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As I set out to share about my daughter on her birthday first of all you should know that she believes in magic. If you learn anything about her it is this – she is marvelously aware and in awe of the magic found in the world around us. Not everyone can see it. But as a child raised on all the good myths, legends, and stories – from Narnia to Hogwarts, Jerusalem to Goshen, Minas Tirith to Mordor and Sherwood Forest to Camelot, and beyond – this child sees and understands the mysterious presence of magic in the world.
How she arrived was much like magic. She came in a flurry of activity and hurry. We made our way down the highway in the early hours of the morning. I had gotten up not long after 1am to the pop and gush of waters breaking. Here we were Hubby running red lights as I moaned my way through the ending stages of labor. We parked in a designated maternity spot in the parking garage. I hobbled my way to the hospital’s entrance. A security guard got me a wheel chair. A nurse or two may have rolled their eyes as he wheeled me into labor and delivery. Less than three minutes in triage would determine that I was 9cm and ready to go. We waited for the doctor. Once he arrived and three pushes later our second daughter was born a little after 4am. With a head full of dark hair and not a peep, I came face to face with a little woman who was going to have an immense impact on my heart and life and the way in which I see the world.
She turns 11 today.
Her daddy bought her a bouquet of multicolored flowers. She cut them and put them in the same vase as the daffodils she gathered from our yard last week. She has – since the time she was able to walk – been bringing me the tiny little flowers she finds as she plays. She brings beautiful into the midst of our family and home causing us to pause and marvel in awe…like magic.
She is a girl who sees. She notices. She feels deeply. She gives of herself deeply into the lives of others.
She may be blonde and blue-eyed – the exact opposite of her mother in external coloring, but her fiery spirit, wit, and ways of seeing the world are much like my own. She is free, independent, brave, and kind. She tells it exactly like it is without fear or shame.
She is a little feminist in the making.
We bought a book for one of her brothers – a book for boys who like adventure. And she wondered why there was not a book like that for girls? She wondered where she could find an adventure manual geared for all kids not boys alone. A book instructing even girls on how to read a compass, how to tie a knot, how to use the stars to navigate, how to put up a tent, build a fire, pack for a hiking trip.
She wondered if they had a girl version of this adventure book, but then added, “Yes, I am sure they do, but it is probably an adventure book in how you can paint your nails, or the best way to pack for a picnic or set up for a tea party or HOW TO WAIT IN A TOWER FOR A MAN TO SAVE YOU.”
I went looking – and do you know that she was right!? The girl equivalent of that very same adventure book teaches a girl how to pack for a journey, or how to braid your hair. It teaches you how to be ladylike. Nowhere does it mention all the skills you might need to go on an adventure like Katniss, or into Narnia or Mordor, or how to wander in a wilderness for 40 years, or how to pack your hiking pack for a long journey over rough terrain.
This girl is not too delicate for rough terrain.
I am raising a daughter who will be able to do the hard things. I also pray she will be able to say the hard things and ask the tough questions.
My Daughter On Her Birthday
I love a good story. So it is little surprise that our children love a good story too. We intentionally choose tales about women who are not afraid of rough terrain. Women who have cured disease or fought in battles. Women who with a baby in one hand and sword in the other defended their homes and their families. As I see the world through her eyes, I look for brave, fierce women. I find that I am intentionally asking for female doctors or women pastors or female educators.
I am seeking out women who are living in their gifts, embracing their passions, and using their education to educate, cure, love, embrace, battle the world. Women who are living without permission or apology. Our visits to the eye doctor or the midwife, or the pediatrician or the dentist or to church– have us leaning in close to women to see how they are doing life well, pursing work, and raising families, serving their community, or leading a congregation, single or married or divorced, gay, bisexual, or straight, black, white, brown and more.
This daughter of mine takes up the riotous laughter with which I myself am known. Attempting to live a life of celebration. Far too often she will be asked, “Do you take anything seriously? Do you ever have a serious conversation?” Many will attempt to shame her for her joy… her laughter…. her light. And maybe she will be able to bravely answer the critics – I know serious, but I want to live from the overflow of riotous laughter. I want to celebrate. I want to live fully alive.
There is always time for serious. There is always going to be fear, anxiety, worry, and shame trying to keep our laughter and voices mute. Life is too serious. Life is too short. There is rarely room given for laughter and celebration and fun for the sake of having fun. There is always going to be room for you to choose the outrageous or impractical.
Faith consists of the impractical, outrageous, illogical… a bit of magic.
She is teaching me this. She is teaching me how to bravely be who I was created, crafted, shaped to be without excuses or apologies as I help her to navigate being bravely who she has been created, crafted, shaped to be without excuses or apologies.
I won’t allow her to apologize for being herself. She is not going to be living her life asking for permission.
She is not too much. Yes, sometimes she is very loud and she is bossy and she is forceful, but none of those things are “bad female character traits” in need of taming, boxing, or snipping.
- She will be able to speak up – to be heard with that voice.
- She will be able to lead, command a troop, call others to follow after her with those “bossy traits.”
- She is powerful.
- She is forceful.
- She is kind.
- She is nurturing.
- She is emotional.
She is a woman in the making. She is all the good, pure, innocent, beautiful, fun… magical things.
On her birthday and every day I pray that she will not be easily bought by the flattery, applause, charms, or material gifts of those who would seek to have her life on their terms. I pray that there will be no gift nor word nor scheme of [wo]men that will make her doubt her gifts, her purpose, her voice, her family, her life, or her God. I pray that she will learn early that she does NOT need to ask permission. She can have her life – before her God – on her own terms not mine. She already has my acceptance. She already has her father’s approval. She already has a whole host of people in her corner and on her side – not doubting, but loving and applauding, genuinely encouraging who she is HOW she is. She doesn’t need us to applaud – but we are always already cheering her onward.
I am so excited to see where she goes, and how it goes and what she discovers about herself along the way. Having the privilege to witness her becoming is one of the greatest gifts I have been given. This is a privilege. This is how we honor one another with riotous laughter, celebration, good food & drink, and abundant applause.
I am not missing this.
I love you, L. I am so proud of you. Happy 11th Birthday.
To my daughter on her birthday,