To Lolly and Avery:
There’s been much talk, recently, about women and women’s rights. It made me consider the world in which you’ll come of age, and the culture that will surround you. While I can’t predict the state of the world in the next eighteen years, or heck, even four, there are some basic ideas that I’d like for you to consider and employ, if they feel right to you. And some lessons I’ve learned that I hope you never learn for yourself, but can trust me enough to accept as fact.
First, don’t over-pluck your eyebrows. Your natural shape is perfect for your face. If I see you getting a little crazy with the tweezers, I will absolutely hide them and we’ll have a chat about anxiety. In my experience, obsessively over-plucking goes hand and hand will a soul fighting a fear-filled battle for perfection. Your eyebrows are not the place to fight that fight. Leave them alone.
You are not defined by the way you look; the size of your chest; the symmetry of your face; or your weight. Your value is not in how many boys stare at you, though there may be a time when that seems like the only thing that matters. Beauty is not an achievement, but a gift of genes having NOTHING to do with you. Don’t chase that elusive idea of perfection. It does not exist. You are beautiful because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and I have beheld you every day of your little lives thus far and I find you both gorgeous, inside and out.
Your value is inherently inside you as a creation of The Creator. It can not be diminished or added to. You are already as priceless and perfect as you will ever be. There is nowhere you can go and nothing you can do to change it. You are worth dying for; worth living for; you are everything. You are the apple of Jesus’ eye, exactly as you are. Your degree (or lack thereof) has no bearing on His love and approval (or mine 😁). Getting married will not increase your value, just is getting divorced will not decrease it. Your ability to bear children makes no difference and a barren womb makes you no less.
Speaking of barren womb, if that is what you face, there is no such thing. As a women, you inherently have the ability to give life. You don’t have to grow a child in your body to fulfill that calling. There are children, causes and countries to whom you can give life with your love and attention. You can birth a company, a book, an idea. You can foster, adopt or sponsor children who may only know death without you. Your value as a woman is not tied to your reproductive system- those are simply features of the masterfully crafted shell in which you house your soul and spirit.
You should exercise. You should eat well. You should also eat donuts on occassion.
You should always stand up for yourself, but more importantly, you should always speak up for others. You are not to be walked on, dismissed or demeaned. Oppressive behavior should always be called what it is and may you never, ever tolerate abuse of any kind.
You don’t have to be loud and obnoxious to be show yourself strong. You don’t have to be vulgar and noisy to be taken seriously. You are powerful because you are YOU, not because you are a women, or a wife, or a student or a doctor. You are powerful because you are a human, capable of any and all good for which you have been graced. Your possibilities are endless.
If you ever find yourself in crisis… if a report from pathology comes back with the worst of the worst; if you find yourself on a hijacked plane hurling towards a skyscraper; if your child is dying in your arms; if your cells are multiplying faster than the chemo can kill them; if you are in a relationship with no future; may you always be BRAVE even when it hurts. May you face your storm with determination and resolve to always suffer and end well. May you know exactly who to call in your last moments. May you take your final breathe with satisfaction and joy. May you hear “well done” on the other side.
Never take your privilege and the rights that you enjoy in a country more respectful of women than most for granted. There are countries where women are seen as less than cattle and stoned to death for stepping out of line. You are blessed. You are fortunate.
Read Jim Crow laws and be shocked and appalled at the atrocities perpetuated by others who share your skin tone. You should visit a holocust memorial and tour a concentration camp. You need to know the name “Rodney King” and how four acquittals further divided a divided nation.
Emmett Till. James Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Michael Schwerner. Viola Liuzzo.
You need to know them.
You need to know about female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and all other commonly practiced violations of human rights. May you always be moved to speak against injustice. Remember that seemingly normal humans are capable of enormous hate and prejudice. Choose to stand on the right side of history when the time comes and never be afraid to take a stand.
May you seek to always build your treasure where moth and rust cannot destroy and remember that we are only dust. Our days will end and the world will move on, but the legacy of your life can live on. Live well. Live kindly. Live for others. Live for Jesus.
Work hard. Work smart. Value your family above every other relationship. Take vacations when you can afford them. Remember that your money looks better in your bank account than on your feet. Never settle for any man who loves you less than your Daddy (which is going to make picking a mate a little tricky, since your dad is pretty much enthralled with you both).
You were born to change the world and you will do so, even on the days when you’re changing diapers or wiping snotty noses and you feel as though no one notices or cares.
You are both a dream come true. I will support you no matter what you choose in the days to come and I will love you endlessly, the way only a woman can.