Friday, May 11, 2012

Lessons for My Daughters

Are there lessons that you would like to pass on to your children; things that you've learned along the way? I'm pretty sure all parents (except maybe the sketchy ones at Walmart) wish that their children might have an easier road to travel than they did.  My wish for the little girls you see above, is that their journey to adulthood might be a bit easier, with fewer growing pains, than mine had.  When I think of all the suffering I experienced as a young woman, trying to navigate my way through this life, I am seized with a fear I can only assume is motherly concern for my children and what the future may hold for them.  Life and I did not come to a truce until I was about 27, after my first daughter was born.  Her birth gave me a short reprieve from my growing pains.  I heard someone once say that holding your first born for the first time is like holding your own soul.  That's how I felt.  I know it sounds cliche and not at all feminist, but the truth is I didn't have the first damn clue about who I was until Savannah was born.  My daughters have made me a kinder, less judgmental, more compassionate, and most importantly,  a grateful, human being.  Of course, one would hope that they can figure this stuff out before they have children.  Please, God!!

I have this random collection of quotes that I've jotted down and crammed into a notebook since Savannah was born; things I'd like my kids to remember.  Don't worry! This isn't going to be all Tuesdays with Morrie.  Geesh! I hope I'm not going anywhere until I am old enough to lose all sense of propriety! 

But, you've got to write this stuff down, you know?  I just don't sound nearly as smart in person.   

  The Important Stuff

1. "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time." Maya Angelou 
Boy, will this one ever come in handy. Women are such fixer uppers.  We just love a challenge; especially when it comes to men.  But here's the thing.  How much heartache would we save if we just took a person's word for who they are? I wish someone had told me this before I became a target for every loser within a twenty mile radius upon hitting puberty.  Girls, just do yourself a ginormous favor and hold out for the one who doesn't need a personality makeover; it's so much easier on the heart.

2. Surrender your future to God.  His dreams for you are so much bigger than the ones you have for yourselves. "You can do what you can do. Then, you can get out of the way because you're not the one who does the work."
Sadly, I have forgotten where I read this quote, but ain't it the truth?  I spent most of my twenties thinking that if I could just sit God down for a face to face chat, then I could explain why my plan for my life was so much better than His.  And you know what?  That's a bunch of crap.  I could never had dreamed this kind of life for myself.  I just don't dream that big.  And the road here was unbelievably painful, but I'd do it all again to arrive where I am today. 

3. "Don't dress like a commodity or behave like one.  God made you so much more than a body." 
I am paraphrasing here, but this one is from our pastor, Andy Stanley.  What is it about teenage girls that turns them into approval seeking missiles?  It's like this innate desire, fueled by pop culture, to win the attention of a man.  Girls, just remember that you teach people how to treat you.  When you use provocative clothing and behavior to attract a guy, you will attract a guy who is interested in just that; the body you are advertising and not much more.  You are a daughter of God, His own perfect creation, and most importantly, so much more than a body.

4. "Don't expect others to validate you. Show up knowing your own greatness and allow others to celebrate it with you." I read this when I was about 25 in a book by my favorite author, Anne Lamott.  Like a lot of young women, I didn't particularly like myself very much (this is still a work in progress!).  Lamott is this ballsy, courageous woman with an incredible spirit who taught your mother how to love her whole self, warts and all.  If you ever need help remembering how beloved you are (and a good laugh), pick up a copy of Traveling Mercies.

5. "It's not your business what other people think about you." Boy, was I a slow learner with this lesson!  Your Auntie Annie got this nugget of wisdom from a wise friend and kindly shared it with me.  Girls, I spent the better part of my young life worrying about the impression I was making on others.  No more! What a colossal waste of time and energy.  If you are living an honorable life, there is no need to take on other people's issues.  Just be kind, compassionate, and offer your worries to the One who listens.  The rest will take care of itself. 

6. "Hold off on the physical stuff for as long as possible.  Self- control before marriage equals self control after marriage." Andy Stanley
Girls, one day, you will meet someone who sucks all of the air out of the room, and makes you stomach flip flop with just a thought.  You will assume this is love.  Especially after a kiss that literally makes you see stars.  Here's the thing.  This magic is actually called lust, and it can be fleeting.  It makes people crazy and simpleminded (your Dad still has this effect on me).
Real love happens with trust, faithfulness, admiration, patience, kindness, and all of the other virtues you hope to find in a partner.  When you wait to find those things in a person, and THEN you throw lust into the mix...well, damn.  That combination is incredible and SO worth the wait!
Just remember this: you will often meet women who wish that they had waited to have sex with the right kind of man.  But, you will never meet a woman who regrets waiting for him.

7. Always listen to the tiny voice inside you; especially when it says, "Run!" There is a little voice that lives inside you that will guide you in the right direction if you are wise enough to listen to it.  In my experience, when you don't listen to it, the voice gets louder and louder until one day, it just rolls over you like a semi.  Don't wait for the semi! Just listen the first time.
When I was a teenager, I met the wrong kind of boy at a always starts that way. I had no romantic interest in him, but thought we could be friends.  Despite the whisper inside me saying, "He calls too much! He's too touchy feely! He doesn't want to be your friend." I agreed to meet him for lunch at a Burger King near his house.  The energy around him was all wrong.  I still remember those intense blue eyes that could drill a whole though a person.
Your Mom was always a nice girl.  I didn't understand that it was okay to hurt someone's feelings or make them angry if they made you uncomfortable.  This is not because your Grandma didn't teach me any better- I think I just inherited the "nice, southern girl" gene.
Against my better judgement, I gave this boy a ride home.  When I realized that no one else was inside the house, my little voice got shouty and I decided to leave.  By the time I reached the back yard, he was becoming loud, angry, and insisting that I not leave.  When I tried to calm him down and engage in a conversation, he tackled me to the ground.  As I lay in the grass, with him on top of me, my arms pinned down, I was too stunned to move or scream.
* God forbid you find yourself in this situation, your brain will try to rationalize his behavior.  Maybe if you are still, quiet, and "nice" enough, he will realize his mistake and let you go.  This is NOT the case.  Instead, you need to fight like hell: go for the eyes, ears, balls...whatever it takes.
I am convinced to this day, that I was only saved from sexual assault by a little boy and girl who were playing outside in a neighbors yard.  The sounds of their laughter distracted him long enough for me to get away.  As I ran for my car, he followed and I remember shutting the door on his arm as I started the car.
I could tell you other stories.  Every two minutes in the U.S., someone is sexually assaulted. Girls, you don't need to be a "nice" girl.  You parents would rather you be a safe girl who speaks her mind, without reservation. 

8.  "When you know better, you do better." Maya Angelou
Your Grandmother says this a lot and I believe that it is true.  When I was younger, I was a bit too self righteous and judgmental. It is easy, when you are very young to believe that the world is black and white with few shades of gray.  Now that life has knocked me down a few pegs, (totally needed it) I'd like to think that I am a softer, more compassionate person.  People generally do the best they can in this life.  And we screw up.  All the time.  But my faith tells me that it is not by my actions that I am redeemed; instead, it is by my faith alone in God's sacrifice.  When you are tempted to give up on someone or condemn them for their mistakes remember this:

Matthew 7: 1-5 "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

This is a verse that we Christians are great at conveniently forgetting.  Try to focus on this:

John 13: 34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

Because you never know whose shoes you'll be walking in one day! 

Do you have any words of wisdom to pass along?  I'd love to hear about them.   


  1. Kate, what a beautiful post! I pray that the words of wisdom we have for our children will save them a lot of heartache as they grow. Hopefully, keeping them in God's Word will keep them on a path of less hurt, or at least understanding and love during the painful times. It's good to "meet" you.

    BTW: I don't think a Tuesday's Words of Wisdom (for my children) kind of post is a bad idea. :)

  2. Thanks so much, Lena! It's great to "meet" you too. I am just starting to really get back into the Word and your blog encourages me to keep at it. : )

  3. Thank you so much, that means so much! Please let me know if I can pray for you or help in any way. :)

  4. Katie-Bug,
    I loved this Post. Such words of wisdom for your girls. You are a great Mama and they are lucky to have you. All of your life experiences--all of them, make you the exceptional woman that you are today and it's because of your path that you will lead your girls down a better one. Isn't that what we all want for our kids--for them to have it a little softer and easier than we did? I love you and I'm proud of you always.