Monday, February 13, 2012

The Diva Train

Thanks to J I have been pretty much every kind of Mom out there…Dance Mom, Cheerleading Mom, Gymnastics Mom, Ice Skating Mom, Girl Scout Mom, (brief period of) Soccer Mom. . . etc. etc. etc. J has always been a girl with 1000 different activities.
Up until this year I have been pretty good at filtering activities J wanted to do. She wasn’t quite to the age of strongly voicing her opinions, so I was able to guide her away from things that I didn’t think were the best for her.  But, my headstrong daughter soon caught on to that and began to start voicing her opinions. She knows more about what she wants for herself at 5 than I do at 33.

So now we have entered the stage of her trying to take the wheel in the ride that is her life, and demoting me to riding shotgun. So far the ride has been fairly smooth, the Diva is pretty predictable about what she wants. But, recently we hit our first speed bump as J has a new obsession. J wants to do pageants.

Now I guarantee you that after you read this you made some sort of face. I’m not surprised, I mean the stereotypes of pageants are absolutely everywhere. And to be honest with you I actually share most of the popular voice’s opinions regarding the same.

But this is J, and she could care less what the popular voice thinks. She wants to do it and I noticed this was not a phase that was going away. My brain told me not to let her go down this path. I mean what will she do if she loses? What if they put a ton of makeup on her? Is this really good for her? So many thoughts filled my mind. Plus, okay I’ll be honest, I knew I would have to deal with a ton of “Pageant Mom” and “Jon Benet” comments.
But J was insistent. And for the first time J and I wanted to go in two different directions. I mean don’t get me wrong,  J is my world, I want to be her cheerleader, not her warden.  But I still am her mother. So do I do what my heart wants to do and stand by J as her loudest cheerleader, or do I take the wheel and turn her off this path??

So like any Mom, I overanalyzed the situation. What exactly was I “shielding” her from? Yes, I know the Toddlers & Tiaras stereotype of pageants. But I’ve known a lot of girls who did pageants and it was nothing like that. I realized after thinking about it that I was probably trying to shield her from disappointment or failure. I mean, come on, they pick one girl out of a zillion to win. And what will I do if, as the odds dictate will most likely happen, that girl is not J.

Then I thought back to my childhood. Not once did my mother ever stop me from doing something I wanted to do. Sure, I was not a girly girl like J so I never asked to be in a pageant, but I realized that no matter what I wanted to do my Mom supported me. I mean come on, my Mom drove in a snow storm when I was a freshmen in high school to take me to the Shedd Aquarium’s Career Days because I was certain that I was going to be a marine biologist. The idea of me in a science career where I can hardly even add was as crazy as the thought of J winning a national pageant title. But my Mom let me choose, and not once did she ever not support me. I want to be that Mom.

I realized that I was trying to shield my daughter from trying something new, simply because I was afraid that she would lose. What kind of message is that sending to her? That Mom is only going to get behind you if I know you can win? Certainly that is not how I wanted to parent.

So I made a decision to support J’s quest to be a pageant princess. But of course the lawyer in me treated this as a mediation, a settlement of sorts. I agreed J could do a pageant, but it had to be on my terms. Yes, I know that J would wear a face full of makeup and be spray tanned 365 days a year if I let her, but I insisted she would have to do a natural pageant. If J is going to be the beauty queen she wanted to be, I wanted to actually see her beauty. She agreed and I started to research pageants.  She had her first open call this weekend. She was on cloud nine.
One of my closest and most wisest friends joked with me one time telling me “You better get on the Diva Train before you get run over by it”. Even though it was lighthearted, she was exactly right. I’ve realized in J’s 5 years that she is who she is. And my job as her parent is to support her in whatever crazy adventures she wants to take me on. I was so proud of her that at 5 years old, she wasn’t scared to try something new. She walked off with the girls and did her interview without once looking unsure or scared like me.

So all aboard the Diva train….where it stops nobody knows…but I'm just so happy I have the privilege to ride along!


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