Last week my daughter found out the authors of a book she was interested in were going to be at Town Hall here in the city, giving a talk about their book. She realized this the morning of the event, bought a ticket and attended the show.  Completely by herself. No friends, no me…just herself.

At 16, there was no way I would ever attend an event by myself.  My first thought would be “What kind of loser will people think I am because I’m at this alone?” I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the event.  I would have sat home.

But that sort of summed up my childhood…sitting home alone, too afraid to try anything.  Too afraid of how people would perceive me. I cared so much about what others thought of me.

I guess you know that’s changed.

Nowadays- I really don’t care what others think of me.  I speak my mind, wear what I want, do what I want. And I can’t help but wonder if this is why my daughter has the courage to try- to go out of her comfort zone. Maybe there is something to this actions speak louder than words….

See, when I was growing up my Mom was great at the “You can do anything” speech. Except when it was something my sister or I wanted to do. Then she would say “Why do you want to do that?” My Mother had conceived notions as to what was acceptable behavior, and what were acceptable pastimes. She had very strict codes of conduct that we were supposed to follow.

But my Mother is also the Queen of actually not doing anything.  My Mother has two hobbies: shopping and “discussing” politics. She actually DVR’s home shopping network.  And to say she discusses anything, let alone politics, would be an injustice to the definition of discuss.

My Mother has also never gone out of her comfort zone.  Ever.  I am 78% scaredy cat because my Mother’s innate fear of everything is so ingrained in me and I don’t think I can afford to spend that much money on therapy. So I grew up with my Mother telling me exactly what I should and should not do- what I was allowed to do, and what I was not allowed to do.

And it took me a long time to get out of my comfort zone.

When I finally had a child, I knew I did not want her to grow up with a sense of fear that was part of my DNA.  I knew I had to tell her she could do anything. But I also had to show her that I was willing to go out of my comfort zone. (well- a little, because we all know I hyperventilated climbing the steps of a lighthouse) I had to show her that I am willing to speak my mind about anything, take intellectual risks, go places alone if I am interested in something that no one else is.

Maybe it worked.

I will not take all the credit for her confidence. I actually don’t know what you’re born with and what you take on. (for the record I’m not getting into the nature/nurture today) But I do know that my daughter has a confidence that I just don’t have. My Husband, her Father- well, he doesn’t have it either.

I took the risk of having a child. I took the risk of choosing a way to raise her. I took the risk of believing in the path that was in front of me. I was confident in my choices.

I guess my daughter was watching.

72 thoughts on “Going It Alone

  1. This is awesome. I also think in some ways, city kids who have exposure to things like this without needing to be driven everywhere constantly, are at an advantage. I actually used this argument to prove a point when my partner was so insistent in moving out to the boonies…I told him, look at how young our kids are now (13 and 11) and already they hop on a tram to get to x or y on their own. How will this work when we’re located miles away from anything?

    In terms of comfort zone, there is something to be said about showing and doing rather than just preaching. Way to go to your daughter. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Claudette, we left the city and live in the boonies. It’s very nice, BUT. My younger kids that were born out here are total country kids. I am a city girl . They don’t understand how to function in a city at all !

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I keep thinking, if we move now we’ll need more cars ..my son will want wheels at 16 and I will want him to have wheels…so yeah.

        You have perks too in the country we city folks don’t have, right?…I don’t know what the answer is. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Sorry, just seeing this. Yes, the perks are nice, less traffic and crime, beautiful country, no crowds in stores, lower taxes, small schools, mostly friendly people. But you’re right about cars! We have a fleet of them. Some negatives include, since we live on a street where everyone has acreage and there are few children, my children have no kids to play with and the street has no sidewalks for skateboards, bikes, even walking. Some people are not welcoming to newcomers. We’ve lived here since 2003 and are still considered newcomers. No museums or other things like that. Grocery stores are FAR away and not very big, the closest one is 11 miles but the better one is 35 miles, one way. It takes real effort to get involved as the communication is not the best about various activities. I still enjoy it , but sometimes I question it.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was watching a house hunters show the other day, and the couple picked the place an hours drive from a store and all I could think was for the live if god why do you want to be that far from a store!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. One reason I like living so far is because I used to go buy stuff as entertainment. I really hated that. Of course now all we have to do is buy stuff online! But I think the ‘one hour’ drive is kinda standard. People are willing to live that far from the big city, but not farther. I’m ready to move way, way away from any cities, but I don’t want to isolate my kids, so I will wait a little longer.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you! And I do agree about the city thing. My daughter doesn’t have to rely on me to get anywhere…she just goes. And it’s true…once you learn that self sufficiency at a young age it will give you a certain amount of confidence

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your daughter’s confidence comes from you. In today’s world, daughter’s tend to follow in their mother’s footsteps. Those of us that didn’t have good role model in our mothers, tend to be a better role model for our daughters.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I love that your daughter did that and I love that you did all you could to show her strength and courage even when you were afraid! Your example DOES make a difference! And your words. An encouraging word means so much, but without a real example, it’s just talk. I get that a lot in my life, people who talk big and do nothing. Thinking about my mom and your mom who are probably similar ages, I think they did the best they could. Maybe your mom didn’t have a good mentor. My mom had the blessing of a series of good mentors in her life that gradually made her stronger. My mom did the same with me, instilled fear, told me to be careful, shared her anxiety and made me afraid of what I thought was my ‘weakness and inability to do hard things’. But I know she was doing it because she wanted to protect me. She saw that I am a bit ADD and impulsive and not always the best at detecting danger. However, my mom is a badass who overcame so much. I’ve talked about her before. The older I got and the older she got, we both blossomed.( I did that same shit to my oldest son for the same reasons, but I have tried to repair that damage. He is doing well but has some baggage. ) Keep up the good work LA. Keep being a badass!! And high five to your daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I think you’re right. A kid has to have some sort of mentor that they can look to for guidance. No one can go it alone (even though you can do things alone) I know what you mean about our moms….I know my mom did the best she could…she didn’t know any better and thought she was protecting me. But the angst….

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a similar experience with my mom telling me we could be/do anything. She had wanted to be a scientist and was told girls can be science teachers.
    I think going places on your own is great and I’m glad she’s comfortable doing it. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’d love to take the credit, but I have no idea where it really comes from. I just know that I couldn’t do that at her age, and I know adults now who still wouldn’t go someplace alone

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You are victorious!!!! That’s marvelous! I’ve done a few things out of my comfort zone, but not many. Thankfully, John (NY born and bred) does many interesting things, and I ride on his coattails. What you have done for your daughter is nothing short of a miracle.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Whether it is nature or nurture, or probably a little of both, your daughter’s independence will take her far. I don’t think I would have done what she did at that age and my mother wasn’t a scaredy cat. My introverted self would have felt uncomfortable. Not so much anymore… but I’d prefer to go with others. Good for her!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m 63 and still have problems going places alone! I do, but there is a lot of internal dialogue going on the whole time. I am just realizing that I am an introvert and have been all along, I just thought I was shy. I’d be more worried about “something bad” happening to a 16 year old girl on her own in the city, but that probably stems from my living in the suburbs all my life and only hearing about the bad stuff that happens in the city. Living there is probably way different! Good for you and your daughter. My girls are able to go and do things by themselves, but I know that my youngest has some anxiety about it, doesn’t stop her though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My thought is, no place is safe. I’ve just given her all the adages about surviving in the city. Think of it like this…she take the subway or city bus to school every day

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I STILL don’t like to do things on my own. The older I get, the worse I am. BG seems like this won’t be an issue for her, but for MC? Oh, that boy is way too much like me for my liking. And yes, like you, my mother had a huge impact on why I am they way I am. Congrats to you and your daughter for getting past that.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What an amazing daughter you have! I think you can take credit for her self-confidence and ability to go on her own because you’ve instilled that in her – even though you’re saying you didn’t have it instilled in you by your mom during your childhood. I’m so proud of her! And good for you and your hubby to have raised such a daughter! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  10. However much she is exercising her own ‘bravery’ she didn’t grow up in a vacuum. That’s you.
    Perhaps by teaching her how to make decisions, you showed her you trust her to make her own decisions…?
    My girls are more ballsy than I’ve been in my life. Perhaps it’s just inspiring to have a mom that is at least part bad ass…?
    Brava to her and to you! You’re doing it together and it sure sounds like you’re doing it well! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a brave young lady your daughter is! You should pat yourself on the back for giving her the courage to be confident enough in herself to make such positive choices. The fact that she does not need anyone else around to enjoy an event is incredibly mature. That tells me that she has been raised to explore her interests and feel self assured enough in who she is, to follow through on what she enjoys doing and on her decisions. I think that is fabulous!

    At 16 I went to see Bob Dylan in concert but I went with my best friend. I would have never gone by myself. I don;t know that I did much of anything without my gal pals growing up.
    Yes, she may have a spunky spirit, but you obviously have modeled independence and self assurance for her. Girls watch their mothers and emulate their actions. She saw how you behaved and she knew she could do those things too. So yeah, you had a lot to do with her actions.

    My mother was much like yours in that she instilled fear in me about going places. I realized as I got older her fear wasn’t that I couldn’t handle situations, but that she was worried something terrible would happen to me. She was incredibly over protective and tired to stop me from doing everything.That’s why I got married so young. I needed to some freedom and in 1969, marriage was the only way I felt I could travel and explore the world. I needed a husband in order to get permission to do things. Before then, I was told, “No, you can’t go because we don’t trust you!” I’d RESPOND, “How do you know you don’t trust me? You never let me go anywhere so you haven’t a clue how I’d behave.” To this day I don’t like doing things by myself. Oh sure, I enjoy shopping by myself or running errands or going to book stores by myself. But, I don’t go out to lunch by myself. I feel awkward. I don’t go to the movies by myself either. It just feels weird.

    Now, I love being alone at home. I’m always busy and I have no problem taking classes on my own, or going to exercise or lectures on my own, or even parties on my own. I’m good at that. I do go to political rallies on my own and went to hear Hillary speak on my own, but joined up with friends later. So, I am not afraid of going to things like that. But I won’t go to a restaurant on my own.

    So, yes, give yourself some credit. Your daughter has learned a great deal from you. We women get more independent and more courageous as we mature and so you have outgrown the fears you saw in your mother and shown your daughter that she can explore the world on her own and enrich herself all by herself. A rare quality in someone so young. I would be VERY proud of I were you. BRAVO to you both!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. I felt like was reading my own story when you spoke about your mother. I believe was had the same mother. I too got married the first time way too young because of things my mother said. Mine was also overprotective. It’s really a difficult thing to get over sometimes. Thanks for excellent comments and observations

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it is. I felt smothered by my mother. And she was always angry when I didn’t behave in the way she thought was appropriate. I was a good kid, but her fear of losing me or controlling me -whatever it was,certainly caused me to get married to gain distance and freedom. Ironic because I read her diary and as a young adult she was a pistol. You’d think she would have exercised more leniency having had a controlling mother herself. But nope, she was overpowering and dealt out Jewish guilt like a master!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok…Italian guilt in this corner! I have felt the same way about my mom….she is very controlling and even though I’m 54, she still tries to control my actions. Though there’s been a shift recently, but that’s going to be a future post because I’m still forming it in my brain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Jews and Italian moms are very similar in their controlling behavior. They get phd’s in overprotectiveness. It’s maddening. The guilt takes years to overcomes. All we can do is try to be more enlightened as parents. And it sounds as if you’ve done that based on your daughter’s actions. So high five, girlfriend. 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Good for you for managing to leave some of the behaviors and attitudes you were raised with behind. That’s not at all easy to do. But having kids does give us the courage to identify the places in our lives that we absolutely know we don’t want to pass on to our own kids, and therefore go to work on them in ourselves. Because you’re right, they are going to be watching us and noticing if we actually do what we say. I had to work through that sort of thing myself, with mixed results, I’m sure. But like you, I do look at my kids and feel a little bit of pride that maybe I did help them be more confident and self-accepting than I ever was. And I think the fact that we are still close now that they are adults is a good indicator that I got at least a little of it right.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As of now, my daughter and I have a much better relationship than my mother and I have. I try my best to raise her so that she gets the positive traits that I find important , but you know, it’s a roll of the dice. You start out with odds and finite possibilities, but you really don’t know what’s going to happen once the dice leave your hand…thanks! And good job!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think it’s a combination between nature and nurture. I’d say you had it in you since childhood but your upbringing kept it bottled up…. but that’s just what i think and i’m no psychiatrist. It’s great that confidence rubbed off on your kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This was a beautiful post. You remind me of my mother. Sometimes she seems so amazed at the things I do that I don’t even think think twice about. She definitely did tell me and show me that anything is possible even if she is a bit of an anxious couch potato nowadays lol. When we fight my dad is always reminding her how she taught me to be strong, independent and think for myself and we are just too similiar

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! And yes…my daughter and I butt heads quite often…but it’s actually a gift. I’m glad that she’s strong and independent and confident!

      Like

  15. I like the way that you inspire your daughter and your daughter inspires you. And in a reverse way, you were inspired by your mother to think seriously about trust and autonomy, and constructed yourself as a brave woman and a brave mother.

    Liked by 1 person

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