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    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    My Past Is Not Her Future

    A genuine, much-needed heartfelt talk with my good friend Deb* took place just after I posted what I posted eariler today. Deb, like me, grew up as "the loud girl", the recipient of more "can you lower your voice"s and "you are just too loud"s and "you could whisper through walls"s than most of you will ever understand. So she gets it. She gets why the comment I heard today stung despite its giver's best intentions. We talked about my fears that Samantha would be made to feel bad, and would be in part squelched as she grows into the person she will become, because she's boisterous, because she's got her volume stuck on high when she's excited. We know all too well how it feels to be reprimanded at the height of your excitement, and how that can affect how you feel about yourself.

    Then, as we laid it all out, and talked about how we came to feel badly about that part of ourselves for a time, something occurred to us.

    It doesn't have to be that way.

    Our parents' generation equated loud children as disruptive children, as unruly children, even as bad children, and our families conveyed that to us right along with the world who spent so much time "shushing" us. Who we were and how we felt about ourselves was, in part, defined by being knocked down emotionally when we were at our peaks, which is when we were also at our loudest by nature. Parents who succeeded in quieting their children might have felt victorious over ours who, despite their best efforts, never seemed to have much luck in shutting off the amplifiers inside us; but the more we talked about it, maybe it's a lesson we are proud to have not learned all that well.

    Maybe who we are, even when we are loud...even TOO loud , is really OK. And maybe that spirit, that inability to be still, to be quiet, to stuff our joy, is a good thing.

    And maybe we can pass that on to our daughters, rather than teaching them that it's always best to be figuratively posing for American Girl Magazine, to stuff what you feel, to suppress who you are, and that the only good manners are quiet, ladylike, muted ones.

    Maybe the world will do its best to quiet her, but I can choose NOT to stand in line with them, and NOT participate in admonishing her for who she is. Maybe I can choose to tell her that while we should try to not make things uncomfortable for other people, and we should let other people shine, too, that it's OK to be excited. It's OK to not be able to contain it. It's OK to love who you are, even if an adjective describing part of who you are is "LOUD".

    I have no doubt she WILL be the loudest one singing "Skinamarinkee-dinkee-dink..." tonight. And her daddy will be proud as punch while she does it, probably holding back tears at the enthusiastic, beautiful, smart young lady she is. And the more I think about it, the more I really hope he remembers to video tape the whole loud, boisterous beautiful thing, so I can be proud as punch, too.

    *Deb, I am grateful for you as always; and for the better moms we become every day because we can encourage and uplift one another, and have such immense impact on each other's families in such a beautiful, meaningful way. Thanks for your friendship, and for being a "loud girl" with me, and for loving my little "loud girl", too.

    5 comments:

    Missives From Suburbia said...

    It's the least I could do, given all you've done to prop me up over the past 24 hours (let's not even mention the past two years).

    I love that little girl of yours dearly, and when I see her, I see so much of you in her and so much of who I was as a little girl. The idea of stifling any of that magic and forcing her to spend 30 years figuring out that she's okay makes my heart crack wide open. She's a star, Cathy. Not everyone's going to get that, but it won't matter, because her mom and dad do.

    I can't wait to see the video! Her little performance for me tonight left tears in my eyes!

    Mamma said...

    This makes me think of the things I was reprimanded for by a parent. On the one hand I was told I could be a strong young woman and on the other I wasn't humble enough. It was confusing then and continues today.

    Very thought provoking.

    Blithe Revival said...

    All I can say is WOW.

    I was, and am, a LOUD girl. I have always made my presence known.

    I have also always been shamed for it by my mom. Quiet and demure is ladylike, I always heard that... followed with, 'you're not ladylike' or something like that.

    This post was incredibly refreshing for me to read. Thank you!

    herself75 said...

    I was a quiet kid - and believe me, that has its own share of problems!

    let her be her - and enjoy her.

    I know my boys are going to need loud, strong, smart women in their lives as they get older. a shrinking violet will completely wilt in their company! but then, we encourage them to go outside, be loud and get dirty! (I'd do the same if I had girls too!)

    Carrie said...

    {{hugs}} Cathy! I hope you don't take that "very loud" voiced comment too much to heart! She is a joyful, happy girl, that obviously must LOVE to sing. Nothing to be embarrassed about!!! Absolutely not!! Someone's gotta enjoy life! Right?! Good for her! Hope her dinner with daddy went great!

    ~from a mom with very LOUD kids, one of which LOVES to sing, but can't (haven't had the heart to tell her that yet :)