Daughter I want you to inherit freedom from me.
The freedom to stretch your long, awkward limbs, your mind, your appetite, your wonder at the world and the gift of being a woman.
So when you sit across from me you know I am comfortable feeling full – of life and love and family and yes, also food.
And sons, I want you to know your mother loved being a woman and wooed you into how to make your wives feel loved.
Not by what size they were or how they applied their make up. But by how they weren’t afraid to snort loud when they laughed.
And said yes to the breadbasket when it was passed down the table alongside the soup.
And no to the crowd when the crowd wanted her to do, say, or wear what wasn’t her choice. And that you were right there, holding her hand.
Because I hear you listening at me across the kitchen counter top.
At me, you listen.
The active listening of children who are living sponges.
Who don’t so much sip the words that drip from their parents’ lips but swallow and gulp them down with the skill of those accustomed to drinking from fire hoses. Hoses that use all three of their names all at once and over and over again.
Especially on the nights I lose my temper and loose my wild tongue on a trail of collateral damage because really I’m just frayed thin around the edges and haven’t paused to take care of myself today.
So I slow down and practice self care and the fine art of putting myself in a time out until I can be trusted with my tongue.
But watch me anyway because I’m going to teach you how to apologize.
And because I want to be a better teacher than the tomes of research and recycled opinions that say girls start hating their bodies young and that boys are simply victims of their own thoughts and what the NFL showcases as appropriate behavior.
Watch me, your mother.
I am going to dance with your father tonight.
Right here on the living room rug that is due for a good vacuuming, between the old sofas and the book shelves that line our lives with memories of all the 101 places I’ve read these pages 101 times.
Watch us as we write a new story.
See how dancing can look like doing the dishes together? And passion can feel like opening your arms to the three kids who clamber into a family, group hug.
Or how your dad lies cramped up on that tiny sliver of the mattress to make room for an eight-year-old with bad dreams. How he tells me as I huff and puff about “never enough room,” that as long as his sons want to find comfort in his presence, he will keep folding back the comforter and inviting them in.
Listen at us. It’s OK. We do understand.
That passion is also much more than dad remembering to take out the trash.
Wildly right and ready passion is never embarrassed.
I can tell you stories one day of how your father kissed me beneath the cherry blossoms and behind that fountain that sings beside the US Capitol building in as many colors as my heart burst into that night.
I know what it feels like to feel full.
It is good.
And I have memories of romance that can curl toes.
I am not afraid of your crush or the days you’re crushed by all the things you feel. Take my hand, I promise to hold on. Even on the days that means letting go.
Take lessons from your mother in the habit of making room for each other and embracing the space with generous love and the freedom to say how you really feel.
Don’t shrink back or away or out of your own convictions, body, life, dreams, or faith.
Hold tight, my darlings.
Don’t be afraid to keep growing bigger.
A bigger view of the world and the remarkably, breathtakingly, just-like-you-in-so-many-ways people that color wildly outside the lines of what you might have expected.
Keep pushing forward into the one, exquisite life that has been given to you. A gift.
And we will sit late around the old kitchen table with its surface graffiti-ed with more days of paint and clay and markers than I can remember. And I will pop corn or pour coke or coffee or trays of fudge or bowls of chips or maybe just an old journal or one night a bag of carrot sticks or Jackson’s obligatory helping of Cheerios and we will remember our story together.
How your mother learned that Jesus loved her first and it creaked open her joy in loving others with the dirt-smudged hospitality of her grinning children.
Sand between the toes.
Footprints on the front porch and down the hall.
Shoes everywhere and stories welcome.
Big love that makes all the distance between us small -and easy to cross.
And a Friday free printable for you all reading through the Surprised by Motherhood book club with me?
Just right on the image below to save.
And if you need a deep, daily source of encouragement –> I can’t encourage you strongly enough to connect with my other online home, (in)courage – a community of women sharing their messy, broken,beautifully redeemed stories.