As I pause and glance at my 12-year-old listening to her favorite song and singing away to it at the top of her voice oblivious to her surroundings, I can’t help but realize the fact that my daughter is growing up. And sometimes growing up way too fast. A casual stroll down memory lane will often pop up an image of my daughter at the age of perhaps 3 or 4 listening to her favorite song and singing away to it without a care in the world. The songs and preferences have obviously changed with the passage of time but that innocence which I see there even now is something I would like to keep protected.
Tweens are perhaps stood at that juncture of life where they totter at times precariously poised between two thresholds of life. Having crossed out of the under 10’s and no longer wanting to be referred to as a small child and at the brink of the teenage years when life gradually begins to unfurl its wings and test the skies above and winds beneath.
There are so many changes taking place, that it is not surprising that their mind is often in a whirlwind, flummoxed with the strings that on the one hand pull irrevocably towards self-assertion and on the other still need the steady hand of a parent to guide their paths and seek reason within the chaos.
I will not deny that outbursts don’t happen at ours. They do. But I’ve realised that it is equally if not more important for me to keep my responses and emotions in check as I try to gather what lies behind the occasional defiance.
These are the years when the invisible umbilical cord has started to stretch and loosen a bit and my child has started to take her first steps into the foray of adulthood.
There are many aspects of their mindset and personas that now begin to emerge and grow and manifest as childhood slowly gives way and youth makes its way to the forefront.
My daughter has always had questions. If you look carefully at her picture on the day she was born, you’d perhaps look into those big brown eyes that seemed to ask us ‘What took you guys so long?’. Suffices to say that there has never been a shortfall in the number of questions in her repertoire. So, it was not surprising when she looked at me, one day and said, ‘Mamma, I was wondering…Am I really strong?’
I’ve always been an ardent advocate of having meaningful conversations with my children rather than brushing topics under the carpet. In our family we’ve always been strong proponents of airing out what’s on our hearts, what hangs heavy on our minds and what gnaws relentlessly.
I won’t bore you with all the details of what we talked about. Somethings are at this moment of time beyond her years and not entirely comprehendible by a twelve-year-old. Though I hope that this conversation shall build in her a strong sense of self belief and faith which I am sure shall in times to come hold her in good stead.
When we talk or use the word ‘strength’ we conjure up in our conscious and subconscious psyche a picture of being physically strong. Though the ramifications of curtailing the definition solely within the confines of physicality are many. And this solely single definition entrapped term often conjures up a very distorted and one-sided vision and version.
If we look up the meaning of the word strength, we shall also find that this eight-letter word simultaneously conveys the meaning of the ‘capacity or ability to withstand great pressure’.
In my conversation with my daughter that day, we spoke about a lot of things. However, amongst them what figured high up in the list and was given the spotlight of the moment was the fact that inner strength, mental strength and strength of character are the three pillars upon which the words ‘strength’ truly stands strong.
As a mother of three children, I am perhaps now more than ever before aware of the fact that my kids need to be strong in both body, mind and spirit.
With my daughter, fast growing up I realise that peer pressure plays and shall continue to play a very crucial role. For me and for her, it becomes imperative that she realizes that the illusive strength she talks about actually resides within her heart, mind and soul. Strength is not merely confined within the walls of physical prowess. The strength that uses its power to subdue and subjugate is not strength at all by any measure of yardstick. And this should firmly be embedded within her soul.
Strength, I told my daughter is the key that unlocks determination. And determination lays the founding stones of grit, resolution and conviction. And a combination of all these helps a person rise above the roller coaster life sometimes unexpectedly throws our way.
So yes, my daughter you are strong. Strong in so many infinite and sometimes intangible ways. Strong in your determination as you crunch your brows and concentrate. Strong when you refuse to give up. Strong when you help your friends out. Strong when you stand up for yourself and for them. Strong when you extend a hand of friendship to others.
And yes lest I forget immensely strong when you argue why you ‘absolutely need’ that new book!!