I don’t have a daughter but my mom does. In fact she has two, and those two are as different as night and day from the outside. Maybe from the inside they are a bit more alike than either one of them wants to admit.
One of them is a bit stubborn. If you ask the spouse of the other one, he might say the same thing about her. Too stubborn to give up on the idea that the world can be changed with the power of love and kindness and tenderness and the willingness to learn new things from new people about the world and the people in it. Too stubborn to give up on the possibility that what happens in the world is a result of human decisions and God is there in the midst of the consequences to walk with us, call our best strengths from us to face the struggle, call the best joy from us to bring laughter in the midst of tears, and call the deepest hope from us to keep on trying when failure may have brought us to our knees. Yes, they’re actually both a bit stubborn.
One of them has a passion for music and poetry and education. If you ask the former piano lesson and fourth grade students of the other one they might say the same thing about her. A passion for what music brings to the intellect, the spirit, and the development of understanding of beauty in a primarily utilitarian-weighted view of the world. A passion for how poetry can lift that which struggles for words into a consciousness that approaches faith and trust with a few carefully chosen words that move directly to the heart and spirit through the window of the mind. A passion for education that is, and is more than, intellect. An education that reaches the whole of a person in creating an environment for wisdom to accompany facts, for compassion to accompany doctrine, and for perspective to accompany judgment. Yes, they’re actually both a bit passionate about music and poetry and education.
One of them is a bit strongly opinionated. If you ask the sons of the other one (and probably the spouses and grandsons as well) they might say the same thing about her. Strong opinions about the responsibility to create environments for children to grow and learn and be loved into understanding that sometimes the answer no when they want a yes is the best love of all. Strong opinions about working hard, building community, and attending to details with a bit of an obsessive nature that can get on the last nerve of those around them. Strong opinions about striving for excellence in a world seemingly all too willing to settle for mediocrity. They do share a weakness in a perfectionism that sometimes seeps into the soul when anything less seems less than enough. They’re actually both sometimes limited in receiving the gift of the present moment when the need to be perfect overwhelms the grace of divine acceptance. Yes, they’re both pretty strongly opinionated.
I don’t have a daughter, my mom and dad have two, can you imagine? As different as night and day and as similar as we might not want to admit. Daughters that fought like cats and dogs, and giggled through the night when their Grandma came and they had to share the same room. Daughters that grew up and moved away and became ordained clergy, and stayed on the farm and married and raised two sons. Daughters that still don’t always agree and who sometimes still sit at the piano and play duets and laugh til they cry and accuse each other of not being able to stay on the beat and insist that their part is harder no matter what part they’re playing. Daughters who have lived very different lives and to this day will defend each other’s right to be wrong against anyone who would dare impugn the other’s integrity or character. Daughters of parents who raised them each to think for themselves, be strong and independent (they may regret that part a little bit) and still pray the two will stick together through thick and thin because family is family and sisters are, well, sisters.
I don’t have a daughter, neither does my sister. Perhaps we’re more alike than we like to admit. Maybe don’t tell my mother’s other daughter this, but I still admire her more than she will ever know, AND she’ll always be older than me.