My daughters’ lives are still blank pages. Every day they have new dreams for the future. Art teacher. Missionary. Mom with 10 kids (5 boys and 5 girls, to be precise). Librarian. Store clerk. Wildlife photographer. The girl who cleans teeth at the dentist’s office.
I don’t know what to tell my daughters. I know that they probably can’t do all these things, and certainly not all at once. But I don’t want to tell them that yet.
Though I write often about being a stay-at-home mother (a choice I made after being a working mom for several years), I in no way want them to feel that this is a choice they must repeat. I would hate for them to think that godly femininity is a one-size-fits-all shape.
There are foolish choices I hope they don’t make, disappointments I hope they don’t have to face, and tragedies that I hope never befall them. But outside of that, I don’t have a strong opinion about what they choose to do with their lives.
I don’t want them to think they have to choose between career and children, but I also don’t want them to think they can “have it all.” I don’t want them to think marriage and family life are necessary steps on the road to fulfillment, but neither do I want them to think the pursuit of a career will fulfill them. Some day I will have to tell my daughters that they are going to have to make some tough choices and some of their dreams are going to have to be sacrificed so that they can pursue other dreams.
I want to teach them that there is something beautiful in learning to respond to each opportunity with openness, looking for the beauty and potential in the life you’re living. I want to surround my girls with examples of godly women: women who are single and women who are married, women with biological children and adopted children and women with no children. Women who have successful careers and women who pour all their energy and talent into taking care of their families. Women who express their creativity as a profession and as a hobby. Women who find ways to create beauty and order in the world through good food or flower gardens or volunteer organ playing or well-kept homes or meticulous spreadsheets or advocacy or foster parenting or art or poetry, whether or not they are getting paid to do so. Women who love the Lord and receive from His hand both good and disappointing events. Women who can “laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25).
I probably write about being a stay at home mom too much, but it is one of the ways in which God has been teaching me about myself. When I was worshipping in church a few Sundays ago, it suddenly struck me that my role as a stay at home mom was a lot like learning to sing the alto line in choir. Here is an essay that Morning by Morning published a few weeks ago that explains my thoughts on learning to enjoy singing background vocals instead of the solo. I don’t intend to glorify stay-at-home motherhood. It’s one role for a godly woman to play, and I want to do it well. I want my daughters to see past the work I do to the heart behind it, a heart that is willing and capable of finding joy in any circumstance.
I won’t tell my daughters what to write on the blank pages of their lives. I prefer to fill their imaginations with big ideas and wait to see what they’ll sketch for themselves.