Friday, July 13, 2012

BEING BRAVE COMES WITH A PRICE


My granddaughter, Rylee, watching the movie, Brave
Pixar's new animated movie, Brave, is one of my favorite Disney movies next to Beauty and the Beast. Last Friday night my daughter, granddaughter, and I had an impromptu movie date to watch Brave because Rylee's been dying to see it. Ignorant of the premise of the movie I walked into the theater expecting another musical love story prevalent in Disney movies. 

I was surprised at the strong mother/daughter theme underlying the movie and grateful for zero song interruptions every five minutes. I love musicals but when the plot breaks out into song without ample dialogue time in between I feel as if an integral part of the story is lost. (I'm speaking for myself, obviously.)

The movie's mother/daughter relationship struggles impacted me more than the rest of the story. Merida's spunk in being true to herself warring against her mother's tireless efforts in ensuring Merida lives up to her expectations resonated within me. Princess Merida's fierce independent spirit chafes at the arranged marriage her mother forces upon her. It's the proverbial tug of war waged between mother and daughter; a futile battle of wills I've won and lost countless times with my kids. Merida, and her mother, Elinor, wield anger, pride, and obstinacy as weapons of annihilation. 

My days as a single mom raising daughters only ten months apart and feeling outnumbered in the faces of teen angst still haunt me. I allow those memories to keep me grounded in the lessons I've learned as a mother because it helps me to yield. My daughters and I have had major full-blown brawls similar to the one between Merida and Elinor. I'm certain my daughters would've consulted a witch to transform me into a bear if they had the choice. Thank God my supernatural metamorphosis wasn't necessary. 

What raising daughters taught me: 

To listen. Daughters need to be heard. They need to feel validated by moms despite the irrationality of their opinions. Yes, moms know best but not always. I had to come down from the pedestal I perched my butt on to hear my daughters' voices. 

To understand. Daughters need to be understood. They long to express their emotions (even if it's anger and rebellion) without judgment and criticism from moms.
 
To affirm. Daughters need words of affirmation to know they're valued and loved despite their shortcomings. 

To yield. Daughters need to know that their mothers' will is not iron clad. Mothers need to be malleable to their daughters because forcing rules upon them is like shoving the Bible down an atheist's throat. Yielding to daughters will aid in listening and understanding their hearts. This doesn't mean consequences aren't confronted after a broken rule. 

To forgive. Daughters need to hear that they are forgiven for their wrongdoings and loved nonetheless. For someone like me who wears pride like a medal of honor I struggle to forgive. Maybe my next tattoo should read "mend the bond torn by pride" as a daily reminder to forgive. 

To let go. Daughters need to make their own mistakes and learn from them. This was a difficult lesson to learn for a control freak like me. I had to reign my overprotective self as they matured into adulthood because daughters will always do what they want to do. Despite my repeated ominous warnings my middle daughter ended up a mom at 19 years old like me. Instead of fighting it I forgave, listened, yielded, and loved. 

To accept. Daughters require acceptance from their moms. To know that despite their deviation from our expectations and dreams they are accepted for who they are. It's imperative for them to know that in their moms' eyes their imperfections are perfect.  

To communicate. Underlying their sulking, tight-lipped, and errant behavior, daughters want to know that the lines of communication with mothers are open. On the days when I was exhausted and depleted open communication was a monumental feat. Now I sometimes cringe at what my adult daughters confide in me. It takes a firm resolve not to plug my ears and chant lalalalalalala to keep them from divulging too much info. The line between mother and daughter is really fine. 

To defend. Daughters always want their moms to defend and fight for them. One of their greatest desires is to know that they can count on their moms to be on their side of the ring. I defended my kids with a fierceness of a mama bear in all situations because this was lacking in m own upbringing. My parents always threw me under the bus. 

To believe. Daughters require their moms to believe in them and never give up even if their actions say otherwise. They may push and fight back but I've learned that it's a tactic teenagers use to confirm that their moms will remain steadfast by their side. 

Like Elinor and Merida I navigated through the winding roads of trial and error. But the lessons learned from those dark and traumatic days are as precious as gold. I marvel at how different my adult daughters are and respect them for the women they've become. I love that I've gained two friends in them and our quality time is mutually savored. I'm thankful for the season such as this. 

What about you mothers or daughters? What have you learned in your own relationships? If you saw the movie, Brave, what are your thoughts on Merida's behavior?