Our Daughters

I've sitting in this thought lately (or for the last 8 1/2 years): my daughters are learning my way. They're following my movements, my inflections, my tones and perceptions. Where am I leading them?

Aravis, my eight year old is starting to define her style. She's not a sporty girl. She's not a girly girl. She's both. She loves soccer and her scooter. She loves climbing trees and swimming until the chlorine burns her eyes. She loves jewelry and pretty skirts. She lives in shorts and a tee-shirt, but she gets excited over Easter dresses. Her new favorite shoes are her checkered Vans and she always wants new nail polish. She doesn't fit into a mold. She's just Aravis. She is perfectly, beautifully Aravis. I don't want anything to spoil that. Ever.

Certainly not ME. 

My two-year old, Daisy, is completely different. She lives in princess dresses and cries when we try to make her wear pants. She loves her sparkly toms and her new Old Navy fancy shoes. She wears tutus and lip gloss on a daily basis. She plays with Barbies, babies and ponies and expects us all to join in. She's a pig tail girl and we often find her brushing her hair until its "boofull". We sing the Ariel song every night at bed, promptly followed by 'There's No One Like Jesus'. She attends dance class and her favorite color is pink. She's as girly as they come. I don't want anything to spoil that either.

As mothers to daughters we walk a fine line. Our job is to help them uncover who they were created to be. We get to walk a road with the girls-who-will-become-women that no one else will ever get to walk. They are watching us. They are waiting for us to show them what makes a woman powerful, gentle, influential and beautiful. They have questions buried in the deepest parts of their hearts and, whether we know it or not, we're answering them every day.

We don't ever have to say a negative word to them about their bodies, or what makes them individual human beings, but they are listening. When we say the F word (fat) as we're looking in the mirror, they are comparing their bodies to ours. When we restrict our eating while they scarf down their lunches, they are wondering if they should eat less too. They don't just hear our words, they hear our actions. Loud and clear.

Its our job, mamas, to heal the wound before it even springs up. We're not just on this journey for ourselves and for each other. We're on this journey for our daughters. Pretty soon they will join the world of women, they will face the culture that has been pushing back for way too long. Right now, starting today, we can bolster them for the battle ahead. We can teach them to love and embrace who they are, as they are. We can start by embracing ourselves. We can start by acknowledging that our own body shame will be passed onto our girls like a legacy.

Today is the day to celebrate our daughters by celebrating the bodies that bore them, the arms that first embraced them. It doesn't matter how your daughter came to you - by birth, marriage or adoption - that girl is your holiest calling. Embrace her.

Todays challenge: Celebrate your daughter, niece, granddaughter or friend's daughter today. Talk to her about how beautiful the female existence is. Remind her that our bodies are a gift that we're given, but they don't define our worth. Teach her to embrace her differences and to embrace the differences in other people. Kindness starts in our own hearts, where God's love is rooted. 

*October 2013