A little girl running away from the camera on green grass on a sunny day


Congratulations, It’s a Girl (and She’s Nothing Like You)!

May 2, 2017

I knew I'd have a girl. Long before that faint line marked her existence and without a sonogram to tell us so. She was always Hannah*: a biblical name meaning grace. We never considered another.

As she grew inside me, I had only a dim rose-coloured vision of my daughter-to-be. I saw her with shiny braids, a contagious smile and unflappable spirit. I suppose, in some way, I imagined a version of myself — separate, but created in my likeness.

At the peak of our 17-hour birth journey, my husband announced in teary amazement, "It's Hannah!". And so a new motherhood chapter began. Title: "Congratulations, she's nothing like you."

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My skin tone: caramel colour; hers: chocolate. I fear birds and water; she's fond of both. She has a sweet voice and ear for music. I'm tone deaf. But these are insignificant, if not amusing, differences. It's the mental and emotional differences between us that have challenged my expectations of motherhood.

Some would consider Hannah "sensitive" and many have labelled her so. Her manner is mild. She feels deeply and is easily hurt. She's inclined to worry, slow at decision making and often has expressed herself through tears. Oh, the tears!

It's the mental and emotional differences between us that have challenged my expectations of motherhood.

This is hardly the girl from my rose-coloured imagination. I suppose I expected Hannah to emerge with a strong sense of self, a positive attitude and the ability to roll with the punches. I expected a daughter who mirrored my temperament and perspective, without imagining how we might relate to the world differently. And herein lies the gift: I'm raising a girl who's expanding my patience and empathy — qualities I've come to value more and more in myself and others.

I have to respond to Hannah's worries and insecurities even when I don't feel or understand them. In order to navigate this unfamiliar territory, I have to listen. Really listen. In doing so, I've found that my daughter is quiet, but tremendously observant and thoughtful. Gentle and soft-spoken but not weak. Emotional but not illogical. She's also humourous, adventurous and commanding in her own ways.

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Her tears, which so often confuse or frustrate me, come from a unique soul that I would never want to change. I love her kindness, transparency and sense of right and wrong. Her gentleness, sensitivity and concern for others will mature into high emotional intelligence which will benefit her in adult life.

This motherhood story isn't about me reworking my daughter's character. It's about her developing mine. As a result of practicing patience, I've become more mindful and empathetic in other relationships. And as I've done that, I've cultivated two essential features in my life: a sense of calm and connection.

So, while Hannah may not match the picture of grace from my dim prenatal vision, she's clearly been a gift, in ways I never imagined.

*Name has been changed for privacy.

Article Author Debbie King
Debbie King

Read more from Debbie here.

Debbie King (aka SUPAFITMAMA) is a Toronto-based masters athlete, influencer, freelance writer, wife and mother of one. At age 42, she is training toward her goal of becoming a 2020 World Masters Athletics track and field champion. In her work as a writer and influencer, Debbie creates powerful content and connections in female fitness, sport, wellness and culture. Body positivity, inclusion and representation are strong themes throughout. As a regular contributor for CBC Parents, she explores a range of healthy living topics for individuals and Canadian families. Follow her journey at supafitmama.com and on Instagram and Twitter.