My daughter won't get that I was young once too - until she is old!
- Credit: Ruth Davies
I look at my eldest daughter who’s about to start high school and take great enjoyment watching her discovering for the first time things like fashion, music and, gulp... boys!
It’s incredible to see this lovely creature who was but her baby sister’s age a mere five minutes ago, looking so grown up, poised and ready for life.
A real privilege, frightening and wonderful all rolled into one. While I want her to stay tiny forever, my little girl, I’m also wowed at what a wonderful human being she is growing into and can’t wait to watch her flourish more.
I’m reminded of being her age myself which is lovely. Sometimes it almost feels like looking in a mirror.
I was far dafter without the internet at my fingertips (watching her experiment with make-up is less of an experiment and more a lesson on how to do it right after her many studious hours watching YouTube) but largely, things don’t change much and it doesn’t feel far behind me.
Looking into the future when young seems a long way off, something which will happen one day but not for such a long time it’s hardly worth thinking about and then, when looking back, you realise it actually goes in the blink of an eye.
An eye which now has crow’s feet to match the other lines on your face and yet feelings, who you are on the inside, stays the same.
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My dodgy knee tells me I’m not young like Florence and two glasses of wine can leave me useless for days confirming I’m not even young like I was just pre-kids but in my heart, I’m just the same as my daughter: bright, bushy-tailed and eager for life.
Not that she would ever imagine her mother as a young something. I’m told by her often that I don’t know, I don’t understand, I could never “get” what it’s all like for her…
She thinks, like we all did, that she’s the first person to discover Madonna. “Madonna,” she told me once “is this great singer from the 80s and 90s, you probably won’t have been into her." I could never have been cool enough you see.
She almost looked a bit sick when I explained I used to dance around the record player (she had a vague notion of what that was) to True Blue when I was much younger than even she is now. She’s definitely not keen on learning she didn’t get there first but then I probably wasn’t keen on learning that either.
Cyndi Lauper is another one of Florence’s finds on Spotify and as she sings Girls Just Wanna Have Fun at the top of her lungs in her bedroom it fills my heart with something good. She’s treading the same footsteps as me. Same, same but different too. She’s becoming grown up and I have the great honour of helping her along the way.
My best friend and I have known each other since we were Florence’s age and we still talk every single day.
Well, I say talk… we voice note when we have moments to snap shot our thoughts.
An actual conversation in real time doesn’t work for us busy mums now though years ago we’d have been hours on the phone every night, after hours spent together in the day, talking about such things as Madonna, Cyndi, Heather Shimmer lipstick.
We don’t have those hours anymore but we reminisce, daily, and every conversation in the present is also filled to the brim with the past.
We are made up of it after all, everything that went before has shaped the now. I tell Florence to soak up the time being young affords.
Don’t waste it worrying about how you look (she will) or fretting over silly boys (I know it’s all a rite of passage) and know you’re absolutely worth a million times more than you may believe in yourself today.
Because that’s another thing looking forward doesn’t get right, that you are absolutely great, just as you are in the here and now. It’s only when looking back you have that lightbulb moment of “Oh… Well that was wasted energy then”.
Being middle aged and past it in my daughter’s eyes means I might not “get” much but I “get” that. It’s almost like being born again with the beauty of life promising more brilliance to come. It means we absolutely can enjoy the here and now and take our own advice without being too wistful for the youth I don’t want Florence to waste.
She won’t listen or learn from me but I will tell it all regardless ready and accepting that she will dismiss my advice? In Florence’s eyes I may have been around for this 80s and 90s era she’s so fond of in sound and aesthetic, but I won’t have really been a part of it.
She won’t get that I was young once until she is old and that’s OK. I won’t wish time away so that she understands me.
The incredibly uncool, unknowing, misunderstanding person she believes me to be is just fine for now. I’ll take it with pleasure.
The most incredible part of mothering daughters, I see, is knowing them like you know yourselves, even when they don’t know that.
They don’t need to. That’s not what growing up is all about.
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk