I had this crazy idea when my babies were born.
Well, I guess I had quite a few crazy ideas (most of them having to do with me being the perfect mom).
But one of my biggest CRAZIES was the idea that, somehow, it was MY JOB to shape my kids into who I thought they should be.
Since my girls were born first, those little ladies have had the privilege of enduring my earliest motherhood failures. (I’m truly sorry, Girls!)
Over the past thirteen years of being a mom, the truth has slowly dawned on me.
Well, that’s putting it nicely.
Many times, it’s felt more like a slap in the face!
And that truth is simply: God created these amazing little beings and sent them to me, PRE-programmed with ideas, personalities, gifts and interests.
It isn’t my job to SHAPE them so much as it is to LEARN and DISCOVER who they are.
Yes, I am my children’s mom and teacher.
But I’m also a student of my kids, and God is the master Designer.
Sometimes I sort of forget that these little people were HIS idea first.
This really hit home with me again this week.
Last fall, my ten year old daughter and I started a little routine of getting up extra early one day per week to have some “quiet time” together. We grab our robes and fuzzy socks, pour cups of hot tea, and Miss E grabs her current favorite book- The Beauty Book, by Nancy Rue.
The chapter we explored this week challenged girls to think about who they are, and to own their personhood and style.
It’s okay if she’s a diva dreamer, and her older sister is an athletic, outdoorsy bookworm.
It’s okay if she loves cats and those cute little chic owls, and her BFF loves horses or dogs or whatever.
It’s okay if she excels in this area, and struggles in that.
It’s okay if she’s petite and wears glasses, and her friends are tall and have braces.
The most important message for her right now is simply that she’s okay.
More than okay, in fact. She’s beautiful and loved, just for who she is.
I always feel a little flutter of awakening capturing my heart as I unpack these truths with my daughters.
I can’t help thinking, What if girls everywhere really heard- and believed- this message?
What if I had heard and truly believed this message when I was ten years old? Twenty years old?
I can’t escape the feeling that women in this culture face many, many pressures and expectations.
It doesn’t really matter if a woman is the CEO of a company, or a homemaker in a conservative church community.
There is pressure to look a certain way in order to fit in.
Expectations to achieve this, do this, or not do that.
Pressures that may arise from a completely secular voice, or pressures that are cloaked in a guise of spiritually but aren’t entirely Biblical or Gospel-based.
Pressures that, as much as I would love to, I will not be able to remove from my precious daughters’ lives… any more than my mother could shelter me from reality.
What I can do is help cultivate inner God-centered confidence, so that the strength within will be greater than the pressures without.
And that is no small order!
As I watch my own daughters’ personalities and personhood unfold before me, I am challenged to answer the quiet questions of my own heart:
Who am I?
What makes me feel alive?
What makes me lovely or loveable?
Apron and laptop and piles of school books aside, who am I… really?
I’ve been pondering those questions this week.
As I purposefully create space in my life and heart for my growing girls, I realize that I also must make a little space for the woman-sized dreams and gifts God created in me.
Dear mother, don’t let the busyness of life swallow up your personhood and silence your inner voices.
You were created to be a woman. Not just a wife or a mom or a teacher or whatever other roles you juggle right now.
We do our daughters a great disservice when we lose sight of the value of our womanhood. Our unique personalities, gifts, voice and dreams.
Because, sweet Mama, you cannot guide your daughter toward confident womanhood if you have not arrived there yourself.
I urge you to go there.
Answer the inner questions.
Pursue healing and peace in any broken areas of your soul. (Easier said than done, I know!)
Learn to love and accept the woman who looks back at you in the mirror.
And embrace the earnest little hearts who are gently stepping toward womanhood beside you.
One way or another, you are setting them on a journey. Make sure you are heading in a healthy direction together!
Who did God create you to be, really and truly?
What inner strength gently pushes against the pressures around you?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.