Thoughts on Being Wife & Mother: A Letter to My Daughter

While I'm sharing about childbirth and labor experiences, I thought I'd share a letter about these things that I recently wrote to my daughter, in her celebration book. (I don't really keep a "baby book", per se, for her. I started a memory book for her to record her major "firsts" and anything I or others want to share with her for her to read as she grows to be a young woman.) So here's the letter I wrote a couple weeks ago, as I began to prepare for the end of this pregnancy:

*******
Being a wife and mommy, Maranatha-- there is NOTHING like it!

I'm no expert. I've been a wife for almost 8 years and a mom for almost 6-- but I'm telling you- WHAT an adventure! This silly "modern" world will tell you that 'you can do anything a man can do'-- and to some degree, they've made it so that that's true (although men still have the corner on being daddies!). :-) But here's what they don't tell you: you can do some things, Maranatha, that NO man can do.

If God allows it, you can carry a baby inside your very own skin- feeling his or her little feet and fists and knees draw circles on the inside of your belly. You can lay in bed and marvel at this precious child inside of you in a way that no man will ever know. You can nurse a little one-- and know the joy of being used by God to nurture and sustain the life of a darling little human, created by God in His image.

Oh, and Maranatha-- there are so many things God teaches us through these roles of wife and mother.
  1. These roles connect us to God. *When you've literally given up your name and identity to submit and be a helper for the husband God gives you, what a picture that is of how we should be all the more submissive to and identified with Christ! *When you've poured out every drop of energy, sleep, breastmilk, love and attention that you possess for a little person who (at 3-4 weeks old) still doesn't even smile at you-- you have a sense of how much God gives us, though we do absolutely nothing for Him. *When your child is sick or in danger, you begin to comprehend how DEEPLY God loves us. *When you have a second child, you begin to understand how God can love each of us SO intensely, though we are all so different from one another.
  2. These roles connect us to Jesus' birth and life. *How sweet it is to have a baby growing inside of you and reflect on what Mary must have felt and dreamed for the baby Jesus in her womb. *How amazing to consider that this young Hebrew girl didn't have babycenter.com or "What to Expect When You're Expecting" or parenting classes at the hospital-- and yet, God gave her a cousin to assist through the labor & delivery of John the Baptist, so that she (a virgin) might be ready for this pain and work of bringing a baby into the world. *How sweet to nurse my babies, inspecting each hair swirl and toe and gazing into their eyes, and try to identify what Mary must've felt as she did these same things, knowing that THOSE hair swirls, toes, and eyes were formed, NOT by two humans' intercourse, but by GOD! * And I don't yet have a 33-year-old son, but I imagine I will one day be able to reflect all the more on Christ's death by considering Mary's anguish as a mother at the cross.
  3. These roles connect us to the Word of God. As a wife and mother, we are so connected to these stories of the women of the Bible, and can far better understand so much of the Word of God as we grow as women. *Hannah's longing for a child, *Sarai's quickness to "fix" the problem of not having a son, followed by her rage and jealousy towards Hagar, *Hagar's sorrow for Ishmael, when she thought they would die in the desert, *Rebekah's nature of trickery and manipulation on behalf of her son-- (your love for your children -if you don't submit that to God- can cause sin in your life!), *Rachel's intense jealousy and hatred of her own sister, all over children and jealousy (you'll see when you get to be a mommy one day-- comparisons KILL!), *Song of Solomon--what a wonder it is to love a husband and be able to draw insight from the Word about human and divine love, *Verses that compare God to a mother caring for children or nursing her baby.
Precious one, there is so much this world wants to 'teach' you, and there will be so many things that will vie for your heart and mind-- but I would urge you with all of my heart and mind to seek out the ways of God instead.

Instead of trying to be like a man, be the whole and complete woman that GOD MADE YOU to be! And Maranatha, that may or may not include being a wife. It may or may not include having biological children. It may or may not include breastfeeding. These things are all precious gifts from God, and they are indeed what women are designed for.

But, baby girl, whatever God crafts you for-- do it with ALL your heart and ALL YOUR MIGHT-- as a woman who longs to better know and please God through your experiences in this sinful (but still beautifully created) world.

Don't buy the lies that your worth is found in "breaking down barriers" of gender. Trust the way God designed you and let HIM direct your path. Oh how I love you, precious one. I can't wait to see what God will do with you in your life.

All My Love,
Mommy

p.s.- There are many woman who have been faithful in their service for Jesus Christ who have not known what it is to be a wife and/or mother. And yet they were and are gloriously designed by God and used for HIS purposes. It is not these roles which I seek to praise-- but GOD! His designs and purposes for us are perfect-- whatever they do or don't include. I praise Him for His design of women- married and single alike. He has wonderfully made us!

But I share all of this as a caution for you-- don't listen to the world and its goals for your life. Seek God and HE WILL make your path straight, darling girl. He is faithful; the world is fickle. TRUST HIM!
*******

And I pray God's blessings will rest on you, as a woman, wherever God has you on this path of womanhood. His plans for us are amazing and we will do well to trust HIM no matter where it leads.



***** Author's Note: This letter was published in 2008 on the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website (cbmw.org), but they have since reorganized their website, and the link is no longer active. *****

24 comments:

Jaime said...

Beautiful letter!

Terry said...

Absolutely lovely. And true, too!

:..Rebekah..: said...

How beautiful, Jess. Thanks for sharing this.

Tracy said...

I loved the birth stories, but this is an amazing letter, Jess!

Laura said...

So sweet and lovely.

My dad wrote letters to me when I was an infant to be read on various birthdays -- I think milestones like 5, 10, 13, 16, etc., plus a few more. He kept them in our safe-deposit box at the bank. I remember blotting tears through the older ones especially. It's a wonderful idea, and one I think you should continue!!

Mrs. Bethany Hudson said...

Jess,
That is so beautiful, and spot on. Clearly, your desire is for your daughter to seek God's Will, not to fill any cookie-cutter image of a wife and mother. Your heart is truly in the right place.
~Bethany

Kelly said...

Oh Jess, what a lovely letter. Thank you for sharing.
I've been writing letters once a year to my girl, mostly focusing on things she's done in the past year and what it was like to be a mom. Your letter gives me new inspiration to write something to the future as well.
Thanks,
Kelly

Johanna said...

What a wonderful idea to write letters to your daughter like this. Do you write them for your boys, too? I know a daughter will love reading these thoughts, and I am wondering how much my sons would treasure them...But I think I would treasure them if I wrote them! Beautiful letter!

Britt said...

Can you adopt me, please??

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

This letter is beautiful! I have been writing letters to Peapod since she was in utero and look forward to sharing these bits of writing with her in the future.

Jess, am I a bad person if I am a bit disappointed when I see your updates right now? I keep checking your blog in hopes of hearing your precious little Silas has made his grand debut! ;D

Jess said...

Laura,
That's a great idea (what your dad did)-- thanks for sharing about that great tradition!


Johanna,
I've kept more traditional "baby books" for the boys... until we moved overseas, that is. Those big notebook-style baby books are too big to lug around the world. ;)

But in those books, we did write them letters before and after they were born-- sharing our prayers and desires for their lives. Mostly, though, it's the traditional "these are the dates you got each tooth, etc.", which hopefully a future daughter-in-law might be able to use to gauge what's "normal" for babies in our family.

For Maranatha, though, I wanted to combine those things with a place for me to write down the things I'm learning as a mom and what she's like-- things that she'll look back on and be able to draw insight from as she becomes a young mom one day. So this is like a journal-style book with milestones recorded but also a LOT of letters-- about what she's doing now, what her personality is like, things I've noticed about the differences between her and the other children we have, etc. I enjoy keeping it and I don't feel the pressure of keeping up with the date of every single tooth or every time she grows an inch taller. :)


Britt,
You made me laugh! :)


Amy,
No, I'm not offended at all-- in fact, you can have all the "contracty" (a fun word my friend Kim used yesterday) thoughts on my behalf as possible, and I will have nothin' but love for ya! :)

Melissa said...

This is a lovely idea for your daughter. Would you or have you done something similar for your sons?

Jess said...

Hi Melissa-
Johanna asked the same question. You can see my response to her in the comment above yours. :)

~Jess

Joy said...

What a blessing this letter is- here I am 26 and it was speaking to me. What a treasure this will be for Maranatha!

This, especially struck me on a day I was beating myself up for not being as good as another mom:
His designs and purposes for us are perfect-- whatever they do or don't include. I praise Him for His design of women- married and single alike. He has wonderfully made us!

Leigh said...

What a BEAUTIFUL letter for your daughter! That is an amazing gift.

Carol G said...

This made me weep. I am forwarding it to my 18 year old twin daughters to read as well, if you don't mind, I want them to see how wonderful it can be. You expressed it to your daughter so beautifully.
Thank you for sharing it with us.

yoshi3329 said...

what a beutiful letter that ouy gave you daughter!

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Sky Farmers Market said...

Just wondering if there is any baby news?

Sheri aka kitchenmaid said...

What a sweet mama you are! I'm eager for you to have a new wee one to hold in your arms very very soon!

Anonymous said...

That was a very beautiful letter. I do disagree with parts of it though. I'm sad that you're teaching your daughter that she has to give up her identiy to submit and help her husband. That isn't Biblical. In the Bible it says that "two become one" - not that the wife morphs into her husband (yeah, i know, that sounds weird, wasn't sure how to word that)... Actually, in "Bible-times" the woman kept her name most of the time - so she still had her identity to her parents. And I disagree that this is the only role a woman has - to be a helper for her husband.

Great letter though. It is cool how our life experiences bring us closer to understanding God and the stories of the Bible :)

Sara Ann

Jess said...

Sara Ann,
Thanks for stopping by.

Frankly, I can't imagine why it would make you sad that I'm teaching my own daughter things that come directly from the Bible. Never in my letter did I say that she would stop being herself-- quite the contrary! God creates each of us as individuals because there are specific things He can reveal through each of our individual expressions of being created in His image. But the Bible does teach women to submit to their husbands. And Eve was created as a helper to her husband. Whether or not it "gels" with modern American views of women, there is a clear biblical intention for wives.

The world over, there are young women being taught all kinds of sexual and horribly sinful ways to live their lives... it humors me that you would take issue with my thoughts on this. But really, it just sounds like you need to peek around my blog some to see more of where I'm coming from. Perhaps we'll still disagree but at least you'll understand why.

~Jess

Anonymous said...

I guess my problem is that too many woman view themselves as secondary to their husband when that is NOT how God created it.
In Hebrew, the word used to describe Eve (as a helper) was "ezer" and God called Himself this when He came to Israel's aid!! Certainly God is not secondary!

Ephesians, (where the verse about Submitting is located), was written to a certain population of people at a certain time. If you take the book in context you will see that it was a letter written by Paul to a certain people at a certain time. That does not mean that it applies to all poeple. Not that submitting is bad, but if taken in the wrong context - it can be bad. I don't think that you do or strive to do EVERYTHING that Paul says for the people to do in his letters - do you cover your head in worship?

I NEVER would have gotten married if my husband interpreted the Bible that way. It's not because I have an "American mindset." I think it's silly that a woman can do anything and be anyone if she's single, but if she gets married, then she becomes only a submissive servant. I know you'll say that you find joy in that and that I would too if i just "submit", but that's not true. I would be miserable. God created everyone differently. For you, your life is just the way you like it, but I would be miserable in that role.

Sorry, i didn't mean to seem as if I was attacking you. You write some great stuff and your blog is great. I'm just tired of women being treated like dormats and taking it as if that's the way God intended it.

Sara Ann

Anne said...

I love this idea. What a treasure your little girl is going to have when she gets older. We wrote a letter to both our girls when they were dedicated. But I love the idea of writing them more often!Thanks for inspiring me.

Jess said...

Sara Ann,
Equating complementarianism with "women being treated like doormats" is extreme and misleading.

You say women are not created to be secondary to men, and yet you conveniently overlook that the man is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. The church is certainly not ever in charge of Christ. Nor would the church be in the right to "demand" equality with Christ. Christ has made us His joint heirs, but the church doesn't rise up and assert her rights or authority.

There is a right and biblical order to things, and God is the one Who created man as the head of the family, and the wife as his helper. It's not a doormat role- it is a different role. And it IS GOd's design.

I really don't want to or intend to debate complementarianism here. There are much better and more well-informed forums for discussing and learning about that... at the Bayly blog for example, and at the Gender blog at CBMW.

But the truth is, Sara Ann, that if we take your view of Scripture, then we can "contextualize" and "culturize" away every command of the Bible and would end up with no moral authority that carried any weight in our lives. I do hold a complementarian view of the marriage relationship, and of men's and women's roles in general. So if you don't, and you find yourself offended by what I've written, you may just need to find other blogs that are more in line with the view of Scripture you hold to.

Blessings,
Jess