19 Apr 2016

What I Want to Tell My Daughter About Being a Mother

She is a fierce little mama.

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Every night before she puts on her own jammies she changes her baby into a onesie and tucks her in just so. And in the mornings when I’m calling for her, pouring her cereal and wondering where she is she can be found deciding on an outfit for her baby. Dutifully giving her a bottle, putting on her tiny socks.

And then it hits me: I will get to watch my daughter become a mother. How does a heart even handle that kind of mysterious beauty?

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She is five but she wants to know.

She wants to know if I think she’ll be a good mom? She looks me straight in the eye and asks me what I think. And how can I even begin to put it into words? How can I tell her all that’s bubbling up in my heart and about to spill out my eyes.

I tell her she already is. 

Oh, daughter of mine, there’s so much treasure still waiting for us to unpack together, isn’t there?

You with your unruly hair and dimples. You with your kind heart and tender, tiny fingers determined to tuck your pretend baby into awkward leggings. I want you to grow up into your mama skin with all this delight still in tact. 

Because, sweetheart, I was always afraid to grow up to be someone’s mama. So if you and I can navigate this journey with your joy still burning strong, we’ll have won a victory over the legacy of lies and pain that wove their ways through my DNA. I want to shield you from anything that whispers motherhood is bad or boring or a cop out.

I want you to know from the beginning that it was always intended as a gift.

This incredible gift that we women get to unwrap in the wee hours. A gift that comes with as much exhaustion as it does passion. 

Sweet girl, you will find yourself breaking up with all the parts of your life you used to love – the long naps and late nights out and food eaten while still hot – and you’ll love it. You’ll love every hard, grueling moment. Because this is the mystery of motherhood. How the more we give the more we have. How Jesus is always in the business of multiplying our little and making all things new. 

Especially 3 am moms. 

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I hold you on my lap and whisper in your tiny ears all the ways I’ll love you when you become a mama yourself. Because you’re always making me promise I’ll still be your mom, even when you have your own kids. So I promise as moms before me have always done.

I promise I’ll still be your mom.

I promise I’ll come and help you change diapers. I’ll fold your laundry while you nap. I’ll pick up wipes and rub your back and remind you that you’re braver than you think and much more capable than you know.

I’ll cheer and I’ll rock babies and I’ll come to a hundred different baseball games and clap at the dance recitals and take the photos and all the while I’ll be watching you, this beautiful, extraordinary creature, growing into motherhood with all it’s stumbles and wonders and worries and wild joys.

My darling, I can’t wait.

I can’t wait to bear witness to your days as a mother. And I can’t wait to remind you how you always wanted to be one. And I can’t wait to see you grow up into all the glory of your calling – kids and a hundred other ways you may change the world.

I can’t believe I get to be here – at the beginning.

***

And if there was a book I could give my daughter now, it would be this one – The Mother Letters.

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Written by mothers to mothers. These letters show that no matter how many times mothers feel like they’ve failed, they are still doing their greatest work. So for the mom who thinks she’s the only one out there who just can’t find time for a shower, The Mother Letters shows her that she’s part of a grand and diverse group of strong women who are saying to her, “Me too. But we can do this.”

The Mother Letters (including one from me) offers encouragement, advice, and vulnerable honesty about the struggles and joys of motherhood. A sweet gift of a book that will fit easily into the diaper bag, it’s a gift that we moms can give each other. And our daughters.

But it’s the story behind the story that gets me every time – After his wife Amber had given birth to three boys in three years, Seth Haines saw that she needed encouragement in the day-to-day drama and details of motherhood. Secretly collecting nearly six hundred wise, honest, and sometimes hilarious letters from other mothers across the world, Seth compiled these “mother letters” as a gift for her.

Amber and Seth have chosen the best of those letters–including letters from some of the most influential writers and bloggers online today–to include in a beautiful book perfect for the mother in your life.

Pick up a copy for yourself or for the mother in your life over here.

 

With thanks to Revell for sponsoring today’s post; all opinions on the gift of honest encouragement from one mother to another are my own deeply held beliefs. Bottom photo by Chelsea Hudson.

 

Comments

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  1. 1
    ainemistig says:

    We found out a week ago that we’re having our first girl. I still don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet.

    When I do think about it, I think I should be looking up books on raising daughters, like I did sons. “I’ve got the boy thing down! How will it be different for a girl?” I’m afraid I’ll enjoy her differences too much and make my boys sad or afraid I won’t celebrate her differences enough. I want to be excited without idolizing her. I haven’t been that excited yet, I was so convinced it was another boy. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for a girl. And it’s a girl!

    And I realize, more than anything, I’ve always wanted to prepare a daughter for real life. Real womanhood. Real motherhood. I want her to grow up knowing and learning all the things I didn’t learn until after I’d crossed the threshold into adulthood, which wasn’t much like what Disney or DC Comics or even College said. I want her to be prepared, so she doesn’t stumble.

    And, now I realize, so she can ENJOY it more.

    “I want to shield you from anything that whispers motherhood is bad or boring or a cop out. I want you to know from the beginning that it was always intended as a gift. This incredible gift that we women get to unwrap in the wee hours. A gift that comes with as much exhaustion as it does passion.”

    Yes – THAT – that exactly, which I didn’t realize until you put it into words. I don’t want her to struggle with any feelings that she’s failed because she didn’t do what Disney or DC Comics or even College said. I want her to know that she is not wasting herself if it’s being spent entirely on little humans. That’s what’s important to God – people. And if that’s what He’s entrusted you with? That’s an honor. It’s a blessing. We’re all entrusted with one another, but parenthood is a blessing that some beg for but never get. He gave you something that is most precious to Him: these souls. I want her to remember that even as these little people may be her sons and daughters, they’re also her brothers and sisters before God, and we are merely stewards of His children. I try to remember that to hold myself accountable. I try to remember that to remember to ENJOY this gift.

    Because I wasn’t one of those who grew up daydreaming about motherhood either.

    But I am completely awed at the gift of it.

    Thank you for sharing this. It was perfectly timed for me.

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    Elizabeth Ankeny says:

    I just became a mama myself, a little bit less than a year ago. This post brought me to tears because my mamma bearing witness to my own mothering has been so important to me…and as I hold my darling girl I can only hope and pray that I will be the same encourager and supporter to her that my dear mama has been for me.

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    Hi Lisa-Jo, I still struggle with fears of “growing up to be someone’s mama.” I’m afraid I’ll raise children that are selfish and angry and lazy. And the other part of me feels confused about why I would bring more children into the world when there are already so many hurting little people in need of a home. I loved that one day you will tell your daughter she is courageous and more competent than she knows. I think that’s what I need to be told myself in regards to motherhood. Thank you for sharing.

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