If These Walls Could Talk
Words to Live by
She turns seven this month. Getting her here took longer than we thought and started with a year of disappointment. It wasn’t until we were in the midst of the first stages of infertility testing that we were blessed with a positive at-home pregnancy test. Although I didn’t want to hear it at the time, my loved ones were right—it happened once I gave up control and got out of my own way. Our girl was the first grandchild on my side of the family, and it had been six years since the last grandchild was born on my husband’s side. She had everyone’s attention at all times, and we relished in her every move.
Over the past few months, I have taken time to reflect on the last six years. As first-time parents, we made some great decisions. We also made some not great decisions and had to learn our lessons and change the course. I don’t hide our mistakes from our children because I want them to learn some humility and realize Mom and Dad aren’t perfect. And because we aren’t perfect, we don’t expect them to be either. There are some ground rules, though, that I want our daughter to carry with her always. When times get hard or she is not sure which road to take, surely the guide to her answer lies somewhere in these words. And maybe somebody else needs to hear them as well.
In honor of your birthday month, here are seven rules to remember, my girl...
- You are to be treasured. Surround yourself with people who make you want to be a better person. Be friends with those who cheer for you and celebrate your victories. And for those who aren’t happy for your success or may be ugly to that big, beautiful heart of yours… be kind to them. Right now, you have the most precious friends who send you videos of excitement when you are chosen as the school’s student of the month. These are the same people you ask to FaceTime when they’re home sick from school, so you can check on them and tell stories they missed from the day. Nurture and protect those relationships. There will come a time when you date a boy and I want you to never, ever settle for someone who does not think of you more than he thinks of himself. First, he should love Jesus, then you. He should respect you. He should respect his parents, too. Your daddy is setting the example for how you should expect to be treated, and that bar is high. Bonus points if he plays golf or likes the Razorbacks. Do not accept anything less than wonderful. You are to be treasured, sister.
- Stay healthy. Your genetic makeup is heavy with some chaos, honestly. If you fall behind your daddy, you are likely to struggle with terrible allergies and poor vision, but you will have a great metabolism and strong teeth. If you toggle more onto my side, you may face issues with anxiety and have a lengthy dental record, no matter how many times you floss or keep a perfect brushing record. Health isn’t just physical, and it looks different on everyone. There is a lot of pressure on women these days in the department of “health.” Cut the size tag out of your clothes because it’s just a number. Your body is strong and can do incredible things. Be good to it! Continue to drink a lot of water and please, please find a green vegetable you like. Keep your mind healthy and always read books. Go to bed at a reasonable time, take your vitamins and find a blessing in every day.
- We will always love you. Read that again because it is important—we will ALWAYS love you. There is nothing you can do or say that would change that. Ever.
- Some seasons will be hard. You are tender right now. You’re quick to happy cry at good news and can get disappointed just as easily. Your feelings were recently hurt when someone asked why your adorable southern voice sounded like a boy. However, do you remember your response? “Because God made me this way.” Don’t forget that kiddo, because as you grow up, things just get harder. Heartbreak, illness, confusion and choices become heavier. God is never surprised by what you’re going through or how you’re feeling, though. Cling to Him. In the words of one of your favorite people, “you are strong, and you are brave.” Remember, seasons change, and whatever difficulties you face will not last forever.
- Embrace your roots. Listen, my girl, you come from a long line of strong Southern women. I cannot wait to watch Steel Magnolias with you and teach you how to cook family recipes. Maybe one of them will become your staple meal because you will need one of those when someone is sick, or you are throwing a last-minute get-together. Always have a funeral dress in your closet and a pair of pearls in your jewelry box. One of these days, you may have children of your own and you will coddle them while they cry, but just for a moment. Then you will tell them to swallow their cry, find someone who needs help, and help them… just like your grandmother told me and her momma told her. You might also repeat ridiculous sayings like, “it’s as cold as a minkajumpin” or “if you hit your mother, your hands stick out of the grave when you die, and buzzards eat them off” because those were also passed down. We don’t know where the phrases came from, but they have been told by the matriarchs of our family who loved big. Embrace it, sister.
- Things are just things. Place your value in relationships, not your material items. You are not defined by what you have, but by who you are. Please do not let someone else set the standards for your happiness. Also, please do not go into debt thinking you need all the expensive things or have to go on the lavish vacations. It is perfectly fine to skip a social event if you do not want to go. Purge your belongings regularly and donate those in good condition to someone who needs them. We could actually do a better job of that now, as your bedroom bookshelves are packed with trinkets and other things you have hoarded. We will work on that.
- Call your momma. There is a piece of artwork hung in our house that says, “Sweet darlin’! If you call your mother every day you will go to Heaven!” I haven’t found that passage in scripture just yet, but I wouldn’t risk it if I were you.
My girl, it is my greatest joy being your mother. You make me want to be a better person and to stay healthy. Your tenderness and love for life makes the world a better place and please don’t ever change your southern accent. I love watching you lead “The Brothers” and dance with your daddy. You have all three males in our home wrapped around your finger. You make me proud every single day and I will love you with all I have, all my life. Happy birthday, Gabbie Jane! You’re my favorite girl in the world.