How To Be Present In Your Daughter’s Life

What’s brown and green and not looking right all over? That’s what I asked myself as I recently looked at my plant. And that’s what I also asked myself as I looked at what my daughter was displaying.

No mom ever expects her plant — or her daughter — to start displaying “brown spots.”

And even though I have limited plant knowledge, I do know that brown spots on green leaves do not go together.

New Plant Awareness

A few days after I had re-potted my plant, I started to notice that there were brown spots on different parts of the leaves. leaves with brown spotsI did not pay much attention to it. I simply continued to water my plant every three days or so.

After a week went by, I noticed that more leaves were covered in brown spots. The brown spots were mostly near the tip or edge of each leaf. So, I proceeded to take a scissors and cut the leaves at the point at which the brown spots ended.

When I was done, I felt like I had done something useful.

As I proceeded to leave the room, I noticed that there was a yellow Post-It note on the floor near my plant. The handwriting that of my eldest daughter, Candace.

This is what it said:


When I read this note, I smiled because I thought that it was very thoughtful of Candace to have looked at my plant and made a diagnosis.

I also smiled at the fact that she gave me a recommendation for addressing the situation. “My daughter giving me her recommendation,”  I thought to myself.

When I looked at Candace’s plants which were next to my plant, it was obvious to me that she actually did have legit knowledge base that is different from mine in this area.

To the right is a picture of her plants.


“Plant Awareness” Does Not (Always) Equal “Parenting Application”

Later on that day, my husband and I sat down with our twin daughters to discuss their amended college summer job plans in light of COVID19’s impact on employment opportunities.

The conversation was long and difficult with Candace, mainly because I was trying to get across some financial points that I didn’t think she was hearing. From what I could observe of Candace, she seemed to be having difficulty implementing a viable job search game plan. I found myself, metaphorically-speaking, “seeing brown spots” as my frustration grew.

Reconsidering My Plant

The next morning, when I woke up and thought again about the previous evening’s conversation, I paused to (re)consider my plant. Then I re-read Candace’s note and it made me pause even more.

I began to wonder:

What could have happened to my plant

to result in it developing or

becoming susceptible to a fungus?

My immediate thought drifted to it being my fault; was it something I did or didn’t do.

(Why is it so common for a mom–a woman–to blame herself?)

Then I remembered that this mothering thing isn’t about blame.

“Blame renders

judgment without understanding.”

Dr. Michelle Deering

Jon Tyson | Unsplash

This motherhood thing is about being open to examining what’s going on in your daughter’s life.

“Examination is about

reviewing situations

with a heart to understand.”

Dr. Michelle Deering

What To Understand About Your Plant

So, in trying to understand the state of my plant, I begin to consider four things:

Precursors To The Spots

My plant had been in a small pot, constrained

for longer than it’d needed to be.

Its roots may have gotten affected/infected due to the constraint

Soil-Plant Agreement

The new soil it was in may not be agreeing with my plant.

Or, the bag of soil may have had something in it already

(which was out of my control).


I may have been watering it too much. My behavior could have stemmed from my fear of not having watered it enough the first time and trying to overcompensate for lost time & effort.

An X-Factor

Some other unknown factor or entity may have come from someplace else and had contact with my plant.

The fact that there are things that are out of my control can be an unnerving thing to admit. So, it’s important for me–as for any mom–to pause to consider how I/we feel about that kind of vulnerability to the “unknown.”

Christian Fregnan | Unsplash

Wrestling About A Plant

As I pondered these four possible explanations for brown spots, some of the possibilities made me feel more uncomfortable than others.

For example, regarding the role that I may have played in this seemingly temporary situation for my plant, I felt horrible as my feelings of regret and remorse increased.

And when I thought about possible factors that were out of my control, I felt worse. Those feelings led to my wanting to take some kind of action to fix the situation. The resulting action was my cutting off the infected leaves.

Have you ever had such moments?

You know those moments. Moments when you just had to do something. Or when you decided to “just do it” yourself to address a situation regarding yourself or your kids?

Sometimes when I see my daughters responding or reacting to life situations in ways different from what I think is best, I default to worrying.  But then I remember that worry is based on fear. And fear-based actions or reactions in mother-daughter relationships usually do not result anything positive.


“Fear is fuel for conflict…internally and interpersonally.”

Dr. Michelle Deering

If fear is not addressed in those two realms, then it can easily morph into self-blame patterns and internal wrestling that can sabotage any attempts to prevent or “fix” an undesired outcome.


What To Plant With My Plant

Still, regardless of my inner wrestling, what it all comes down to is: How, as her Mom, am I going to plant myself in her (“plant”) life?

My answer is always the same: I will find ways to convey to my daughter — my “plant”–that:

  • my heart’s desire is to connect and/or reconnect with her
  • she is not by herself
  • I really do want to help her in whatever age-appropriate way I can

What I have to keep remembering is that….

It’s important to consider the plant itself

and what it actually needs,

instead of what I think it needs.



So, when examining the “brown spots” that may be appearing on your “plant,” it’ll be important to consider:

  1. Precursors to the spots
  2. Soil-plant agreement
  3. Fear-watering patterns
  4. The X-Factor(s)

The actual examination process for figuring these out may involve doing some research on what is going on situationally, interpersonally, or environmentally. I may necessitate your involving the plant (e.g. your daughter) or even an expert.

call me post-it


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