My girls are getting older. Luckily they are spread out and not doing it all at the same level because let’s be honest — that would be overwhelming. But still, they are growing up.
2018 will see us welcoming in a 10 year old, 7 year old, 5 year old, and a 2 year old. All of those are big ages. All of them mean we are leaving stages behind.
And it’s an honor. It is such an amazing honor to be able to help these little ladies become little women.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself fluctuating a bit as each enters and leaves stages. I’ll discover new joys with one, recognize new stages with another. Silly clown faces become inside jokes. Some of them are able to tell real jokes that make me laugh real, full blown belly laughs. We get to discuss ideas and books and goals and values.
And with my little two – they aren’t quite at those stages yet – they are so full of becoming. Tessie is saying new words every day and Mae’s little bubble of life is so full it’s almost bursting most days. And she’s asking new questions and she’s making astute observations. Her mind is growing faster than her little body is
Life is beautiful, and it’s loud, and it’s so very, very full.
Each year I try to come up with a word of the year. I realized a few years ago that resolutions carry with them a lot of pressure and not a whole lot of success. And they are usually limited to one area of life. But if you choose a word to focus on, it can inspire us in many different ways. And there’s no success or fail. It’s just always striving.
But I had a hard time this year coming up with a word. I had a lot of different ideas and a lot of different directions. One day I would find a word and decide that surely that was it. But then the next, I would come up with another that I was equally convicted about.
And then the word, “family” came to me. And I thought about my changing family.
It would be an understatement to say that I am overwhelmed about leading little girls into womanhood. Perhaps that is because I will be 40 years old in a couple of weeks, and I still do not have the slightest idea of how to be the woman I want to be. I know how important a role model is for little girls, and I know that I am, for better or worse, the largest role model they will ever have.
That’s a lot of pressure.
One of my biggest worries is the world around them. Our American culture was dangerous for little girls back in the 80s. Today, it’s downright toxic. As a culture, I think we have learned our lesson about telling girls that their gender limits them. That’s a big victory. But we still haven’t developed a culture that teaches little girls that they have dignity, and we haven’t developed a culture that teaches little girls how and where to find their dignity. We haven’t created a culture that gives them space to be their own imperfect selves.
And so we can’t look to the culture. For that, we have to look to ourselves and to our families.
And so this year, when I find myself worrying about how I am going to lead my daughters or when I find myself getting stuck into the toxicity of the culture or my very own brain, I’m going to focus on family. I’m going to remember that the best thing I can do for them is to create a strong bond within our walls. A bond that keeps us together. A bond that makes them feel a part of something larger. A bond that is joy and peace and understanding and acceptance.
TJ and I need to create an atmosphere of holiness and respect for the dignity of each and every person. We want to instill a desire for service in them, but we have to remember that to go out and serve effectively, we must first be whole ourselves. And that wholeness can be nurtured in each and every one of us by having a stable and a joy filled and a respectful and a comfortable place to land at the end of the day.
And the more I feel the enormity of the burden and feel myself not big enough for the task, I remember these words, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8)
This reminds me that I don’t need to know all the answers. When I feel lost inside my own head, all I need to do is watch what I am putting in it and watch what I am focusing it on.
I’ve been scared to have little girls my whole life. They always seemed so fragile, so malleable, so breakable. Never did I feel like I could lead a daughter into a full and complete and dignified womanhood.
So God gave me four.
Like the cliche goes, it’s a trial by fire. And I realize through the years (almost a decade of parenting!) that the more I help my daughters grow into themselves, the more they help me grow into myself.
Leading this family with TJ is the joy and the honor of my life. When things get tough this year, as they inevitably always do, I am going to look in. I’m going to fortify my walls, and I am going to focus on my family, and I’m going to make us the most solid unit that I can.