names have been omitted in this post
The wipers glide across the windshield, each glide clearing away the tiny drops of rain speckling the glass. The sky overhead is dark and even though it's a quarter to eight in the morning it feels much earlier. Driving my daughter to school I access the freeway, accelerating to gain a spot in the busy morning line up of cars. Everything around us appears gray and dreary like the world has been ensconced in a gray shroud. Red tail lights light up ahead as blurry red warnings and I begin applying the brakes. I crack the driver's side window to let some fresh cool air in because the interior is stuffy.
"Mommy, did you know you can have a baby without getting married?" My daughters voice asked from the backseat. We had some of our best conversations while riding in the car. But this question made my insides momentarily panic and my hand gripped the leather steering wheel a bit harder like a reflexive reaction.
What the…. ? My mind automatically thought and I wondered what this was about. I inhaled and tried to use my breezy calm I'm not a freaked out mommy at all voice but simultaneously my mind raced.
"Oh, really? Hmm… you can?" I asked her, flicking my right blinker on so I could exit.
"Uh, huh… you can…" She affirmed "You can go to the doctor and order a baby."
Shock and a huge sigh of relief ensued. Apparently she had found out about insemination, sperm donors or the like… and wasn't referring to pre-marital sex… thank the good Lord.
"Yes, you're right… you can do that. You can also adopt a baby." I told her as I made the right turn into the residential area the school was near. We had just enough time to get through the car pool line and pull curbside.
"Yeah… so that's what I'm going to do I think. I think I'm going to order a baby." She replied very matter of fact like she was telling me she was going to have cookies with milk for an afternoon snack while doing her homework that afternoon.
I smiled to myself, tickled at her words… "Well, you can certainly do that, sweet pea. I don't see anything wrong with that." I replied and after some thought added… "Just always remember you have choices. You don't have to fit into a mold, you don't have to be limited by what you see other people doing. You can get married, you can stay single, you can adopt, you can order a baby, you can do any of those things… okay?"
She yawned and nodded, already bored with the subject and ready to move on. "Okay…" she said.
I knew if her dad had heard that conversation he'd be ready to glare daggers at me for giving her the green light in having a choice… in choosing to have a baby minus a husband… my agreeing she could just order a baby like a ham at the local delicatessen. He would say he wants her to get married. To find a nice guy. He would say he wants her to find someone better than him.
I focus on the fact she has choices
instead of trying to persuade
her one choice is the way to go
Maybe it's being a mother… maybe to be more accurate it's just being a woman. But as women we know the limits the world often tries to place on us in general… the whole list of "you should" do this, "you should" be that etc… expectations of women being demure and walking around with a smile pasted on their faces merely for the enjoyment of men's ogling eyes. Expectations that when I had a man tell me once "You would be so pretty if you smiled!" I retorted "You'd be so smart if you'd shut up!" I let my own ugly honesty hang out in that moment and even though it wasn't pretty, and I'd let my impulsive tongue loose (!) there was truth to it… as women we aren't put on this earth to caress men's lustful eyeballs with our outer beauty.
It seemed there was always someone ready to tell you what to do… in the male sense… and how to be… once when I was in my twenties I worked for a chiropractor. I didn't believe in it. I simply needed a job. I have since learned that staying true to yourself, actually believing in what you do is kind of important. But this chiropractor believed I needed my back adjusted. And no matter how many times I told him no he continued, he pushed, he wouldn't let up. Finally one day I snapped, told him exactly how unprofessional he was, called him an a**, grabbed my purse and walked out… him with his mouth gaping open to the floor and about a dozen seventy plus seniors sitting in the waiting room witnessing the entire scene play out with their mouths hanging open as well. I received a screaming language laced voicemail from him later for the lurch I'd put him in… as there was no one to answer the phone and check in patients all afternoon… yet no apology for the way he had behaved… in his eyes his behavior was irrelevant. I don't want my daughter to be at the mercy of any man who believes she needs to be pretty for him… that believes he can harass her, that her needs are less important than his, that she needs to hold back when she needs to speak up, that she has to do what is considered the "norm" in society's eyes and have two kids, a hubby and the picket fence, as there are so many more possibilities out there not just for her but for all girls.
What I want for my daughter is not feeling like she has to have a man if she so chooses not to. I want her to realize that although love is essential in life a spouse isn't. I want her to know that she can order up any kind of life she so chooses just like a pizza… she can make it custom to her liking and no one else's. Is that selfish? It could certainly be argued so. But I didn't have her so she could produce a life to my liking and give me grand babies. I gave her the gift of life so she could create one to her liking one day. If there is any gift I give her I want it to be the knowledge she always has choices… so far she's making pretty good ones and although that may not always be the case… I'm proud of her. She prays, she loves Jesus with all her heart, she's kind and thoughtful and she's beginning to be assertive… she has a way to go… sometimes it doesn't happen when it should, sometimes it's right on point and other times it comes out snarky with a sting … there is undeniably a difference between being assertive and having a loose and reckless tongue as this has been my own battle of plain old rebellion mixed with a case of ADHD impulsivity… but she will get there… bit by bit and in that bit by bit is God… with His guidance, His teaching, His lessons… namely His conviction and grace…
Maybe I don't just want her to know she can make choices… but that she can make good ones… I've made so many choices I regret… that I wish I had a re-do on… we all have something… I don't believe in that "denial-filled have no regrets" philosophy… I believe our regrets tell much about us… they show the point of where we've been and where we are now… and in between is a dusty road filled with growth and change albeit painful as heck… there in regret is me in a foggy cloud, lying on a bed with wheels covered under a white sheet and hearing the murmur of another girl behind the curtain beside me say "This is my fifth abortion…" and thinking to myself instantaneously how horrible she was… how I was better than her… even in my gross state of ugly wretched sin… and yet then feeling numbly convicted because I had screwed up too… I had chosen death over life and I would spend forever regretting that choice… during that trek on a dusty road doubting if God ever really forgave me… how many times can you ask for forgiveness? And what is worse is wanting forgiveness from your baby while not deserving it… and now I wonder if the girl behind the curtain regrets too… I have never forgotten her, a face I never saw… and I never will…
Like that girl I want my daughter to know that God may not love your choices but He loves you… He has the final say… the final verdict on our lives, He is who brings beauty from the bad choices we make… He is who makes our flesh whole… who brings vibrant color to where deathly gray hung. He is who we go to in our tears of bad choices, our weaknesses, our frailties and our sore spots.
So, yes, dear daughter and girls of the world… make good choices… will you have regrets? That's like asking if you'll ever have grey hair… you will. But cling to God in the good and bad… take one day at a time… order the life you want with God's blessing, do your thing, start a business, travel the world, run a marathon, write a novel, volunteer…
And if you find someone who you love and you make the choice to include them in the life you built with God by your side…
Consider him a beautiful bonus to an already very blessed life…
Illuminated by Christ's love shown for you on the cross.
~ Jennifer Gafford (2014)
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