Dear daughter still in my womb,
Your dad says you’re gonna give us hell. He’s probably right. You never stop moving when I am still. If I am tired, you are awake. My doctor says you’re a perfect, happy baby girl. She’s probably right too. Your big brother has mixed feelings about you on a daily basis. Some days he wants to tickle you and hear your heartbeat. Other days he wants to hit you. (Don’t worry, I won’t actually let him do that when you’re out here on the other side.)
I am both excited and fearful of your impending exit from this body. Inside you are safe. You can’t understand the hurtful words of misogynistic men. You can’t see a disapproving look from another girl who might not look the same as you. You can’t see the color of anyone else’s skin, or understand why anyone would care about such differences. You don’t know how horribly your nana and I fought from the time I was old enough to argue, and into young adulthood. You can’t understand all my missteps I don’t want to repeat.
But what I want you to know is this: I want you to be you, and no one else.
Don’t strive to live up to my expectations or anyone else’s, only your own. No matter how much you want to give in to the need to be accepted, don’t. Be yourself. Be too much. Be extra. And don’t feel guilty for doing so. Love who you want to love. Live how you want to live. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t be something. Even if that person is me or your dad. Becoming a parent does weird things to your brain, and we may say or do things that aren’t the right thing. But we’ll always do our best to recognize that and reconcile our faults.
You are beautiful. You are wild and free and my prayer is you stay that way for your whole life.
There’s something different about giving life to a fellow girl. It feels heavy. I can teach your brother things, but not the same things your dad can teach him. But you, my love, are so much my responsibility. And that is what makes me afraid. I want to love myself so that you see its ok to love yourself. I want to always stand up for myself, so that you see it’s always ok to stand up for yourself. I want to be kind and accepting of others, so you see that’s what makes the world a better place.
I want you to know that just because I got married and had kids, doesn’t mean you have to do that. You can have a career. You can travel. You can thrive in singleness. You can be independent and take care of yourself. You don’t need the approval of another human to feel valued.
And there’s one more thing. The Jesus who loves you, does so because of exactly who you already are. He accepts you for exactly who you already are. The Jesus who loves you does not look at skin color or gender or social status or nationality. He looks right past all of that and sees; Humanity. He was a rebel. An outlier. A destroyer of the status quo. Stood up for the oppressed, the broken, the other. He looks at women in particular and sees message bearers. Purveyors of truth. Deliverers of reckoning. Leaders of men, women, and children. And above all, His greatest commandment is love. To love your neighbor as yourself. If that’s the greatest commandment, then a lot of other things you’re going to hear equate to nothing more than hate-filled legalism. You’ll learn how to discern the noise from the truth. Follow your instincts, trust yourself.
There a thousand other things I want you to know. And I’m sure I’ll never feel as if there’s enough time in the day to tell you. But know this: You are loved. You are wanted. You are accepted exactly the way you are. And when you’re 13 and screaming at me because I’m mean and never let you do anything you want to do; you can throw this letter in my face and remind me. So that I slow down and remember. That you are my daughter. But that you are also a human, with your own thoughts and opinions and voice. And that’s actually really, really amazing and wonderful.
I can’t promise no yelling. As a strong woman I admire once said; some families are sweet, and some are spicy. If you haven’t it figured out, we are the spicy ones my sweet child. So may your sarcasm game be strong, and your forgiveness overflow.
I’ll love you forever,