Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mothers and Daughters...a Man's Perpective

So, here'e the deal, I'm not a Mom and I'm not a daughter; as a matter of fact, I don't have any sisters, so I didn't even grow up around daughters. I do have a daughter now and there literally isn't anything I wouldn't do for her. But the other day, at my work (I sell cute dresses and cookie jars and stuff) a mother and daughter came in.  That's not that interesting, mothers and daughters come in a lot, and this trip was not anything out of the ordinary; I think they were buying a graduation dress, so that should give you a context for age.  They were sharing a fitting room (no big deal) and the associates (two of them) were scurrying around finding the cutest dresses or cookie jars or what ever they wanted.  As the visit went on I started to notice a pattern in our dress searching...

"She's got a large rib cage so she needs a size 8."

"She doesn't really like to show the top parts of her arms so she'll need sleeves."

"Her chest is overdeveloped so we'll want to minimize that area."

A few things to note here:

One, the daughter was MAYBE a size 4, but probably a 2.

Two, The daughter didn't speak once. As far as I heard, not once.

Three, the Mother was a very nice lady.  She was not being "That" kind of mom.  She really did think she had her daughter's best interest at heart.  That's why I noticed it, she wasn't being a "B word", she was being thoughtful and they were out buying the daughter a graduation dress (which, I might add, would have a full-blown maroon tent over it, so what does it matter if her overdeveloped chest is minimized?!) and they both seemed like they were having a good time.  Really, both of them! Though, I will say, it really affected the two associates who were helping them. Each one, on their own, came to me and asked me to pop by the fitting room and let this daughter know how great she looked.  Which I did and I didn't even have to embellish, she was real cute, though, even some guy like me could tell, she didn't know it.  Somehow this cute girl with a nice mom grew up knowing several things about herself, (Me = Large Rib Cage, Hide the Top of My Arms, Too Big Boobs (or Two, I suppose)) but not the one true thing, she's cute.  She was one of the cute girls.

Maybe I'm reading a lot into one afternoon.  Maybe it was an off day.  Maybe the daughter had just yelled at her mom in J Crew that she didn't like her arms, boobs, or rib cage and if she has to bring it up again she's going home.  Daughters are not blameless.  I could easily write a post about the abused mothers that come into my store.  But, as I said, it was the two associates who got me thinking.

One of them said to me, "You know, daughters hear every word their mothers say.  Some buy into it more then others, but we all hear every word."

I tried to say it was the same for fathers, but they would have none of it.

"It's not the same for fathers, or even boys, it's all different from what other girls think...starting with their mother."

I guess that's what brought me here.  I genuinely don't like to find out I have less power over my kids than other people...even my wife.  But no matter how I try to teach my daughter that she is a smart, clever, funny, thoughtful, kind, straight up amazing girl, if she doesn't buy it from her mother, she will never buy it.

My daughter is lucky and my wife does such an amazing job, but, then again, this mother in the fitting room would die if she knew this post was about her. She really did appear to have good relationship with her daughter, aside from the passive abuse, but they were out together and they would talk to each other inside the fitting room. But growing a self esteem is not something that can be checked off in an afternoon or really ever finished, it's consistant stance that doesn't chip away or tamp down or hold back.  It's can't be faked and it won't be easily won, so let this be a reminder to all you mothers of daughters out there (and there are a lot of you) when she sees herself, she first looks through your eyes.  

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