When my girl was a baby, I couldn’t wait to see her in a tutu. Graceful on stage beneath twirls of glittery tulle. Or strutting across a padded mat, tumbling about in a sparkling leotard. I always wanted to be a dancer or a gymnast, and I was thrilled to watch my four-year-old own it on those floors.
But it wasn’t what she wanted.
When she took the stage at her first recital, she followed the instructor’s cues, but I could see the Wild of her tiny being restless under the trained steps. In her gymnastics showcase, I watched her eyeing the climbing rope and holding herself firm in line when her little feet wanted to carry her to something with a different challenge. She couldn’t feel herself shine under those lights.
At six, she traded in her leotard and ballet flats for athletic shorts and cleats. She took up basketball and soccer. She left my dreams of a tiny dancer in the dust of a court and field athlete. And while I was sad, I was damn proud. She kills it on that court and runs that field.
This girl is strong.
I am not saying that she is strong because she chose competitive ball over gymnastics and dance. Those sports take some serious strength. She is strong because while her mother wanted one thing, she knew well where she belonged.
Strength is not in what you chose to do, it’s understanding that choice is yours. This goes to the very core of raising a strong girl. Knowing that no matter what is put in front of her, she has a choice. It’s making a decision for herself even when the most influential person in her life is guiding her down another path.
My girl can still hold a strong handstand. She can move to music with incredible rhythm. Maybe someday she’ll decide to return to those practices. But for now, she’s in her element taking on the ball and running with her team. She’s fierce and determined. She’s thriving because she knows herself better than anyone else. She owns her decisions. She owns her choices. And the beauty of it all is that she knows she will always have the choice to be whatever she wants, on and off the field.
A strong girl is born of a strong mind.
Let her choose. Always. Because more times than not, she knows which lights will show off her shine.
Stay Wild, my strong child.