Hollie Grimaldi Flores: To my daughter on her birthday
My only daughter turns 22 today. Having a daughter is one of my greatest joys and nothing short of miraculous.
I have mentioned more than once that I did not plan to be a parent. I really didn’t think I was parenting material. I was living a completely self-absorbed and selfish life, complete with a narcissistic partner all through the 1980s.
So when I found myself unexpectedly pregnant in 1990 (the best surprise ever!), my life took an unexpected turn. And I knew immediately following the birth of my son that I did not want him to be an only child. I was certain only children grew up feeling isolated, would lack social skills, would surely be spoiled and would perpetuate a selfish self-absorbed existence. (No offense to all of you lonely “onlys” out there.)
Ironically, when the decision to try for another baby was made, there was no making one! It took well over a year before I got the news that another little one was on the way — and then, a few weeks later, was told the pregnancy would probably not go to term. I left the doctor’s office crying, praying, bargaining and negotiating for a miracle and I received one. The issue the doctor had diagnosed resolved itself. My daughter came into the world kicking and screaming. She had a demanding, strong will from the very start. A classic example of “be careful what you pray for, you just might get it.” She spent her youth keeping me on my toes. We would fight — her will versus my resolve. I learned to pick my battles. She learned she could wear me down.
I remember chasing her 2-year-old self across the lobby at a local dance performance and a stranger kindly saying something along the lines of, “while that strong will makes her difficult to raise, it will serve her well as a woman. It’s a balance, but you don’t want her to lose that spirit. She will need it later on.”
I thought of those words many, many times while raising her and I am happy to report we both survived — her determination still intact. We have a very strong bond and a very close relationship. She is a strong, beautiful, independent woman. She has a huge, generous heart, and a gentle soul. She is a loyal friend who puts others needs before her own, just the right amount of time. She has a love for adventure, is an explorer and is interested in helping others. She has already traveled to four continents and has only begun to determine her path. There is so much of life ahead for her.
A brief message to my daughter:
“On this anniversary of your birth, there are things to say. The first things that come to mind are thank you and I am sorry. Thank you for teaching me more about self reliance, confidence, determination, tenacity and possibility than I was ever able to teach you. Thank you for teaching me about a positive self-image. Thank you for showing me it’s okay to be my own priority. Thank you for letting me make mistakes.
“And I am sorry. I am sorry you live in a country that still puts women in second place and a world that treats women as a lesser class. I am sorry you will likely make less than your male counterpart for doing the same work. I am sorry you will still have to fight harder and work harder to garner credit and recognition for a job well done. I am sorry you are subject to harassment and I am sorry that ‘locker room banter’ is still an accepted part of our culture. I am sorry the world is not safe or fair or kind.”
Today I am so grateful for the strong-willed child I prayed into this world. I am grateful to have had the privilege of raising you and I am so proud to be your mother. I know the planet is better because you are on it. There is no doubt that sense of determination and strength of character you were born with will take you far and I am excited for all that is yet to be.”
And this I know. My daughter is not unique. The next generation is full of strong, capable, determined women who will insist on better treatment and will not accept less. Doors are opening. Glass ceilings are being shattered. Maya Angelou famously said, “When you know better, you do better.” The best for women is yet to come which can only mean the best for society as a whole, as well.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is the business development manager at The Union. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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