More than once my exasperated mother said, “Someday, I hope you have a daughter just like you.”
I always wondered if such words were a veiled threat—or an unspoken confession. Maybe she was just like her mother. Was that a bad thing, to see ourselves in our daughters? to see our mothers in us?
When I gave birth to my Lilly, a new question arose: If she was just like me, would that make loving her easier or harder? Would we get along or always be at odds? Would life with Lilly be fun or a fiasco?
I discovered the answer when she turned five.
For Lilly’s birthday, I used a bunch of frequent flyer miles and arranged a trip to Disney, just the two of us. She talked of nothing else for weeks. I was excited, too, but a bit apprehensive about traveling with my ultra picky, slightly prickly, very-much-like-me daughter.
Ready or not, the Big Day came, and away to the airport we went.
Lilly got off to a great start. She flirted with the pilot, entertained the passengers, and carried on a non-stop conversation with her stuffed pony, Brownie, who always got the window seat. We spent our first afternoon in Orlando at Sea World, where my animal lover was beside herself with joy, watching Shamu and friends leap and splash.
The next day, however, dawned gray and rainy, as Lilly and I put on our special new Disney outfits. Really, Lord? Rain, today? There were no ponchos to be found, so a little fold-up umbrella was all we had between us and the Florida monsoon.
If I was worried that all the rain would dampen my daughter’s enthusiasm—and I was—I hadn’t counted on her amazing ability to go with the watery flow. Even in her wet clothes and soggy sneakers, she looked up at me, eyes sparkling, and said, “Mom, aren’t we having a great time?”
Yes, we were—thanks to her.
When the sun appeared right before Mickey’s three o’clock parade, Lilly wiggled and charmed her way up front to take it all in. I watched her shout with glee as the band came by, and felt a tear slip down my cheek. That pixie! So full of joy, such an unflagging spirit.
I knew she’d inherited a few of my less-than-lovely traits. Might some of her good qualities rub off on me? Please, Lord?
That evening, fresh from the tub and dressed in her cotton pajamas, Lilly fell asleep in my arms the moment we curled up to watch a movie. I glanced at the screen, but mostly, I watched Lilly.
Mother Love poured over me like rain. Not because Lilly is adorable (though, of course, she is). At that precise moment, I fell in love with everything about my daughter, embracing all the ways we are different and all the ways we are the same.
While we “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV), our children teach us too. Humility. Gratitude. Acceptance. And joy.
For her college graduation present, Lilly wanted one thing: another visit to Disney with Mom. Instead of a rainy day in April, this time it was a cold and snowy day in December. Lilly was as exuberant as ever, sporting pink Minnie ears and a never-mind-the-weather attitude. Some things (thank you, Lord) never change.
I loved her as a child. I loved her as teenager (honest). And I love her now as a young woman. If a friend announces she’s expecting a girl, I speak these words and mean them: “I hope you have a daughter just like you.”Leave a Comment