We do our very best as we raise these kiddos, don’t we? We rise in the morning, breathe deep and choose joy through the day, we read their favorite book for the twelfth time in a row and try to model to them how to love the world.
Because these years that they are ours are so short, aren’t they? Some days feel long, some moments are hard, but really, it goes by in a blink. There will come a time that we can’t be by their side every moment; there will come a time that we have to let them learn the lessons that we only learned through living them ourselves.
As for my role in the process of building their life, these are the lessons I want to make sure our girls hold onto as we send them into the world:
: How to change a tire: both on a car and on a bike. There will come a time when you simply cannot be the damsel in distress. You’ll be late to a meeting or you’ll be in the middle of a triathlon and you’re going to need to buckle down and do it yourself. It will instill confidence within your soul that you are strong and capable.
: Offer help to others. Pick up the toy that the baby dropped at the store for his mom. Sacrifice time on a Saturday to mow your elderly neighbors’ lawn. Get outside of yourself and your own world. Show others that you are with them in this… and then be with them in this.
: You have much to offer this world. There is nobody else in the entire world like you. You are unique, you have perspective that no one else will have. Know that your voice matters; what you think, what you say, who you are, matters. So learn how to speak your mind. If you disagree with a situation, explain why in a loving way. If you have this really good idea, say it. Your words have value.
: Express gratitude. Don’t be entitled. Recognize the shoulders of those on which you stand. Say thank you to your high school teachers. The cashier at the grocery store. The person holding the door for you. Recognize your fellow human beings; we’re all in this together.
: How to summit a mountain. Or how to backpack in Utah. Or walk along a river. Get out into creation. Step far away with it, where the noise is stilled, where you can see for miles, where you feel most at peace. Use the strength and grace and agility of your body to get dirty and get tired. Stare up at the stars in the sky in the evening and recognize just how beautiful it all is and just how tiny we all are.
: Know who you are, know what you want to be about, and be sure of it. The world will try to tell you otherwise, and it can be all too easy to let the allure of those shouts drown out the still and small voice of truth. Be who you are, be true to your identity- don’t be what you think others want you to be.
: Move your body. In whatever way best suits you. It will speak to your soul and will make you feel strong. Whether it’s dancing, rock climbing, running, or gardening.
: Create. Whether it’s photography, writing, painting, or knitting. Bring something to life that wouldn’t have existed had you not taken the time, the skill, and the love to bring it forth. Find what is the most life-giving to you and then go do that.
: My baby girl, you are beautiful. Beauty is not defined by magazine covers or the number on the scale. Be comfortable in your own skin- don’t listen to any other messages you might receive. Let me and your daddy be your mirror; remember what we tell you about your beauty. Real beauty is being comfortable in your own skin and then living firmly within that identity. You are exquisite, my girl.
: Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Learn how to lose gracefully- it will be noticed and speak volumes about your character. There will be bumps in your journey. But I promise you this: hold tightly to grace, do not let go of what you know to be true. Sit in the tension, sometimes beauty shows up where it’s least expected.
: Spend time with those who are not like you. It will expand your thinking, show you different experiences on this same earth, show you that there are many different ways to live this life, and mold you into a more loving, more compassionate person. Things aren’t always what they seem; go get out of your context.
: Play your note in this world. Figure out what you love, what makes your heart beat, what you have to offer this world. Sing love into this world. Step into the places of need, the places of heartache, the places that need you.
And you, my darling, will live this life well.