WHITNEY CAIN, PHD

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My Daughter in Me

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This parenting thing isn’t for sissies.  The struggles and joys my children offer are as different as they are, but my eldest and I seem to have the lion’s portion of shared challenges.  Both of us can be too eager to please and our shame is on a hair-trigger.  These tendencies pull us away from our best selves and, occasionally, from one another.   

Knowing this about myself hasn’t helped me nearly as much as I had hoped it would when it comes to my mini-me.  There are times when knowing how her brain ticks gets mine ticking in her favor.  Then I can help her see room for growth versus evidence of unworthiness.  Or I can encourage her to use authenticity versus persona to build connection. 

Too many other times, though, knowing what’s happening in her head doesn’t give me one single advantage.  Then all I can do is cross my fingers on the sidelines while she swings too freely between questioning her competence and inflating it.

To be fair, the outside world thinks my girl has the world by the tail.  People see her as confident, wise, and unique.  And she is.  But, she’s the other stuff, too.  Like most of us, she has lots of sides and though some seem contradictory, they sit right alongside one another. 

On the other hand, maybe I am projecting too much of my own stuff onto her.  Maybe my worries are just that – my worries.  Goodness I hope that’s the case. 

Regardless, I remind myself I got through my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood to arrive at a (generally) functional middle adulthood.  I find joy and connection regularly and, by my estimate, that’s more than something.  When my wiser self can get a word in edgewise, she reminds my worried self of that.  I just hope all those snapchats my girl’s been sending really do disappear.

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Photo from November 2011

Whitney Cain