I’d like to introduce to you one of my vulnerabilities… My eight year old daughter, Simone. Aside from the fact that children are resilient and don’t have the same build-up of defeat as adults do; she is here to stamp her mark on the world, regardless of the obstacles that get in her way. I admire her sense of gusto and how she constantly amazes me by living life on her own terms. If I hadn’t heard it from my midwife when she was born, “This one can take care of herself,” I would have questioned Simone’s choice of me as her Mother. I learned the moment I held her in my arms for the first time, that we hit the ground running, and It’s my job to get out of the way while loving her through the scrapes and brambles.
She’s not bravado all the time, and what I’ve come to understand is that underneath her rugged veneer, is a sensitive and loving human being. I get a glimpse of this whenever we speak on the phone and her voice sounds so childlike, innocent and sweet; or when she’s helping a friend half her age with tender encouragement on the monkey bars. Lately, my favorite moments are when I read the stories she writes at school. One in particular said, “I love my life and I love me but the thing I love most of all is my personality and I never want anyone to take it away from me.” I felt relieved that she’s brewing an inner confidence and amazed she spelled personality correctly.
I created French Woman Camping from a need to not only honor my own resilience, but also to provide solutions for a global problem; the epidemic task of Women and Mothers rebuilding their lives after loss. If you peek into the innate essence of womanhood, you know we’re multi-taskers, loving ambassadors and strength builders, to name a few. However, when faced with challenges beyond our reach, we find out the Real Woman we’re made of and the choice of being destroyed or empowered that comes along with it.
I have been intentionally keeping Simone at a distance from writing too much about her, because I’ve felt worried by sharing her life publicly. I’ve felt like a Lioness when it comes to her and have kept protective watch over the transition through divorce. It’s brought me to the crossroads earlier than I would have liked in spreading her wings without me; but necessary by default when she’s visiting another household. The ability to let go, only resides in trusting that she is loved by both parents. Introducing her and telling you her name is my attempt at giving you a glimpse into our lives and how we are finding renewal. The fact of the matter is, she is a brave and brilliant girl who is finding her way in life; just like the rest of us, and I have the privilege of being her Mother.
Consequently, when storm clouds hit our relationship and we have a stand-off, I’ve learned to ride the wave into shore as best I can; trusting we’ll find new breath after the sputtering, choking and drowning subside. The other day, we had one of those moments where she slammed the door to the backyard, and I was left in a meltdown of my own. It was hot, the AC wasn’t working well, and it had been a long day. When I dried my puffy eyes, I went outside and said, “Would you like to go swimming?” She looked at me and then said, “I’m sorry Mommy.” I was surprised to hear those words as I scooped her up in my arms and said, “I’m sorry too, and I love you.” She said, “I love you too,” and the words opened our hearts.
As Divinity would have it, we are a team that has come together to navigate the awkward and humbling terrain of the Mother and Daughter duality dance. Somehow she and I manage to let all the anger out and still know that no matter what, we always live stronger in our hearts and the “do-over” moments bring us closer.