Their nightstand and bookshelves tell you all you’d need to know. Anne of Green Gables, Ramona, Laura Ingalls Wilder. We have Girls Think of Everything, Rosie Revere Engineer, Not One Damsel in Distress. Harriet Tubman. Helen Keller. Sojourner Truth. Marie Curie. These are their heroes. We go through our Bible with care and find all the strong and caring and dangerous and wild and faithful women lining its pages.
My three daughters? They are strong. Independent. Fully aware they were made in the image of God, the Creator of the universe. There is no limit to what they can try and explore.
On our refrigerator is a magnet saying, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” We encourage them to explore and build and get dirt under their fingernails and marker on their arms. They try and fail and try again. They dance and twirl and laugh and yell. This is our job as a parent. This is what we love to do.
Most days I think we are doing it right. I feel confident they will grow into the strong women God made them to be and I see destiny shimmer in their eyes. We’ve provided the right opportunities and role models. We’ve been introducing them to a rich and diverse history so they can hopefully have the perspective needed to see the detailed tapestry they are a part of both now and in the future.
But I wonder if they’ve been listening to me behind closed doors. If they’ve heard me say something disparaging about myself when I think they are playing in the other room. If my face didn’t hide displeasure when finding something to wear. I wonder if they have noticed how I decline being in pictures when Sophie goes around snapping photos of the family. My goal as a mother is to raise girls who love God, love others, and are brave and here I am hiding from a picture so I don’t have to see myself. I want to accomplish big things; to be someone they can look up to and emulate. I want them to remember me as someone just as strong and brave and daring as the women they grew up reading about.
There’s a Brene Brown quote that keeps rattling around my mind when the house is quiet other than the sound of their sleeping.
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences—good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”
I don’t have exciting stories to tell my girls about the things I’ve done, but I’m gonna tell my story. I’m going to show them my heart. I’ll be honest about when I hear the mirror whisper lies and I’ll teach them how to listen for truth instead. They will keep hearing me cheer them on, and sometimes I’ll even cheer myself on as well.
And maybe, just maybe, they’ll look back at all the women they admire and they’ll remember their mom had courage.
Originally posted on March 27, 2015.