Yesterday, a friend of mine relayed a comment made by a famous woman who's in the process of reinventing herself at midlife. The gist of it was that women need to let their daughters see them taking risks...and even see them fail (and of course, this goes for sons as well). The "gift" of failing, after you finish nursing your bruises, frees our most-loveds to fail themselves and learn that it's rarely fatal.
For anyone who knows me, it should go without saying that I'm not referring to heliskiing, mountaineering or deep-water scuba-type risks. I'm talking about starting that business, moving to another state (or country), living alone even though you're scared or lonely, giving so much that you're always living on the edge, going back to school...at 50.
I've always tended toward the orderly and predictable, preferring life to be on the neater side (if anyone had bothered to ask). But I'm also a very strong woman on a lot of levels. So why, then, do I want to show my daughter only the clean side, the pain-free side? Often, it's because I want her to feel safe, and that is a good thing...to a point. Because we live in an unsafe place where bad things happen to innocent people and longings go unanswered and people up and die, there's only so much safety I can provide. Do I want her to think well of me (by keeping everything neat and in control) or would I rather she think well of herself ("If Mom can do a face plant in life and keep going, so can I")?
The older I get, the freer I get, and the freer I get, the more I can share the real me with my girl. I'm less afraid of telling her the times I've been terrified; I'm no longer searching for the perfect answer, instead telling her I've often been unclear. This frees her to go through life wondering, questioning, marveling. Risking. The way we were wired. Life is indeed risky business--how are you living it?