I have fears - big fears - about raising girls.
Maybe it's because I remember being a pre-teen girl, and man, it was rough.
Maybe it's because I'm still a girl, and sometimes, I feel like a host of issues would be easier to avoid if I was of the male persuasion.
Or maybe it's because I'm a mom, and I've got to worry about something, and if I was raising boys, I'd feel the exact same way, but reversed.
But whatever the reason, I have lost some sleep over the fact that God bestowed me with little females, and, yes, sometimes I wonder, "What the heck was He thinking?"
So, I wrote this letter.
It was nothing I intended to share at first; it was simply something I wrote to get off my chest. I wasn't even sure the girls would read it.
But here I am, sharing it.
I'm not sure why, but I think it's because that, as of late, I've realized it's just that important to share things like this. That women are on the edge of a new role in our current society, and that when my girls are grown, I want them to know what I hoped for them.
So, what to do I want my girls to know? The letter is below.
To my little ladies,
Right now, we live in a world of ruffles and baby dolls and tiny barrettes and tights under skirts.
But we also play in the mud and climb up and down the slide backwards and find cars and wheels and wrenches fascinating.
Gender is barely an issue in our day-to-day lives. I'd likely be raising you exactly the same if you were boys right now, just with a bit more blue and a bit less pink.
But soon enough, those days will pass. And some yahoo will tell you, "Girls don't play with trains," and you will remember it.
And then you'll realize boys are different. And eventually, you'll think they're different and awesome, too.
And then the issues Mommy is dreading - the issues that always come up no matter how much I try to broaden your horizons and paint your options as limitless and tell you you can do exactly what you set your mind to - will come up.
So, here's what I want you to know. Here's what my heart hopes for you. Here's what others will try and tell you is not true. Here's what I hope you'll listen to, anyway.
Your body is an amazing tool, though you'll feel it betrayed you from time to time. The fact is, you can't fight genetics, and while I hate it, I also know you'll likely stare woebegone at the thighs you inherited from me and wonder, "Why? Why these ugly things?"
But then you'll use those thighs to swim or run or climb. They'll carry you up six flights of stairs in your elevator-less dorm room at college. They'll help you squat when you hit the gym, and they'll support you when the rest of your body is wracked in contractions while you have a baby.
Please know that they will only seem so glaringly large to you. Some men will love them; other women won't notice them, unless they are simply doing so to point out a flaw, any flaw, to make themselves feel better.
Because, unfortunately, women do that a lot.
They eat their own.
Some attack other women they find prettier than them or smarter than them or who threaten them in some way, shape, or form that most of the time no one else understands but themselves.
If you are strong - and I know you'll be strong - this strength will intimidate others.
While you're young, they will tease you. Teenage girls are good at that, especially behind your back. But forgive them. You'll feel the urge to do it, too. It's almost something that adolescence brings out that some girls just can't fight off.
Still, fight it. Other women do. Those women can be your friends, your confidantes, your life lines. And yes,those women can be totally different than you. But they are like gold in the adult world.
They are real and true and open-hearted. They will not judge you for how you vote, worship, or raise your children. They will simply love you.
Surround yourself with those women, and make them your tribe.
And as for the rest - the ones who still point out your shortcomings at every turn and strategically hurt you where you didn't know you could still be hurt as an adult, by someone you don't even like, no less - well, realize it's not about you at all.
Something in you makes them uncomfortable with something in themselves. Maybe it's your marriage. Maybe it's how you raise your kids. Maybe it's how you speak or carry yourself or what you espouse to politically.
But whatever it is, it bothers these women. It makes them turn inward, and they don't like what they see. They aren't confident enough in their own choices to stand behind them without bashing yours.
So walk away. With your head held high.
Never feel shame for being who you are and for talking about it.
Just don't sink to their level; remember, it isn't about you, anyway.
Have children if you want them. They will make your life full in a way only kids can. Go for your dream job. Loving what you do every day is success, even if you just pay your bills and nothing else.
Money is stressful, and it won't do you much good, in the long run. But it can hurt you.
Debt is bad. Always. While it is sometimes unavoidable, keep in mind that your purchases will follow you for far longer than you think. Plus, real women don't need to charge expensive shoes and bags to be who they are.
Money will never help you be who you are.
Still, travel, if you want to. But feel no shame if you're happy to settle down on a farm or in a small town or in a suburb in the Midwest. Go where you're happy. Go wherever is best for you.
The glamour behind the little girl in the big, bad city is over-rated. Men will find you anywhere, and memories are made because of the people you choose to spend your time with, not because of where you are.
Respect authority, but question it. Doctors aren't always right. Teachers aren't always right. Scientists aren't always right. Pastors aren't always right. Humans are fallible, and just because you're not a licensed expert, doesn't mean you don't have the power to research, learn, and make decisions that are right.
But, please, do your research. Question everything. If you know better, you'll do better. Gaining knowledge can help you make choices with a lot less regret. After all, you were raised to use your brain, to problem solve, to question what you're told. Go do that.
Also, remember, crying can be good; laughing can be bad. Still, do both. There is no shame in either manifested emotion.
Go to weddings and funerals. Meet your friends new babies as soon as you can. Celebrate all of life's moments. Drink a glass of wine with every toast and dance dance dance. We spend too much time worrying what others will think is "appropriate." You'll never regret kicking off your shoes, lifting up your skirt, and getting down. Don't miss that.
All men aren't like your father. He's true and loyal and thinks you're amazing. But there are more of him out there. Go find that guy. Even if he's awkward or un-athletic or makes a living as a janitor. As long as he loves you and respects you, he's the one. The rest of the fish in the pool? They may be fun to look at, talk to, or laugh with, but they aren't worth falling in love with. Be careful. Unless you're sure. Then go for it, full-force. Fall head over heels; get married; be happy. It's just that simple with a man who's worth you and all you bring to the table.
Eat food that you love; girls can eat, too. Lift weights; girls can lift, too. Watch football and scream at the refs; girls can love football, too.
Ask for help when you need it; it's never a sign of weakness to acknowledge you aren't good at something and could use some assistance.
Take photos of who you are at certain times in your life and who you're with. You'll love looking back at them, no matter how out-dated your hair is.
Surround yourself with color. Go to flea markets. Talk to strangers. Bake cookies. Listen to annoying music no one can stand but you. Wear white even if you're stain-prone. And if you take after me, you will be stain-prone. That's all right.
Make art, even if you're not an artist or in the least bit artistic.
Go to the movies. Read books. Allow both to change you.
Pray about everything. It's a gift you can give to others, as well. Use it. Pray often and earnestly. God is always listening.
Enjoy the rain and the sun. Sweat and chills are both part of life, and you wouldn't enjoy one without the other.
Believe in yourself. Believe that you were created to do what you've set your mind to. Believe you are capable.
And if you're truly not sure, fake it until you make it.
Confidence wins most battles.
Love yourself and your sister(s and brothers, if/when there are more of you.) Only you two will know exactly what you came from and why you are the way you are. Friends can be like family; embrace that concept. Love them like flesh and blood. But know that flesh and blood do understand a level in us that no one else is privy to.
Trust your aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents. Our family is a bit nutty, but it is wonderful. And they all love you. If there is a moment where you cannot get to me or your father, but you need us, call them. They are the only ones who will not hesitate to jump in the car, on a plane, or walk across the street to get to you, no questions asked.
And remember, I love you like no other person on this Earth ever will. You cannot lose that love. It will follow you, no matter where you go. It will always be there when you're tired or lonely or in need of something.
It isn't perfect; I am woefully human, after all. Which is why I know you'll remember when I yelled, sent you to your room, ignored your tantrum, took away your toy, and told you "No!"
I will always cringe about that; no mother wants anything but an idyllic childhood for her kids.
But I know my love will transcend all that, too. It won't quit. It's got a strength you will only understand when you're sitting and holding a screaming baby attached to an umbilical cord stemming from inside you, as all the pain from the hours of labor completely disappear before that little being that will call you "Mom."
So doubt where you have to, but don't doubt that. That love is like magic. It's not explained adequately by anyone in this world.
It's mother's love.
And I so love you, my sweet, sweet girls.
If you forget everything else above, just know that. I love you always and forever.