There'll be about four or five of them. I hope they inherit the wild curls of their father, paired with my ocean blue eyes. I envision nights adorned with the reading of Carolyn Keene, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, and Louis Lamour. They'll drift off to sleep with images of detectives solving crimes, wizards fighting for what is right, Aslan saving Narnia, and a good ole' cowboy duel. When summer arrives, we'll pack up and head west for hiking, camping, sightseeing, and more hiking. The plateaus of Utah, the white topped mountains of Wyoming, and the evergreen forests of Washington will mold our children. They'll be kind, courageous, selfless, individual, passionate, understanding, loving, intelligent, well-read kids.
Excuse me as I hide my face due to my hypocrisy.
The Seminary Student and I do not have children yet. Although we foresee it being quite some time before we finally take that step, I find myself daydreaming of what our family may look like someday. I especially dream of what type of person my future daughter(s) may be. There are three layers of silliness here I feel must be addressed before anyone can continue reading:
- There is no guarantee I will ever give birth to or adopt a daughter; therefore, throughout this post I will refer to this "daughter" as a "potential" child because there is some potential for this child to exist as of now.
- There is no amount of daydreaming I can complete to manufacture a daughter to my liking.
- If she were to exist, she would not be immune to sin or insecurity.
Now that I've gotten those ridiculous, obvious issues out the way, I proceed.
Here's the thing: I do desire a daughter who enjoys the simple things in life. I actually do hope I can shield her from the material, shallow parts of life. I hope she likes to be outside. I hope she doesn't obsess about makeup and clothes. I hope she's kind to people. I hope she is empathetic and understanding toward those around her. I hope she is a good steward of what she has. I hope she works hard to earn what she wants. I hope she never feels entitled to anything. I hope she's adventurous. I hope she values education and intelligence. I hope and pray all of these things for her. However: if I hope and pray for all of these things for her, why do I not hope and pray for all of these lovely things for myself? One can acknowledge a parent will influence their child most. If this is true, how do I justify praying that my daughter be a woman of all women, but I do not pray this same prayer for myself?
The answer is simple: despite not having children yet, I already hope these potential children are better than I ever will be. At the same time, the answer is complicated: I think so little of my abilities to fight sin and evolve, that I have given up hoping to be better than I am now. This is ridiculous. The first paragraph of this post holds an image of my ideal family experience, paired with all the hopes I have for my future daughter's personality. Therefore, the question I must ask myself is this: why do I avoid pursuing this beautiful life and character for myself?
- To break it all the way down from the beginning would look like the following:
Why don't I read each night before bed? Why don't I take a road trip out west with my husband to drink in the beautiful Utah plateaus? Why do I assume I am not capable of being a kind, courageous, selfless, individual, passionate, understanding, loving, intelligent, and well-read person? What is stopping me from embracing the value of hard work and my worth in Christ? When will I start defending the weak and seeking justice wherever I find myself? Why can I not enjoy the simple things in life, or protect myself from materialistic obsession? The incredibly freeing and inspiring aspect of this particular issue is that I can; because of Christ, I possess the ability to do all of these things. I am unsure when the wires crossed, but adults tend to give up on themselves, and they put all their hope into who their children are or will be. They hope their children live life larger than they did. They can only pray their children will grow up to be better people than they ever thought they could be.
- Here's the overall, central question:
How do I expect my future, potential daughter to exist as a beautiful combination of all the previously listed traits, if I do not show her how? If I desire for her to enjoy the simple things, I must first enjoy them. If I hope to shield her from materialism, makeup, and clothing, I must first guard my own heart against finding fulfillment in such trinkets. If I want her to be kind, generous, empathetic, and understanding, I have to show her how to live in such a way. If I want her to travel and live adventurously, then I'm going to have to teach her how. This change in thinking applies to all I listed previously. I have to teach her. Before she can grow into this type of woman, she must first watch me live my life in this way. It does absolutely no good for me to hope she is better than I'll ever be.
I must grow and evolve, giving this potential person an example to follow. I must stop creating horribly high standards for my future, potential daughter, and start living up to those standards myself.
This whole idea was a difficult concept to put into words, and there's a chance I may be the only one thinking of these things (probably not). It's incredibly abstract. Moreover, this problem of creating high standards for our (future) children is one so ingrained in us; we may never realize we produce such thoughts. However, I am thankful this era of life involves growing in subtle, meticulous ways toward what this post embodies. Before I can ever expect my "maybe-future-potential" daughter to be the type of person described in this post, I now realize how important it is for me to be molded into this person first.
Does anyone else find themselves in this season of life? To the moms out there: what advice would you give to those of us who are in a season of preparation for children?