Leading Parallel Lives: Are A Mother & Daughter Really Walking on Different Paths?

 

FOF Diane Danvers Simmons helps women embrace new chapters in their lives by using three guiding principles: Own your Power, Feel your Spirit, & Live your Life the way you choose, with Wit and Wisdom. She wrote this essay four years ago, upon realizing that she and her 17-year-old daughter weren’t traveling on paths quite so different as we generally think.

She’s in the last stage of puberty; I’m menopausal.
She’s experiencing the throes of first love;
I’ve been thrown by love. She’s finding herself; I’m rediscovering myself. Two perspectives, one special relationship, and, to top it all, she’s stealing my
clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

The differences and similarities are uncanny, and more than enough to test any good woman on either end of the spectrum. While she’s bent over in pain, hugging a hot water bottle and sobbing over her cracked baby eggcup, I’m pulling off my clothes, stepping into a cold shower and weeping over the heel she just broke on my new red stilettos.

Tissues, self-help books, exercise, journals, chick flicks, wine and chocolate are all imperative at this time for both of us, and that’s just the starter kit. Round two: meditation and yoga, both of us lying on our backs with our legs in the air, to get the blood back into our brains, calm the nerves, and give us a whole new perspective on any situation. A cup of tea helps to seal the euphoric moment.

Both of us are coping with a set of new dynamics as women. I’ve had to own up to my choices, respect that she’s becoming a young woman, and she’s now more than just my daughter. She’s learning to respect me as a woman with feelings, desires and dreams, too. Both of us are stepping into uncharted territory, even if my stilettos are more worn out than hers!

She looks to the stars and thinks, “The world is my oyster.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘Enough of the oyster, now where’s the damn pearl?’ The truth is, I have a treasure chest of pearls, glistening with wisdom, many of which I will pass on to her. But the true beauty of living life now lies in the fact that there are so many more pearls waiting for both of us to discover!

Teaching Her About
My 4 Friend Categories

We both need to conjure up the power of “S”: Spiritual, strong, sensitive, soulful, sassy, smart, and ultimately support. And by support, I don’t mean a good bra, even though that is critical in my case.

She’s working to stay in shape, and I’m working to keep my shape. Daily desserts are banned; however, the chocolate stash remains sacred.

As she works out the good from the bad, I’ve thrown out the bad and I’m focusing on the good. Friendships are as important as the water we drink, and time with your real “sisterhood” of friends is immensely important. I’m trying to teach her my approach to the four friend categories:

  • The friend who’ll have your back and carry you home after the party, whether you’re happy, sad, mad, or simply unable to string two words together.
  • The friend who is so much fun at the party, but just can’t help herself and doesn’t understand that it’s simply not cool to try and steal your boyfriend.
  • The friend who’s only being nice to you because she wants to be seen at the party and gossip about you later.
  • The friend you met on vacation, with whom you solved world peace over wine or lemonade, and wish lived nearby so she could come to the party.

Take care of number 1, enjoy, but beware of number 2, don’t waste your time on number 3, and see if you can cultivate number 4, even from a distance!

Asking The Same Questions
At 48 And At 18

She’s learning to love beyond herself and I’m learning the power of loving myself. We all want and need love, and it comes with the same breathless, heart-thumping excitement whether we’re 18 or 48. However, with a bit of wit and wisdom, hopefully by 48, we’re better at telling the scoundrel from the prince and feeling confident in our intuition. “Love,” however is another article unto itself!

She’s preparing to leave the coop. I’m not sure where to start without her in my coop. She tests the boundaries with a razor-sharp tongue that has the answer to everything, while I choose my battles, knowing that neither of us has all the answers.

I wouldn’t have believed at 16 or 18 that I’d be looking at my life three decades later and asking the same questions: What do I do next? Who are the friends with whom I want to spend time? Does this person fulfill my idea of loving bliss? I’d thought it would all be smooth sailing at this point, with no major life decisions to be made. Truth is, I’m once again at the helm, choosing to change and expand my reality. I’ve shed the pressure of ‘I should’ and am once again embracing the optimism of, ‘I can’!

What I’ve realized in witnessing my daughter’s parallel life is that I’m among the lucky ones, as I head into a new chapter in my life. We see the world with all of its glorious shades of color. We know we deserve to be recognized for who we are, not for who and what people think we should be. We’re pushing the boundaries and testing the waters, just like we did in our teens.

As mothers we are the guides, nurturers and role models for our girls. We need to trust our instincts, show humility with grace and strength, remembering that we are the teachers. Love, mistakes, and especially forgiveness, don’t make us weak; they make us human and strong.

For mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news: Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious
mother-daughter bond.

On the road my daughter and I have traveled together, we’ve formed a loving connection and trust that no one can break it. As we both learn to Own, Feel and Live our own journeys, it’s great to know that along the way, we’ll also be sharing a glass of wine, a box of chocolates, conversations and memories that will endure in our hearts forever.

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