INTRODUCTION: HOW THIS BOOK BEGAN
Several years ago I was inspired to create a monthly gathering with my daughter, her friends, and their mothers. We’ve been meeting monthly ever since. We voted to call our circle MoonBeams. I imagined our girls as little beams of light, gathering once a month to shine in full splendor, just like the moon, lighting up the darkness. Some of these monthly MoonBeams gatherings live inside me as the best evenings of my life. The girls—now teenagers—loved these evenings. I was inspired to lead mother-daughter circles by the desire that all mothers have to stay connected to our daughters through their adolescence.
Beginning when Lily was about two years old, well-meaning friends and relatives and especially strangers began to say, “Oh, just wait. Wait till she becomes a teenager. Enjoy her now, because…” and their voices would trail off into doom.
Because what? She would pierce her tongue? Embark upon promiscuity? Get a Mohawk? One parenting book back then offered that the “terrible two’s” were a foreshadowing of adolescence, so I watched Lily during her two’s for a hint. Although she was not prone to temper tantrums, her two’s did bring on a very peaceful violation of social decorum when she got into a puzzling habit of deliberately and impishly urinating on the floor. I was not amused. How on earth would that kind of dreadful behavior manifest in adolescence? I was being programmed by well-meaning others to expect rebellion, though I actually looked forward to her maturity. I felt, in fact, that I’d be fine…that I even liked teenagers. I wondered, what if I gave her teen years the space to be different? Daughters, too, are programmed—by movies, songs, friends, tv--that as they get older, parents are the last things they want to have around. I was willing to have it be the opposite. What if she actually still liked me when she entered her teens? I was open to it.
Still—after Lily turned nine, it seemed like some preparation might prove to be helpful. I couldn’t help but notice that she was developing a will of her own, and her will seemed to be developing a life of its own. She was becoming less likely to acquiesce—my formerly agreeable child. The foreshadowing of conflict on various minor occasions told me that it was time to initiate some shifts. I could feel myself wanting to clamp down and impose some rules—which I’d never previously needed. Rules felt potentially satisfying, yet harsh. What other option was there?
I looked for a book specifically to help me guide these shifts: hers from external to internal authority, mine from full authority to co-creator, but I didn’t find the help I sought. I wanted there to be an answer out there in the world. There wasn’t. I pondered a new pathway. A different perspective. I knew if it weren’t fun, she’d want no part in it. I considered what I knew about kids and yoga and personal growth. I rerouted our path.
This book is the fruit of those shifts and a description of our path. Good news! Our little games and exercises and secret codes were fun! She liked them. They were harder for me than for her—I was more stuck in old ways of relating than she was. We began to shift from potential adversaries to potential partners. We let each other flourish rather than shutting each other down. My teenager is brilliant—far better than I--at co-creating the reality we prefer, of letting go of her fierce will and coaxing me to let go of my habitual one, so that we can coexist happily and peacefully. And we do.
As we progressed I took notes. Those notes, in the form of this book, offer mothers of daughters support in a way that lets their daughters flourish while staying safe and protected on their journey toward adolescence. Meanwhile Lily offers daughters fun ideas and exercises to help them go from dependence to independence in a peaceful and conscious way.