My 17 year old made this for me last year. My handwriting sits at the top, followed by my mom’s, followed by her mom’s.
My girls are growing up. They haven’t had a grandma around to love and spoil them. To tell them stories of who I was as a little girl or to speak life into them when they struggle. They no longer have a great-grandma to tell stories of the way things used to be, to help put things into perspective, or to demonstrate what growing old with grace and joy might look like.
They’re stuck with me.
And very often I have fallen short of the mom and example I wanted to be. I have yelled and acted selfishly, lived with distraction or simply been too tired or hurting to offer much of anything beyond necessity.
But if you ask them, I don’t think they’d hold any of that against me. And while maybe they will need to work at forgiving me for some hurts when they are older, I think mostly they will know that they have been deeply loved. And I hope that when they are grown – and if ever they are moms themselves – they will remember to offer themselves the same grace that they pour out upon their sons and daughters.
I hope they will remember that relationship is not about perfection at all. But it is about showing up over and over again, and practicing, and letting yourself be forever changed by the people you share life with.
Because they really do change you. You soften and learn to breathe a little easier. I mean, you also forget and need to be reminded often that all will be well. But you lean a little more into the process of learning to love. And be loved. Because honestly, I think maybe we do a better job at loving our little people than we do at accepting unconditional love for our broken selves.
They teach you to grieve and laugh, to see the best in another human being and how to finally begin to grow up yourself. They teach you to loosen your grip and to pray a lot even when your faith has been rocked, and to want to help make the world a kinder place for these people you chose to bring into it.
They ask you to trust, and let go but never give up, and also to remember that they come to you an amazingly formed personality and you should not be so quick to take credit for all their brilliance. Or their struggle.
Because they will struggle. And they should struggle. How else do we develop conviction and character?
So I wonder at the legacy I hope to pass to my two daughters. I wish they had the gift of women older and wiser than I.
But since it is up to me, if I could give them three wishes, they would be:
1. To understand that they are hand-hewn, a little rough yet around the edges perhaps, but expertly crafted with gifts embedded deep within and for a purpose. They don’t have to earn their place in this world and there is no need to compare; they can walk with quiet dignity and confidence.
2. That they would be beauty seekers – that they would hunger after beauty and see what others pass by; that they would call forth beauty in others and use their gifts to mirror it back to a hurting world.
3. That they would love fiercely – not just their own but other people too. People who don’t always seem to deserve it. People who are messy and hungry and broken just like the rest of us.
And now, as I come to the end of my rambling thoughts, I realize that these are the very lessons my daughters have taught me.