"THE SHARING OUR STORIES PROJECT"
In our July story, Lynn Arner brings her love for her children and her over thirty years of experience in child development to a very thoughtful examination of the significance of gender in parent-child relationships. Lynn takes the risk of considering and sharing her own biases in the way she relates to her daughter versus the way she relates to her sons. Loving them all with her generous and very devoted heart, she ponders what may feel different about being a “girl mom.” By sharing her story, Lynn invites each of us to take time to look deeply at how we relate to our children. Thanks to Lynn for the insight and sharing!
Love, Carol and Vv
Lynn Arner grew up in Indiana. She moved to California in 1980 and earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Child Development at UC Davis. Lynn has her own business called Early Years where she facilitates trainings for teachers and parents, coaches preschool teachers, and consults with parents who are struggling with parenting. Her passion is assisting parents and teachers to understand a child’s behavior and to “smooth the bumps along the way”. Lynn enjoys time with her husband and 4 children and 4 grandchildren. Spending time with her children means traveling from California to Oregon, Nebraska, and Texas.
Lynn’s Story: My Daughter
There is something special about my relationship with my daughter. I delight in her presence. When I talk about her, I feel a surge of pride and I sense her lightness and pure joy. One of my favorite memories of her is when she was about 5 months old and I was working full time, with her at work with me. My time with her during the day was shared with her brother and 24 other preschoolers with whom I worked at the time. But, at night when she would wake up to nurse, it was just the two of us. After nursing she would be happy and alert and lay there on the floor and coo and lift her legs. I loved that time with her. I could just watch her and smile at her and imitate her coos. She was always such a peaceful baby.
I have two sons as well. It is not that I do not have a good relationship with them. But, it is a very different relationship. I find myself wondering in this moment if it is because they are males. My sons will tell you that I am sexist. I have not had an easy relationship with the males in my life. I say that with a bit of shame. I feel like my joy in women is contrasted by my relationship with males. Why can’t I have the same positive relationship with males as I do with females? The shame is in the realization that I have a tendency to find negative in others in order to feel better about myself. So, is it because my daughter is female like me and I want to see myself in a positive way; and therefore, I see males in a negative way? I cannot honestly tell you that there is not truth there. I am not generally a negative person. I see the good in everyone. But I find it easier to see the negative in males. I am not trusting of males the way I am with females. I have been “burned” in the past by males and I am definitely on the defensive with males more than I am with females.
It is possible that my dichotomous thinking is because my daughter and I are so much alike. She too sees the good in others and assumes positive intent. She is innocent that way. And she expresses joy freely. She is not afraid to be silly and laugh at herself. This is another trait we share. Our careers are the same as well. We both work in Early Childhood Education. She just earned the same advanced degree that I hold. She calls regularly and we discuss the children in her class. My youngest son is currently working in a childcare; but, he does not talk with me about the kids often and he does not ask my advice like my daughter does. Does he not have the same need to vent? Is he not as much of a talker? I don’t believe either of those are true. Does he not have the same respect for me that my daughter has? She seems to admire me the way that I admire her. And, so, I am back to my joy in my relationships with females. I have the same joy in my relationship with my best friend and my sisters and I once had that relationship with my mom. I find comfort and joy with these women.
I am glad that my daughter has joined this female club with me. She often tells me that her boyfriend is just like her dad. We chuckle and warn each other of the difficulties in a relationship with a male. Have I indoctrinated her in this belief? Whether I have or not, she and I connect in our view of males and we have one more thing in common. She tells me that she is just like me. I try to tell her that she is better than me. I see the ways we are the same, like the way we express joy with big broad smiles and our goofy way of acting when we are happy. I also see her being more responsible than me and, possibly consequently, more of a worrier than me. She is also braver than I am. I am divorced and had a very hard time standing up to my first husband. She, on the other hand, has bravely confronted him and spoken her truth. Her strength has always impressed me.
I feel blessed to have been given such a wonderful daughter. I call her when I need to talk and I know that she will listen the same way that I listen to her each time she calls. She lives in Nebraska and I live in California. We talk on the phone frequently, but we see each other rarely. I am happy to say that by the time this blog comes out, I will be in Nebraska visiting her. I am sure that we will snuggle and talk and laugh. I can feel her arms wrapped tightly around me as I imagine it now. She gives me so much joy!
Thank you for allowing me to be open and honest in this blog. In the directions it was stated that “the WISEWOMAN or WISEGIRL inside you is working on a way to better understand and share what you need to understand and share as you work your way through writing your story”. You knew, even better than I knew, what I would write. It is apparent that I am working through my sexist views of binary genders. In this day and age, I feel that I should be more accepting of gender differences. And therefore I will continue to ponder my view of males and females and continue my journey as a mother and a wife and a grandmother and a sister. A special thanks goes out to my sisters who will undoubtedly read this and we will talk about it on Zoom. I love you, my dear sisters!