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Doing the things I want my daughter to do

For Christmas, my 4-year-old daughter got a picture book titled "Just Like My Mommy." In it, little girls talk about the things their mommies do that they want to do when they grow up.

These mommies go to fancy parties, carry "secret files" to work, cook, paint, garden, build birdhouses and contort their bodies into any yoga pose.

Talk about pressure.

Where's the mommy who sits on the couch in her robe eating chocolate-covered potato chips? Because after the holidays, that's all the more mommy I aspire to be.

But seriously, this sweet book really got me thinking as Eve and I read it. Mainly, am I being the kind of mommy, of woman, I want my daughter to want to be?

Eve has said she wants to be many things. A doctor. A teacher. A dinosaur. Most often, a mommy.

One day last spring, however, she told me she wanted to be a daddy. When I asked her why, she said it was so she could go to work every day.

I got down on my knees, wrapped her in my arms and explained that when she grew up she could go to work every day or she could stay home. I emphasized how staying at home with her and her brother was my choice, not an obligation of my gender.

"Mom," she said seriously. "Can I have a Ritz cracker?"

So maybe age 4 was a little young for a conversation on women's lib.

But actions speak louder than words. And that book, with the mommies doing so many interesting things, put a new-found importance on the things she sees me do, whether working on my computer, reading a book or exercising at the gym.

Do the things I do match the values I wish to impart? Or would I prefer my daughter "do as I say, not as I do?"

Shortly after my "doing" epiphany, Eve and I stumbled into a conversation about winter sports. She'd watched a new Tinkerbell movie, which featured winter fairies taking part in snowy fun.

Eve asked me if I had ever ice skated.

"Once," I told her. "But I fell down a lot."

She asked if I had ever gone skiing.

"Once," I said again. "But I fell down a lot."

"Oh, Mom," she chastised me, "you just need to practice."

And suddenly, I was on a mission. To show my daughter I can ice skate, so she will know she can ice skate.

I called around to find a rink with open skating and ice skate rentals. On Sunday afternoon we found ourselves at the Moorhead Sports Center, lacing up our borrowed blades.

And to my utter astonishment, I was able to skate.

I wasn't graceful, but I stayed upright the whole time. I even did some slow, wide 360-degree turns.

Eve was also awed. "Wow, Mom!" she exclaimed as I took my first tentative strides onto the rink. "You're skating!"

Her first foray onto the ice was as you'd expect. She couldn't keep on her feet with the narrow blades underneath her. Even when holding onto a "walker," her legs zoomed back and forth almost comically.

I cheered her every fall and helped her back to her feet, despite being a little unsteady on my own. I reminded her how the first time I skated, I fell down a lot.

She didn't quit. She didn't say "can't" or "never." She vowed to keep practicing, so one day she can skate.

Just like her mommy.