Dear Baby Girls,
I never thought I would be so blessed as to be the mother of two beautiful, strong, smart daughters. I thought that I would bear all boys, like your daddy’s mother before me, and continue the Larry family tradition. But your daddy apparently has a talent for sharing his X-chromosomes, and so here we are, and I could not be any happier.
I admit, though, that the knowledge that I am raising not one, but two girls to be self-confident women also gives me a certain level of anxiety. I know how strong women are, but I also know that in our society, our bodies are vulnerable at times. I can anticipate some of the experiences you’re likely to have because you are female-bodied. I know what it’s like to get nervous at night walking from CVS Pharmacy to my car, clutching my keys in my right hand like they’re going to save me from an attacker. I know what it’s like to have to feel like I must justify my belonging in certain male-occupied spaces of Church and academy. I know what it’s like to watch news of an election with tears streaming down my face because America put a sexual predator into office. And while I can relate to certain experiences you may have by virtue of the fact that I’m also a woman, I know you’ll have yet more experiences of marginalization particular to the discrimination you’ll face as women of color.
Recently, for the first time, I made a police report about an inappropriate action against my person. Making that report was the hardest thing I have ever done. I was afraid of not being believed, of being mocked. I did it not because I wanted to press charges, not because I wanted revenge, but because I was thinking of you girls. I was thinking about the mother I want to be for you and the example I want to set for you. In all I do, I want to live in a way that makes manifest these things:
I want you to know that I will always believe you.
I want you to know that your bodies belong only to you.
I want you to know that no one is entitled to touch you or speak about you in a way that disregards the indisputable fact that you are created in the image of God.
I want you to know that your instincts are good and right.
I want you to know that your bodies are not the problem. The problem is the brokenness of systems and the sinfulness in human hearts—however you cast it—that abuses what is beautiful, good, and holy.
I want you to know you are beautiful, not because you have the right make-up or clothes or hair but because God made you and said, “She is good.”
I want you to know that I will always love you, regardless of whether the choices you make of what to do with your body or with whom you share it are the same or different from the ones I have made.
I love you both so much. My heart breaks for the pain I know you’ll experience at some time or other, but it swells with joy for the life that you’ve already shared with me.