Having a Daughter is Changing Me...

Ya know, you'd think I would have expected it. I've watched as over the last five years, my husband has grown in huge, gargantuan ways... becoming such a student of the Word, growing into a loving father, and continuing to amaze me as a devoted and tender husband. Having sons has given him even more motivation to be a godly, honorable man... a man worthy of imitation. But even having watched him grow, I didn't really know all of the ways that having a daughter would change me.

I'd been considering writing about this for a while, but just hadn't sat down to write... and then I came across a friend's blog post talking about the same thing. I think there are some things that just come alive in you and become much more motivating when you realize that you- YOU!- (the real you-- the one you know when no one else is around... the one who sits on the computer longer than she should... the one who takes the best cookie for herself... the one who criticizes the people around her... THAT you)... when you realize that YOU are the primary guide for this little person to know what a woman is like.

What is a woman?
The way you answer that question ("what is a woman?") will affect what changes are made in this transition. For some Christian women, it will mean intentionally striving to be more feminine... for others, it will mean growing as a woman of God- studying the Word, becoming like the Titus 2 older woman... for some, it will mean changing the way they interact with their husband or friends, and for others, it will mean other things.

But for me at least, it has changed me in multiple ways. I want to be what I will encourage her to be. As she watches me, I want her to see the possibilities of what God can do in her life. Of course, I don't have to be "perfect" (and frankly, it'd be absurd for me to try), but I don't want to settle for mediocrity and teach her that it's OK to just "get by" as a woman... to just be a minimal Christian... to just "grin and bear" domestic tasks... to feel perpetually annoyed with children... etc. Let me never be these things! Though I don't have to be perfect, I want her to see me striving for Christlikeness, striving for femininity and integrity, striving to be a suitable helper for my husband, striving to be a thoughtful and loving mother, striving to be a faithful friend to the people God puts in my life, and striving to do the things God gives me to do with a cheerful obedient heart and countenance.

I may not attain it all, but by God's grace, I hope to become a woman of noble character-- and Maranatha has been a true gift in my life by which God is refining and shaping me in a way that no other gift yet has done. If she is going to be the woman I pray God will make her to be, I must be responsive to God's leading in my life, and gracious and loving towards those in my home. As her primary example of being a woman, I feel such responsibility. It's a big task, but thankfully, He's a big God, and He takes great delight in changing us in big ways.

How have your kids changed you? Do you, too, find yourself striving to be more Christlike, and praying for more of an attitude of cheerful obedience because of the little eyes that are watching you and learning?

17 comments:

EllaJac said...

I would say that only recently, as I study and realize the monumental importance of nurturing certain elements in my daughters have I been more careful. I still struggle for a balance; I tend to recoil at some little girls' "spoiled princess" attitudes, and therefore haven't encouraged lots of girliness in my girls. They still love pink, and dresses, and dolls, but so far are relatively low on the 'drama' scale, which I am grateful for. So often "she's all girl" goes hand in hand with "spoiled drama queen" and it's easy (for me) to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But yes, I see the great importance of my role before their eyes. I am striving to let (as opposed to prod) my husband lead our family, to delight in mothering them, and (struggle to) maintain order in our home!

dcrmom said...

Very interesting perspective. I guess having a daughter doesn't seem to affect me differently than having a son. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. I am more aware of my materialism and how I focus on things b/c my daughter seems to pick up on that more. But I would also have to say that my daughter makes me absolutely CUH-RAZY. I love her to death (thinking of my older daughter who is almost 5) but I find myself saying things that are hateful and ugly to her because she is just so flighty and clutzy. It breaks my heart. I don't want to be that way. But I guess she and I are so much alike that we tend to clash.

Persuaded said...

I completely hear what you are saying, but somehow, finally having a son after 14 years of parenting was a transforming experience for me. I think because I am constantly aware that what he sees in me is what he will look for in a wife, yipes!

So, like you said... except only different, lol.

...lebendiges Lernen... said...

Hello Jess,
I think that all our children will teach us different things. We will grow through them in areas that require growing. I am very glad that I have a boy. I learned a lot through my first daughter, but wasn't so much aware to be a rolemodel as a woman so far. Through her I learned to be more strong and selfconfident, to love myself and give out unconditional love. That's very much her character, too. :-)
My second one is a boy and very precious to me. Through him I have learned to appreciate men as I always wanted but couldn't (due to my upbringing). I want to see him growing up to a thoughtful, strong, godly man - and I already see that in him. He has helped me transform to a real woman being able to honor her 'husband' (I put it like that, because I am not married -yet), and I hope that the growth will continue.
My third girl is more girlish than my first. She is shining, she is pure, she is a real gift.
Since she is here I have also changed a lot. Yes, I am becoming more feminine, somehow. I am discovering my more girlish sides. ;-) And I am able to more empathic and loving.
All my children have helped me grow in different aspects of my personality and I hope that it will continue like that. :-)

Greetings from Germany

Brenda said...

Oh yes! I have 2 daughters and no sons so I have been VERY challenged to open scripture and see just what being a godly woman is all about. I have such goals for them!!! Challenging what they will see and hear from the world is a big job.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting thought! :)

My two babies are still under the age of three, but they have definitey changed my life in drastic ways. They don't notice yet about materialism and such, but they are acutely aware of the climate of our home. And it is the mama that sets that climate! So I have been oh so cautious as to my attitudes, how I talk to my husband, etc. It is a huge responsibility.

But when I consider that I am the greatest female role model my sweet baby girl will have, I am pretty initimidated! She will learn from me how to cook and clean, run a house, see what a Godly marriage looks like, a Godly woman... It can be overwhelming to consider for me! I so want to measure up and be an excellent example for her! I know that God will equip me and is equipping me for just that. :)

Some of the best advice I ever received was: Let your children "catch" you praying, as in during your alone times with God. It will make such an enormous impact on them. Little eyes are just watching and learning and soaking up information. What better picture to give them, than of their mama praying to become more like Christ?!

-Lauren

laurie said...

I am grateful that even though I am so aware of my failings as an example to my daughter, there is One I can point to who perfectly submitted, joyfully served, and thoroughly fulfilled every duty He was called to. Of course I mean Jesus. I find hope for my daughter in His life and in His death. My earnest prayer is that our expressions of biblical womanhood would be rooted in the power of the gospel.

Leigh said...

Yes, I think about this all the time...but more so with my last three children (one of them a girl.) With my oldest daughter, I was very young, and very immature...and I don't think I really thought much beyond the moment with her. Thankfully, she has turned into a wonderful young woman despite me. :o)

Kelly said...

Great post Jess. My daughter is doing it to me too. She's at the stage of doing everything "just like mommy" and it's difficult. The other day in a rushed moment I said to our family cat, "shut up Pete" and then I hear my little girl's voice say, "shut up Pete." :-) It's a silly example but I know how you feel. I've started to dress differently, more feminine, cleaned up my potty mouth in a big way, and so many other things. Actually I should get off the computer now!

Terry said...

Motherhood has definitely changed me but because I don't have sons yet I can't appreciate if there's any difference as to how it changed me in that regard. I am however, constantly aware that I impact the women they become.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a very sweet post, Jess. I know that having children has made me more patient, & that two of them are girls has made me ever more mindful of how I present my own womanhood. I never want to appear coarse or rude. And your focus on attitude & how that comes across...very important. Do I say good morning to my family, or crab at them from the minute I wake up? Do I try always to sit up nicely, or let my posture betray my fatigue? These, & so many other things, my children have taught me, because I try to see myself through their eyes.

Brenda

P.S. Your little girl is adorable, really she is. (o:

Britt said...

Striving...that is a perfect word. It's hard to remember that I won't be the "perfect" wife or mother....it's just not going to happen. I used to beat myself up about that too...but it's great to remember that with God's help, I can get right back up when I fall. I want to teach my daughters that...God always loves us and is always willing to lend a hand :)

Anonymous said...

As a mom of three girls (so far), I do think I've changed somewhat and for the better, but not enough. I'm still the mom who feels perpetually annoyed with children, spends too much time on the computer, etc... . I WANT to enjoy being with my children, but still just don't care for being around children all that much...any tricks to getting there?

Cathy

:..Rebekah..: said...

Jess, what you've posted here rings true of my heart. I tend to get very discouraged because I'm not doing it all perfectly. I've been reading a book by C.J. Mahaney called The Cross Centered Life. As I read it the Holy Spirit is gently reminding me to keep my eyes on the cross and not on myself. This, I think, is the most important thing that I can teach my 3 daughters and my son with my life. As with you, God has used my children to draw me closer to him, and also to reveal things in me that he wants to change. This is a wonderful post. Have a blessed day!

Brandy said...

Another excellent and challenging post! My daughters have helped me to be kinder to my husband, because I want them to one day be kind to their husbands.

shannon said...

I completely know what you mean, Jess. I see one of the huge blessings of having children is how the Lord has used them to refine this wretched mother's heart! I still have a long way to go, so maybe I still need to have a lot more babies! :)

Anonymous said...

This is for Cathy. I know you said you don't care so much for being around children, but please try to remember that they want to be around you! (o: One thing that may help you is simply to invite them into YOUR activites. I think it's a huge stressor for parents who might think that every minute spent with their children has to be Play-Doh time, or playing with building blocks together. Not true! Those can be good things to do together, but are sometimes challenging for parents who really don't get into playing.

When you're making a meal, give your little girls a bowl & spoon & they can "cook" along side you. If you do crafts, set up an area where they do their own creations at the same time you do yours. This was a good way for me to get a little bit of sewing done...my first daughter loved playing with fabric scraps, so I gave her a larger piece of cloth, a glue stick, & the box of scraps, & she made a "quilt" by gluing small pieces to the larger one.
And don't forget about ordinary things such as helping to pair up socks, fold napkins, or other easy items in the clean laundry basket. Gardening together, shopping together, etc., all will help your girls feel a part of your life. In turn, you will become more used to them, & from being used to them, liking can grow.

Please do not beat yourself up about this. I'm sure you love your girls. But don't wait until they are half-grown before you decide that your children are a good thing to have around. You want to form a good foundation of young childhood for their future years...and yours!

Best of luck!
Brenda