Our daughters will make the holy journey into womanhood whether we prepare them for it or not. And they will likely lose friends, favorite aunts, fathers and mothers along the way. Whether these core members of their DNA die, are emotionally unavailable, or up and leave, how do we help them process what they’ve lost as they are trying to find their way into this new skin of womanhood?
Maybe we start by giving them room to grieve – with compassion and humor and a good friend to help carry the load. So today’s post unpacks some of the behind-the-scenes of chapter 5 from Surprised by Motherhood.“ We read, “Two Funerals and a Baby Shower” in book club together this week and it is my love letter of hope to all the daughters who are trying to make sense of a world without a mom in it.
My mom died a week after my 18th birthday. She was sick from my 16th. What surprised me most was how embarrassing my grief was.
I was already awkward in my own skin – tall and gangly with bones where there should have been curves. Add a sick mother to all of this and sometimes a 16-year-old burns with a shy shame she doesn’t know how to put into words.
Sympathy can be awkward because what teenager wants to be put on the spot? There are relatives and well-meaning ladies from church who come over and try to teach you how to cook and keep house when all you want is for the tall blonde boy on the 50cc motorcycle to notice you.
Teachers either try to make excuses for your tardy homework or tell you that your “home problems” are no excuse for your annoying behavior in class. And still the cool girls flip their hair just so and you are tired of hearing about cancer and watching a parade of wigs as your mom’s hair falls out.
How does a daughter feel beautiful when the world she lives in is dying?
When there’s no time for shopping malls, skinny jeans or knee high boots – how does a daughter grow into her own skin when her mother is slowly disappearing out of hers? When people expect tears but consider temper tantrums impolite. How does a daughter find a way to exorcise her pain when punching walls is not something teenage girls are expected to do?
It doesn’t help to point out to them that young girls should smell fresh and beautiful when they’re sweating away their nights and days in a desperate inner wrestling match of worry. The deodorant can’t mask the dying that’s going on inside.
Daughters will grieve whether you give them room to or not and it will likely be un-pretty.