Thursday, September 12, 2013

Embracing the Pink

When I went in for my ultrasound with Hayden and it was obvious we were having a boy, I was relieved.  Sports, trucks, dirt, skinned knees - I could handle that.  The thought of having a girl utterly terrified me.  I absolutely adore my goddaughters and love being the Aunt Shusha who takes them to get manicures and little girl makeovers.  Raising my own?  Absolutely terrifying!

I did not have an easy time of it from middle school until about halfway through college.  In elementary, I was the smart kid who had a mom who picked out perfectly coordinated outfits (until fifth grade, which you can tell my picture with Santa in a print shirt and striped overalls rockin' a side pony).  I loved being the "teacher's pet" and didn't realize how that probably made me not the most popular kid. 

Middle school was filled with awkwardness, knobby knees and, despite WANTING  to be athletic, not having the coordination to actually be an athlete.  I wore thick, round glasses, had unruly hair and wanted desperately to be liked by the popular group.  My brother was one of the popular kids,  but I was not and never would be.  It was actually kind of sad how much I tried to be liked by the "in crowd" and I am VERY lucky that my friends did not leave me in the dust.  They were and are amazing women who recognized my faults and how much I just wanted everyone to like me (it's something I still struggle with).  Can you see I struggled with self-acceptance and self-esteem (like so many young girls do)? 

High school was pretty much two straight years of bad decisions due to rock bottom self-esteem, followed by two years of trying to undo the damage of the previous two years.  I was a hot mess and, looking back, I just want to shake myself and also give myself a big hug.  The young girl that I was - she wanted so badly to be loved and liked that she lost track of what really mattered and made choices that made it pretty hard for others to care about her (with the exception of a handful of ever faithful friends who stood by me and understood the reason I was all messed up inside and out).  Side note: I'm pretty open and honest but I will not talk about the reason I was all messed up inside and out.  Suffice it to say that it was something that required therapy until I was a junior in college and is something I have only shared with my very best friends.

College - well, it was exactly how college was supposed to be.  I went to Midwestern State University on a scholarship with dreams of becoming an Athletic Trainer.  My high school boyfriend/fiance and I went there together.  He didn't have an easy time with the coursework and didn't return for our sophomore year.  We broke up and I needed a fresh start somewhere I chose all by myself.  I got an academic transfer scholarship to the University of Texas at Arlington.  I went through recruitment and became a Tri Delta.  It was one of the very best decisions I have ever made.  I found myself and was able to be myself.  Through it all, I had my faithful friends to support me and I graduated with honors - with a degree in Business. One of my sorority sisters and I became roommates after I graduated and she is the one who introduced me to Chip. Thanks, Kristina!

So why was I so terrified of having a girl?  I have awesome girlfriends, an amazing husband and a healthy marriage, a strong faith, a great family and three miracles.  Well... middle and high school left quite a mark on me.  I didn't feel equipped to raise a daughter.  I would not wish what I went through on anyone.  I went through a very dark period at a pretty young age and didn't reach out for help.  I suffered from a depression that left me feeling worthless and lonely for the majority of my high school years.  I hid it all with a smile and no one had any idea of the turmoil and hurt that was on the inside.  I was VERY good at putting on a brave face and acting like everything was just fine.  I made good grades and tried to be the perfect daughter.  I was truly saved from myself by the grace of God and by admitting in youth group one night that I had once (unsuccessfully) tried to take my own life with pills due to my own self-loathing.  One of the youth group members wrote me a letter that I still have to this day that told me that I was worthy of God's grace and that God loved me WITH all of my mistakes, bumps and bruises (thanks, Bruce, you'll never know how much that note meant to me; well, I guess now you do if you ever read this).

It's amazing how God can change you and make you stronger than you ever thought possible.  After Hayden was born, I prayed pretty fervently for God to make me stronger and softer.  I prayed for Him to give me the confidence and wisdom to know what to do if I ever had a daughter.  I love my Mom and our relationship and I wanted the same one day, if it was God's plan.  I saw so many of my friends become Moms to daughters and I watched them.  I felt a peace in my heart that God would show me how to raise a strong, capable daughter who wouldn't have to go through any of the junk that I did.  I am sure that Ansley will have different struggles and hurdles that she will have to go through.  However, God blessed her with two older brothers to protect her.  Chip and I will instill in them (and her) how women are to be treated at all times.  We call her our princess and she is.  She is everything that is good and wonderful and right in this world.  She is a delight and is clothed in dignity.  She is our precious treasure that we will do everything in our power to protect and keep her pure and innocent.

Every night I pray for her (and Hayden and Dawson too, of course).  I pray that the word of God will be her most mighty tool.  I pray that the relationship she has with her Daddy will show how her she should be treated.  Chip is setting the bar pretty high for anyone who wants to court his daughter.  We will teach her to stand up for herself and to be strong and kind.  We will teach her how to shoot a gun and to defend herself should she ever need to.  She will know that we are her parents and we will discipline her out of love.  I want her to know that she can come to me with anything and I will always have her best interests at heart.  She may not always like me and I'm okay with that.  Every decision we make is to help her and is because we love her.  As much as I want to, I cannot keep her in a bubble.  What I can do is equip and empower her.  I can build a foundation and help her to know and love Jesus.  One of our friends has a song called "1,000 Faces" and it is the song I envision her dancing to with Chip at her wedding one day.  I look forward to the day that she has children of her own and I can be there for her like my own mom has been (and is there) for me.  With God, nothing is impossible.  He is helping to make me stronger and teaching me to be softer on myself with the addition of our sweet princess so I embrace the pink - wholeheartedly.

Ansley Jean - you are our treasure and we love you more than words can express.  Your first name is your Grandma Judy's middle name (Ann) and my middle name (Leigh) put together.  Your middle name is my Grandma Water's middle name and the first name of one of your Daddy's amazing aunts.  We wanted to give you a name that was strong and filled with history.  These women that you are named after - they are all kind and love Jesus.  That is my wish for you.         

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