When my daughter was two, she let other kids snatch toys out of her hands.
When she was three, she let other kids push her out of the way as they zoomed down the slide.
When she was four, she let other kids cast her as the baby in games of house.
When she was five, she let other kids pick her up.
When she was six, she let other kids tell her what to do. How to act. How to play.
I kept hoping it was a phase. Kept hoping she’d outgrow her timidity. Kept hoping she’d stand up to other children and do what she wanted to do. But today, at nine, she is still the child who let’s other kids boss her around.
We were recently on an outing with a friend. Another nine-year-old girl was on the trip. She ran up to my daughter and said hello right off the bat. “This is going to be great,” I thought. “What a friendly child.”
But within minutes the girl was bossing my daughter around. “You can’t come swimming with us,” she said. “Stay there,” she ordered. “Give me that,” she demanded, grabbing a shell out of my daughter’s hand.
I felt my blood start to boil. All the years of “do this,” “do that,” “come here,” “stay there,” raced in front of my eyes. I saw my daughter being pushed. Saw toys snatched from her hands. I saw her curled up like a baby when she really wanted to play the mommy. And one word screamed in my head:
I pulled her aside.
“Don’t let her tell you what to do,” I said. “Don’t give away your power like that.”
This is a lesson I am desperate for my daughter to learn. Because it is a lesson I, in all my decades on this earth, have just begun to learn. Like my daughter, I have been the timid one. I have people pleased. I have stood on the sidelines. And I know I'm not alone. As women, so many of us give away our power. So many of us do not what we want, but what is expected of us. So many of us stay on the shore when we’d rather be swimming.
But I say, ENOUGH!
ENOUGH people pleasing.
ENOUGH diminishing ourselves to make others comfortable.
ENOUGH not speaking our minds.
ENOUGH doing what others want us to do.
ENOUGH standing on the sidelines when we really want to be dancing in the middle.
ENOUGH saying yes when we really mean no.
ENOUGH with the timid smiles.
ENOUGH not asking for what we're worth.
ENOUGH saying sorry when we don't need to apologize.
ENOUGH trying to fit into some mold of what is beautiful.
ENOUGH of not feeling enough.
ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH
“What do you want to do?” I asked my daughter.
“I want to swim,” she said.
“Then go swim,” I said.
My daughter looked over at the girl who had told her no, and lifted her chin. She marched towards the shore and pulled off her shoes. And as she dove into the water my heart soared.
She had done it.
She had finally said, ENOUGH!