To My Daughter: A Few Notes on Being a Woman.

At my twenty week scan, I found out you were a girl. I had a mild panic. I realized I was going to raise a woman and honestly that was petrifying. It is complex being a woman. I mean I am sure it is complicated being a man too but I have never experienced that. But instead with you, I have some idea of what you will face. Hence, the mild panic.

You are only one year old right now but I already see that you are fearless and reluctant to take my help. But I am your mother so I choose to give you advice anyway. You can read these at your leisure…. you know when you can read.

1. Society is full of contradictory and complicated standards for women. Be hot, be nice, be successful, but not intimidating. Be a domestic goddess but don’t look like you are trying too hard. Make sure you have a great body etc. Let me help you out, as the woman who loves you the most, you will never meet them all. But if you turn out to be a rebel and try to shun them all you will get yourself into a guddle too. Try not to be defined positively or negatively by the standards you see around you. And yes I would even include church standards in that. We are guilty of adding definitions to womanhood that I am not sure are any more Godly than others. Instead find what is true, worth fighting for, and define yourself by that. I would call that walking by the Gospel and the fruit of that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

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2. Don’t be a gossip. There are just some opinions you shouldn’t share. If you can’t say it to someone’s face then don’t say it. We often gossip to make us feel better about our lives and our problems. ‘Look, at least I am not them.’ But inflating yourself by indulging in chat about someone else’s issues is a cheap and mean way to make yourself feel better. The Gospel calls us to a level of realization about our own brokenness so we don't consider our issues as superior to others' issues. Oh, and don’t you dare use God as an excuse to legitimize your gossip.

‘I have to tell you this so you can pray.’

That is using God’s name in vain. I will metaphorically kick your butt if I hear you do that. I am sure God is not that pleased either.

3. Please do not mistake ‘being nice’ with kindness and love. Often as women, we are taught that love equals saying the polite encouraging thing rather than the challenge in love, respectfully disagreeing, or explaining in a situation that you were hurt.

‘Oh it’s okay, you didn’t hurt me.’

‘I love it when you do that. You are so sweet.’

‘I totally agree.’

Don’t misunderstand me you have no right to dehumanize someone or take your pain out on them by hurting them. But I do challenge you to love by being truthful, having opinions, and having hard conversations. When we assume that God calls us to always say the ‘nice’ thing rather than the ‘hard’ thing we sometimes deal with that pent-up energy and frustration by venting and gossiping about someone. Say the hard thing to people’s faces so that you don’t dehumanize them behind their backs.  

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4. If you find yourself single when you would rather you weren’t, please know you are not in a waiting period before marriage. If you get married, know you have not made it to a more legitimate stage in life. Both singleness and marriage are representations of God’s love for the world. Marriage is an expression of the depth of God’s love by concentrating on one person. Singleness is an expression of the breath of God’s love by the diversity of the relationships you can build. Both require work and faithfulness to walk in healthy marriage or healthy singleness. Try not to look down on one or the other whatever your stage in life. Be friends with married people when you are single and single people when you are married. We can learn a lot from each other in community. If you are single don’t let other people assume upon your time and faithfulness. You also have relationships to build and invest in.

5.  Don’t watch porn. This is hard to summarize in a paragraph, especially as a woman because the dynamics here are varied and far-reaching. But we were designed for connection. And porn was designed to bypass connection. It was designed to give pleasure without the need for the ‘messiness’ of relationship. It is the easy way but it is also the falling short way. I will also add, that no matter how many women you know who watch it, porn was designed for men by men. You are watching something that will warp your definition of power in a relationship. And it will warp your definition of womanhood. I am pretty sure we should not learn our definition of female identity from a medium designed for men to masturbate alone in their bedrooms.  

6. You may find yourself taking your struggles in life out on your body. Either by controlling it to feel like you have some form of power in life or abusing it to walk out your pain. You might do this by restricting food, indulging in food, addiction, or self-harm. You may concentrate a lot of energy on your body to define your self-worth. This might get confused with normal ‘feminine behavior’ but women and their bodies have a complex relationship. Your body is a poor vehicle to express control and it is heart-wrenching to take your pain out on yourself. If you find yourself doing this please find someone you trust and tell them. You may not want to tell me. That is okay. Please tell someone.

Love, your mum

{Ailsa}

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