Mothering a Girl: The Good, the Hard, and the Surprising

Mothering a Girl: The Good, the Hard, and the Surprising

The joys, challenges, and surprises this mom experiences raising her daughter.


By: Lorraine Allen

Being a woman and raising a daughter is an intensely complicated, wonderful process, I’m finding. I was raised in a house full of women myself, but still, I was entirely unprepared for how surprising and sometimes challenging it is, to raise a girl. Really, it’s nothing like any book or even expert might have you believe. In fact, it’s not even anything like I had imagined.

I thought my daughter would probably just be a tomboy, like me, and like her only girl cousin. I thought, honestly, that a child is pretty simpleminded. They either like pink, or blue, basically. Wow, was I ignorant. (Thanks for nothing, stereotypes!) In some ways, my girl, Lina, is a tomboy: Her favorite color has always been some shade of blue (turquoise, actually), and she prefers pants. Her favorite activities include biking really fast, skiing, and climbing. But she sings songs and dances all day long, too...She loves fairy tales, but she has no interest in princesses. In a word, she’s a paradox – complex and individual, strong-minded and unique. She might not like pink, but she won’t take just any shade of blue, either. She’s neither a tomboy, nor a girly-girl. Surprise, surprise!

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There’s also the unexpected emotional side to raising a daughter. Like many girls, Lina is extremely gentle. She’s never grabbed a toy from another kid, or pushed or hurt anyone (except her rambunctious, large and crazy dog, but that’s almost necessary, to survive in our home). And she’s sensitive too -- she feels hurt easily, like when a friend ignores her, takes something from her, or cuts her down, even if it’s not intentional or mean. But she’s also extremely brave and resilient. When she’s faced with a challenge or hurdle, she will NOT step back until she has overcome it. Her focus is fierce, and she will push herself, hard. She believes she can do anything she sets her mind to, if she just tries and tries again, and she’s not afraid of failure. She thinks of it as a normal part of learning, I think, and that, to me, is amazing and surprising, coming from this little pixie of child, who at age 6 still weighs less than 40 pounds, and is dwarfed by all the boys she plays with constantly. She might be nothing like I had dreamed or imagined. She’s SO much more: She’s my girl, and she won’t fit any other label. Why should she?

How do you feel about raising your daughters?



Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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