she is and not warp her into someone neither of us will recognize.
So, if she needs to share, I won’t force her to stuff it. If her desire overflows out of her grieving heart and she needs to speak it, I won’t teach her to feel embarrassed. If she feels the freedom to give voice to her lack, I will not force her to wear a cloak of false wellness. Today, and hopefully every day, I will shush the part of me that wants to shush her.