Friday, February 15, 2013

For V-Day: Daughter of Power, Daughter of my Heart

Today we celebrate V-Day, a day to come together and give voice to the global movement to end violence against women and girls. Today, I, as a mother, celebrate my strong daughter, in the hope that she will never suffer violence to her body or spirit. 

Z, a.k.a. Shorty Tai Tai,* can be pushy. She’s always first in line, getting what she wants, being where she wants to be. She doesn’t value self-effacement, and she doesn’t mind shoving to get to her desired destination. We have a lot of interactions where we probably aren’t quite seeing eye-to-eye on some basic issues around taking turns, or giving instead of taking. It’s hard to tell how much of Z’s powerful behavior is attachment-disordered (controlling, hoarding) behavior and how much is personality-driven.

Anyway, she is a child of power.

Over time, though, I have come to love that my tiny daughter (she has stretched into the 15th percentile in recent years, up from off-the-chart itty-bitty) has such authority and strength. She’ll need it in this world, where racism and sexism still prowl.

Here are some recent incidents of Z-power:

Walking home from school:
“Mama, I did something kind today.”

“You did? Great! What was it?”

“When it was somebody’s turn in line ahead of me, I let them go!”

At the dinner table:
I asked Z if she would support us when she is very rich and powerful someday, just joshing around of course, and she said, “Ask me another time.”

Waking up in the morning:
“I woke up and I just thought, ‘I am going to choose to be good the whole day at school today!’”

“Wow…The WHOLE day?”


“Doesn’t your teacher have something to do with that?”

“So…it’s just up to you?”


            At lunch at school:
Two boys were teasing Z, saying that she was “weird” because she had hummus in her lunch.

She stood up and told them, hands on hips, “Don’t yuck on my yummy!” Having asserted herself and resolved the situation to her satisfaction, she marched over to the teacher to give a full report. But only to let her know what was up, not because she needed anything!

Safe to say those fellas are no longer “yucking” on anybody’s “yummy.”

Although I cannot applaud Z’s corny turn of phrase, I was reassured that in the rare instance that anyone dares to give her a hard time, she’ll be ready for it! Z came home pretty upset that day, but not because she had been put down. She’d already embodied the advice I had in my motherly tool kit: that she should never let anyone treat her with disrespect. She recognized unfair treatment and stood up for herself. In our home, in her school, and in every way I can, everywhere I can, I mean to make sure she continues to do so.

I used to wish that as Z healed, she wouldn’t need to exert her power so constantly. Now, especially on this V-Day (, I hope for her healing AND for her continued power.

Go Shorty.

Full Spectrum Mama

* Tai Tai: literally: “great great” – the Mandarin term for Madame or Mrs.


  1. "She’s always first in line, getting what she wants, being where she wants to be. She doesn’t value self-effacement, and she doesn’t mind shoving to get to her desired destination." This struck such a chord with me. It took me years as a young adult to realize that others don't do this, how it affects others that I do. And it's been decades more for me to be able to modulate the behavior.

    Her's an example: Buffets are an emotional thing for me. I am always first in line at a buffet, and I have no shame about it at all. I see everyone else being all shy and not wanting to look...what? greedy? hungry? I will even elbow my way first in line, if I have to. Why?

    I finally figured it out. Having been raised a vegetarian in an era when such a thing was highly unusual (even in hippie-granola California), I had many formative experiences of getting to the buffet table after people and there being NO vegetarian options left. I still have a fondness for a hamburger bun with a slice of orange cheese and some ketchup, because that's what I would end up eating.

    Generally, I think of this tendency as a response to my environment. The experiences of scarcity, fundamentally caused by adults not making sure my needs were met, are seared pretty intensely into my wiring.

    However, your post reminds me that I am also - by character - a pretty strong-willed, headstrong, bossy, attention-demanding, impatient person. So who knows how nature and nurture interact?

    As a child and youth, I just followed my instincts blindly. Now I am able to observe them and make choices about which to follow - mostly because I came to learn that not every situation would follow the scarcity pattern. I came to believe in my own agency/power - that I could take care of myself by eating ahead of time, bringing my own food. I also had to mourn for the little girl who wasn't taken care of, I had to give her all the attention she needed, so that adult me could make decisions, instead of being ruled by the baby inside.

    It seems to me that Shorty is old enough to be doing some of that Inner Child work (I know that sounds strange to say about a child, but it's really just play therapy). Imagining little baby Z and how she needs to be taken care of, just imagining holding baby Z and giving her all she needs, loving her, feeding her. You will probably see some acting out of unmet needs, but that will give you and her clues to what happened.

    She's so amazing, if she's making the kind of progress you describe. Eventually, she'll realize that she's responsible for her own healing.

    As for me, some buffets nowadays are pretty awesome, but I still usually make sure I'm first in line.

    1. Dearest Elysia,
      Thank you so very much for sharing your experience and wisdom.
      LIke you, for somewhat different reasons, Z is partially motivated by the spectre of scarcity.
      What I have tried to do is be that person who Lets Z Know how her actions affect others and will be perceived. IF she then chooses to pursue her course, I am letting that in some cases be her choice. Certainly, when I am not around, she just does as she pleases!
      She has all those character qualities you mention too, but her charm is off the charts.
      Like you, also, I was traumatized rather early on due to being a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian world. It seems like things have progressed in that arena at least - though there is still much room for improvement. In Panama, my standard meal was a stale white roll with an orange processed cheese slice, which I too came to love!
      With your thoughts about Shorty and Inner Child work, you reminded me of something she said to me after YEARS of trying to get her to use the toilet with no success: "Mama, I just need to be a baby a little more." After that, I GOT it and TOTALLY gave up on that effort. Eventually, she was ready.
      I really think our parents' generation didn't have some of the tools we have, such as knowledge around people needing to be nurtured through all phases of life. That sometimes we need the babying later if we didn't get it when we needed it - whether this is something we do for ourselves or as parents for our children...Did you see this: ?
      I just found that so, soooo beautiful.
      Thanks, finally, for reinforcing my point that being healthy and whole and healing does NOT mean you surrender your power. We women especially need to remember this!!!
      Love to you,
      Full Spectrum Mama


Dear Readers, Full Spectrum Mama seeks to honor and represent a Full Spectrum of opinions. All reasonably coherent comments will be published. If you are having trouble posting a comment (for reasons I cannot figure out, most people do??!!) , please email FSM @: