Wednesday, September 16, 2015

raising a confident daughter

Dear Confident Daughter,

Gosh, I love you. I love the way the world fits you like a glove made for waving to the crowd. I love the way you naturally walk into your day with your chin up and your heart open. Your name means "Fair Warrior", and you live up to all that it means. 

You wear ballet shoes while you karate kick your brothers. (Your HIIIYYYYAAAHHHH! sounds just like Miss Piggy's, which is awesome.) You make all your friends laugh with the inappropriate humor your brothers have taught you to love. (BTW, How do you think of so many words that rhyme with "fart"?) You leap into your dad's arms and command him to play with you, "Throw me, Pop!!!" No one else calls him that name, and he loves how you have boldly renamed him.

In some ways, you are so unlike your mama, and so much more like your dad. I love that. We need it to be that way. When you are weary from all the excitement, my quiet arms are your safe place; and many days your adventurous spirit inspires courage in my own heart. This love we share is meant to be.

But I know I make you a little crazy. You are growing up, and the world of big girls is not always the safe place you expect it to be. You believe the best about everyone. (I adore this about you!) You think I am so silly with all my questions. Like last night, when I asked if the girls at your new dance studio are kind to you.

"Of course they are," you said. "Why wouldn't they be?"

I told you I didn't know why they wouldn't be kind, that I was just checking. But that isn't really true. I know that people don't need a good reason to be horrid to each other. Girls often don't know how to be kind, or simply choose not to be, especially to a girl who is younger than they are. And you're the youngest in your class, so I'm watching closely, that's all.

I embarrass you with my odd ways. My purple hair makes you squirm. When I offered to color yours, you stared at me in disbelief. I read you poetry you don't understand and don't quite want to hear. I sing too loudly in the car for you, especially to Duffy, Katy Perry, and Adele, who also make you *slightly* uncomfortable with their songs that aren't *exactly* about Jesus. You want me to follow the rules and blend in, but it's taken me a whole lifetime to be okay with who I am. You're stuck with this version of me until forever. (At least our life won't be boring!)

I am my own kind of confident. As you grow up, I hope you can understand that courage takes many forms in this world. Until you do, I am keeping guard around your naivete.

When I drop you off in new settings, I remind you about all the rules. You find this superfluous. I tell you no one is allowed to see you naked or to show you their naked bodies. You wink and give me a hearty thumb's up. (These are the times I treasure your love for rule following!) After I pick you up, I ask you if anyone acted funny, made you uncomfortable, or tried to get you alone somewhere. And you laugh and roll your eyes a bit, saying:

"Mama, everyone there loves God, and no one who loves God would do something like that!"

Oh, baby. I wish all the people who love God could always do the right thing. But we don't. Unsafe people don't always look scary on the outside. So, I make you promise to listen, look, and yell if anything bad starts to happen. God gave you your confidence as a shield, and I want to make sure you know how to brandish it when necessary. (Also, use those karate kicks at your own discretion.)

Someday, we will talk about broken hearts and bad choices. The day will come when you stumble because of your own errant will, or you will be tripped by evil from another's aching heart. I will help you find the grace and truth you need when that happens to you.Your own mama's heart has learned courageous love best when her life crumbled a bit. The same will be true for you.

But today, I just want you to know this: I'm so glad you're my daughter. I love who you are. And, just like your brave heart will tell you, God's plans for you are always good, even though people aren't.

Also, roll your eyes all you want when I bother you. I'm not going anywhere. We're in this together for life, girl.