Okay Ladies, we need to talk.
I’ve been wrestling with this blog post for almost two months now. Since the Women’s March I’ve had many things on my mind, but every time I muster up the courage to put my thoughts down on paper, my daughter walks by. There’s so much I need her to know about being a girl and growing into a woman. There’s so much I need her to know about life. But, more importantly, so much I need her to know about her. So in an attempt to share my heart, I’ve written an open letter to my daughter. I hope you will find a little truth in these words.
To my Ella Jane,
The year is 2017 and you’re two. You’re sassy but sweet, opinionated but quiet, and, as you already know, your daddy is completely wrapped around your finger. You love ferociously and fearlessly and will take down a tyrant three times your size. When you were born I felt great comfort in the fact that you have a very large older brother to protect you. But, as your personality develops, I feel confident that you will protect yourself and he may, at times, need to rein you in. You are innocently unaware of the state of our union, and for that I’m grateful. If I could put you in a bubble and protect you forever, Lord knows I would. But, you will grow and probably learn about these trying times in a history class. And, you will come home and ask me questions, just as I asked my mother, like “Hey, did you burn your bra?”. I will laugh, just as she did, and the answer will be “no” and then we will talk.
Every night, I tuck you into bed and you repeat the words I say to you, “I love you” and then you add “so much”. I must be honest when I say that my eyes fill with tears almost every night, and I’m glad the room is dark so you can’t see me cry. That little “so much” is why I need to write this to you. There’s just so much I need to tell you about the things you will face because of your gender.
Right now in America, the country is divided over a variety of things, but women’s rights are smack dab in the middle. I want you to know that this is not new. The rights of women in this country have been in the forefront since its birth. The women who came before you and I and fought for our rights were courageous and we are forever indebted to them. Never forget that many things we take for granted like voting, working, and speaking our minds are not allowed in many countries. There women all over the world that cannot even fathom your freedom. You will form your own opinions on politics, but please remember that freedom must never be assumed and always protected. You will likely continue to face political division in your lifetime and don’t let that confuse or dishearten you – that is freedom and it’s messy. When you look at American history, we continually sway between the right and the left. Each group is there to hold the other accountable. So no matter which side of the spectrum you find yourself, please just get in the game….. Vote!
Okay, that’s over, no more political lectures from your mom. There are so many things I need you to know that are deeper and more important than politics and policy. My prayer is that I have a lifetime to teach you everything your grandparents taught me and their parents taught them, but I’ll start with five or six important facts and promise to write you a thousand more letters.
- First, I want you to go after life the same way you eat blueberry muffins. We have a few years to develop your table manners, but when you eat a blueberry muffin you are uninhibited, fierce, and almost savage at times. You are all-in, and that is how I want you to chase your dreams. Give it all you’ve got.
- Leggings are not pants. Now I’m serious about this. Leggings have been in style twice in my lifetime and therefore, I’m pretty sure they will come around several times during yours. They are, in fact, the most comfortable things you will ever squeeze into, but they are not pants. They are unforgiving, especially the lighter colors. Please wear them, as this is surely a glimpse of what heaven will be like, but be a cautious of your shirt length and panty lines – that’s all I’m saying.
- You have “good hair”. Now I can’t take all the credit for this because the first time I saw your dad his hair was longer than mine. Although he looked a little like a professional wrestler because of his size and broad shoulders – that hair, well it was something else. Take care of it, use conditioner, and know that the boys will flock to those long locks like a fly to honey. May God be with all of us through your teenage years and may I not lose my mind and shave your head. That’s all I’m gonna say about boys for now – there will be 1,092 other letters on this subject.
- Learn how to use basic tools. I will personally teach you this and please pay attention. Knowing the difference in screwdrivers will take you far. I will also teach you how to change a tire, use a power drill, pressure wash, mow grass, and other basic necessities of life. My dad only had girls so it was important to him that we “knew things” – his motto was “What do ya need boys for?”. We will also spend a lot of time throwing a ball and sliding into home. It’s okay to throw like a girl if you can turn a double-play and get a base hit.
- Men are not the enemy. I believe that men and women were created differently on purpose. Now your history books are correct and men have often suppressed women. But, make no mistake, that is not the goal of every man and it will serve you well to know the difference. I’m sure there will be times when you are treated differently because you are a girl, but remember this is a two way street and you must also treat men with respect. When a man opens the door for you say “thank you”. It’s not a threat to your independence – it’s called being a gentlemen. If this is confusing, please look to your dad, grandfathers, uncles, and your brother as examples.
- Know who you are. I’m not talking about who others think you are or even who you think you are. I want you to know who you really are. You are a daughter of the King, The Living God. Throughout your life so many things will bargain for your attention and attempt to shatter your worth, self-confidence, and identity. My prayer is that the voice of the Most-High will speak loudly into your spirit. You are beautiful, lovely, strong, capable, and you, Ella Jane, were worth dying for. When you are confused, lonely and don’t know which way to turn, remember the One who gave it all so that you may live. You come from a long line of women who trusted (and still trust) God to the fullest. Of this I am certain, and they would agree – Through Christ you will find freedom that is far greater than any governmental policy and reaches to depths you can only imagine.
There is so much more to cover, but I’ll save that to a later date. We will surely discuss the horrible truths about laundry, cleaning, and “becoming a woman” – no need to crush your dreams right now. For today, can you just stay two forever? Can you always pronounce cookie – “tookie”? And every night when you say “so much” remember that I love you “so much” more.