“Nothing’s Ever Been the Same” by Christina Knowles

BabyValerie“Nothing’s Ever Been the Same”

The sun shone brighter

When you were born

The world got lighter

The cold grew warm

 

Flowers bloomed larger

Joy was realized

You became a harbor

For hope idealized

 

You’re uniquely independent

Curious and strong-willed

Resolutely ascendant

With dreams to fulfill

 

Somewhat of a loner

No one could tell you what to do

I’ve always known there

Was no stopping you

 

The world grew fuller

With you in it

Filled with color

And promise within it

 

Creative and artistic

And lovingly attentive

Empathetic, altruistic

Imaginatively inventive

 

Love unimagined

Began the day you came

Beauty happened

And nothing’s ever been the same

–Christina Knowles 

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Date Your Wife, Not Your Daughter: Avoiding the Electra Complex by Christina Knowles

It’s mid-January, and that means Valentine’s Day is just a month away, and with that comes something I dread—social media flooded with pictures of daddy-daughter dates and the ultimate gross-out, the father-daughter dance. These don’t always happen in February, but the fact that this seems to be the most common time for these activities, adds to my revulsion.

Now before you get too offended, I know that the fathers who take their daughters to father-daughter dances and on “dates” have the best intentions. I’ve heard the explanation that these dates teach your daughter what to expect from the men in her future—that she should be treated gently and with respect. Unfortunately, many psychologists disagree with this logic, and I think we intuitively know that. Just think about it for a minute.

Your daughter probably watches Disney movies where the princess wins the prince, often after competing with another female character. Little girls in our culture are predisposed to think they have to compete for male attention. Your daughter may know you love your wife, and she sees you dress up and go out together. She idealizes you, and if your relationship with your wife is good, she may envy it. She may want to win you from her mother. This is a normal stage of development, but should not be encouraged to linger. If she thinks she has a chance, this can cause an unhealthy dynamic between all three of you. When the daughter becomes confused about her place in the relationship, this phenomenon is called the Electra Complex.

According to educational psychologist, Kendra Cherry, “The Electra complex is a psychoanalytic term used to describe a girl’s sense of competition with her mother for the affections of her father. It is comparable to the Oedipus Complex” (Cherry). Wikipedia defines it this way, “In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Gustav Jung, is a girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father” (Wikipedia). The origin of the phrase (coined by Carl Jung) comes from Greek mythology. Electra conspired to kill her mother after discovering her mother was plotting against her father. As an allusion, the term has come to generally mean a woman whose love for her father is inappropriate, and therefore, unresolved, so she transfers these feelings to other men, thus harming her ability to have healthy relationships with others, often dating older or unavailable men to unconsciously resolve the desire for her father.

It is my contention, and I think this is common sense (I don’t pretend to be a psychologist), that dating your daughter, especially the formal father-daughter dances, confuses the relationship between parent and child, may cause competition between mother and daughter, and may result in resentment towards the mother, possibly leading to the daughter trying to resolve these issues in future relationships. This is the opposite of the message you are trying to send to her.

If you don’t see how this practice is romanticizing the father-daughter relationship, think about the connotations of the terms we use. Most men would never say they were taking their son on a father-son date. They just “hang out” with their sons. Why the confusing romantic terminology when it comes to daughters? Face it; it’s creepy.

Do you really want to create friction between your daughter and her mother? Do you think it’s healthy for your daughter to romantically idealize you and resent the attention you pay her mother? To be in direct competition with her mother for her father’s attention? You don’t have to agree with Jung or Freud on everything to realize that this is not only unhealthy, it’s actually kind of gross.

If the goal of dating your daughter is to teach her to expect gentlemanly behavior and respect from a man, then the best way to teach her this is to simply treat your wife that way in front of her. Date your wife, not your daughter. Treat your wife like a princess, and your daughter will learn the lessons you want her to without all of the confusion and conflicted emotions.

It is not confusing for her to see you treat her mother romantically. She will have more respect for her mother, and she will desire the type of relationship you have with her, but she won’t be fantasizing about you being her prince. You have to admit that the idea creeps you out a bit. At least I hope it does.

Listen to that feeling in the pit of your stomach; listen to your intuition. Date your wife and hang out with your daughter.—Christina Knowles

 

Sources:

Cherry, Kendra. “What Is the Electra Complex?” About Health. Updated 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

“Electra Complex.” Wikipedia.org Updated 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Jan. 2016.

Father-daughter photo. Finding justice.org [http://findingjustice.org/father-daughter-dance-violates-the-law/]

All Grown Up by Christina Knowles

IMG_2659We buried our mother today, my family and I. She was a wonderful mother—loving, strong, kind, principled, and dedicated. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.

Losing a mother is a unique kind of pain. It’s different than losing a father, a spouse, a sibling, or a child. I’m thankful that I haven’t experienced all these different types of devastating loss, but I just know that it has to be different. I’m not saying it’s worse, just different. In fact, I’m pretty sure losing a child would be the worst.

But losing a mother is the ultimate severing of the umbilical cord. When you lose a mother, you feel lost, insecure. I haven’t depended on my mother for many years, but I guess I knew she was always there if I needed her. Knowing she is gone makes me feel all alone in the world even though I know I am not. I feel a primal need for her. I wake up in the middle of the night calling for my mommy, and I don’t care that I am a grown woman, a grandmother even. I want my mommy.

Losing a mother makes a person grow up instantly. You are no longer the child, and having already lost my father, I am no longer anybody’s child. That’s a strange feeling. I am the mother now. I feel this more now than ever, even though I have been a mother for 26 years. Not being someone’s child is a lonely feeling. It makes me want to pour myself into being a mother to my children. Unfortunately, they’ve grown and left home, and I don’t see them as often as I’d like.

Being without a mother makes me feel different. I am different. My husband warned me that losing parents changes a person, but I didn’t really understand before. Losing a mother leaves a void that nothing else can fill. Really losing anyone you love does, but to whom will I go for advice? Who will be proud of me for absolutely no reason? Who is capable of unconditional love besides a mother?

That’s what’s really missing. It’s knowing I will never be loved unconditionally by anyone again. My husband loves me almost that much, but I know I could make him lose his love for me if I tried. Of course, I won’t. My brothers, my sisters—that’s close. They have loved me through everything so far. My kids—I’d love to think that they love me unconditionally, but even though some part of them may need me or love me no matter what, it’s just not that same I’d-die-for-you kind of love. I know this is true because the only people in the world that I would love under any circumstances are my children, the only ones I could forgive anything.

My pain sounds so selfish. It’s all about what I will no longer have. But isn’t that what grief usually is? We miss the people we lose; we will no longer enjoy their love, their presence. My mother was a wonderful person. She left the world a much better place than she found it. But even if she didn’t, today I would still be an orphan. I suppose her goodness just intensifies it.

So today I said goodbye to my mother and to a love I will never experience again. At 49 years old, I just grew up.—Christina Knowles

What My Daughter Taught Me by Christina Knowles

4842_1117003739426_7812007_nTwenty-three years ago today (March 7, 1991) I gave birth to the most precious and beautiful little girl in the world. Her name is Valerie Elise Knoche. Little did I know then the power she would possess over me for my entire life. Children have a way of doing that. You bring them into the world, you care for them, you love them, you teach them, and try to raise them to be good people, but somewhere along the way, they become completely their own individuals, separate from you with their own ideas, ways of doing things, their own hopes, dreams, maybe even beliefs that differ from your own. Children are the only people in the world that you love utterly unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what they do, you will still love them. They could grow up to be serial killers, and most parents would be right there in the prison visiting them and bringing them cookies.  Well, luckily, my children both grew up to be everything I could have ever hoped for or dreamed they would be.BabyValerie

IMG_0298 Having a daughter is a unique experience. When Valerie was little, she was already independent, a little bit of a loner. Unlike her brother, Daniel, she needed her time alone for her imagination to flourish, and it did. She was always creative and still is to this day. She used to cut up her clothes (much to my dismay) and sew them into doll clothes when she was only four years old. They came out pretty well too. She made 3-D cities out of paper and tape and wrote poems as soon as she could write. Valerie loved to shut herself in her room and play by herself when she had too much of everyone else. She would stand up to anyone and didn’t often give into peer pressure. It was sometimes a struggle to get her to compromise with other children.

IMG_0223 Valerie always had a mind of her own, and I always respected her for this. I could see that she would grow into a strong and independent woman, a woman who could and would do anything she wanted. As she grew up, she became a bit of a tomboy. Her favorite clothes were her brother’s cast-offs, jeans and over-sized t-shirts. Even when she became a teenager and began dressing like a girl, I never had to tell her she couldn’t wear something out in public because she was always modest. She was athletic and crazy strong, especially for someone who was always tiny. She would carry her brother or me around the house just to show us how strong she was.

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Surprisingly, Valerie liked to do a lot of the same things I did. We both love to draw and paint, make crafty things, love dogs and nature, we like many of the same TV shows and movies. We are both loners. I say it is surprising because, unlike most kids with their parents, it seems like she liked being compared to me, which is the greatest compliment I could have. I like being compared to her too. She is friendly, polite, talented, funny, and kind–she has a sweet heart, loves fiercely, and gives generously. Valerie is intelligent and determined. She’s a hard worker, has dreams, and works relentlessly toward their realization. I am proud to be her mother, and love the fact that we are friends as well.

I love to spend time with her, and she loves to spend time with me. She often comes over and spends the entire day with me on weekends. Sometimes we just talk and watch movies. Other times we hike, take a bike ride, go out for tea at Montague’s, shopping in Old Colorado City, or make crafts or scrapbook together. I visit her at the fire station and we hang out watching movies. Did I mention she is a firefighter?206050_2110461455248_4633097_n

1003003_10201202319854203_1877843792_n She is a certified firefighter and an EMT with a local station, and she also works in customer service with a phone company. Valerie has always had two or three jobs at a time, constantly, since she got out of high school. She plans on going back to school to continue in the medical field in some way–paramedic, nurse, maybe even a doctor someday. She has always been interested in medicine and healing. She likes to help people, stays calm under pressure, and once she saved a newborn baby’s life on a call. I told you I was proud.

OldColoradoCityValerie and I also have a love of holidays in common. We have traditions that we try not to miss each year. Every Halloween she comes over, and we watch scary movies and pass out candy to kids who come to the door. We elaborately decorate the house for all the different holidays. At Christmas time, she comes over and we bake Christmas cookies and watch the holiday classics: The Year Without a Santa Claus, Frosty, the Snowman, and Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. Every year we brave the cold to go to Old Colorado City to Christmas shop in all the little indie stores and tourist shops. Even though she doesn’t live with me, she comes over first thing Christmas morning to open her stocking, which I fill every year. In the summer we roast marshmallows in the fire pit in the backyard and make s’mores.  We’ve done it in the fireplace as well when it was too cold outside.S'mores

It isn’t always perfect between us. We’ve had a few times when we argued and hurt each other. One time she was mad at me for six months and didn’t talk to me the whole time. That just about killed me. I think I cried myself to sleep more times during that six-month period than I have in my entire life. That’s what I mean about the power that children possess. When you have a child, they own a piece of your heart that you will never have control of again. They can cause you more sorrow than anyone on earth. When they hurt, you hurt. When they’re crushed, you’re crushed. When they’re joyful, you’re joyful. And when they say they hate you, it feels like you will die. When they’re teenagers, you feel like strangling them, but you would die in their place without a second thought.IMG_0512

Having a daughter like Valerie has taught me a great deal about myself, about unconditional love, about pain, about determination, and about dreams. Having children taught me that my capacity for love, joy, and heartbreak is limitless. Having a daughter has increased my love for my own mother as well. Maybe we don’t ever really understand our parents until we have children of our own. Maybe we don’t really understand what unconditional love is until we love a child. I love you, Valerie, my Petrushka. Happy birthday. –Momma

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