He spoke softly to me in the dark last week. It was late and silent and all our children and animals were tucked quietly where they belonged. The night was clear and I was again thankful for no curtains and the view from my pillow of sparkling stars. We snuggled under flannel sheets and I listened while he shared his heart. I’ve had to learn to force myself to listen, to be awake, to be present at hours when I naturally want only sleep. It is in those hours that he is most apt to open up. Sometimes I make myself tea just so I have a chance at being awake “after hours”. Isn’t it often the case that we marry someone who is different than us in so many ways?
He tread gently, probably knowing that his words could be misconstrued. How many times have I taken what he meant for good and by my poor reaction turned it into something it wasn’t ever intended to be? Too many to count. In the last few years, he explained, he had watched me change, watched me find my way into my own skin and become more “feminine” he said. There was a time that “feminine” wasn’t a word I’d hope to describe me, I was aiming more for independent, capable, talented. But finally, now, it was something beautiful that I could receive for what it was. Something that washed over and rested on me in the most lovely way.
My understanding of the word is still growing, changing. I used to think it meant pink and girly and sweet and that I would be a great housekeeper and wear skirts. But pink isn’t my favorite color, I don’t always smell like a girl, I sometimes laugh too hard, I haven’t dusted since we moved in last year and I love jeans. I can be all those things and still somehow exude feminine. This is the beauty of God’s design for gender roles and that we were created to reflect something that no man can. The world we live in skews and shreds this uniqueness and says we can all be just the same. But I would argue that is part of why we’re in such a mess.
Not only modeling the feminine but embracing the treasure it is to be a girl is something I’ve thought a great deal about as my oldest is ten this week and beginning to hear messages, get glimpses of why it isn’t wonderful to be a woman. I had just finished reading Half the Sky, (which every woman who cares about women should read) and the fact struck me that if my daughter was born and barely surviving in China instead of here, she would almost certainly not have lived. I fought the urge to take over her birthday party and make it an awareness event for the plight of girls around the world, as it would not have been appropriate to do just that. But riding the balance between sharing knowledge and protecting minds is a hard one.
I settled for planning a party where we would celebrate the gift of the feminine and I would make sure they knew how valued they were and how girls their age around the globe were not celebrated in the same way because they lived in a place where boys mattered more. We pulled out all the stops, set a fancy table with my wedding china and crystal, so many candles that we didn’t need the lights on, menus with their dinner options and a cupcake in their personal favorite flavor with their name on it for dessert.
After a delightful dinner where Chris and I served them their dinner selections, we cleared table and brought out the ‘party favor’ (we opted for a craft they could take home instead of a goody bag). I’d printed in varied colors and fonts their names and some of my favorite verses. Words that I wanted to sink into their hearts about who God says they are like “the Lord is your hope forever” and “You are God’s masterpiece”. They each created something beautiful with their 8×8 canvas and lots of varied paper and a healthy covering of Modge Podge!
We made sure to snap a Daddy and Rylee pic before everyone changed into pajamas…
And my pride almost kept this photo out because it sure shows how dead tired I was after the bulk of the evenings festivities were winding down, but that’s the reality of spending yourself on behalf of the ones you love sometimes, so here it is 🙂
After my sit-down with Finn I could hardly get out of the chair. I told Chris I thought the girls’ appointment for spa pedicures with me might be cancelled. He cheered me on. I got up. We made little foot baths for each sweet girl and I washed their feet and rubbed my very favorite tingly peppermint foot lotion onto their feet. The beauty of it wasn’t lost on my tired self. As I held their little feet I hoped that I could serve and love these girls in tangible ways that show love to them over this next, possibly tumultuous season of their growing up years.
I crawled to bed after this and they talked into the night like all girls do. We dined on cinnamon rolls and bacon the next morning. My heart hope is that they felt special and celebrated for who they are, not what they wear, who they look like or what they can do. I know we’ll spend considerable amounts of energy over the next many years helping that truth sink in. But at least I know that we’re laying a foundation for that now and that can only help!