This is an updated version of a letter I wrote to Stella five years ago, when I was pregnant. I have learned so many things in the half decade since those tender days–about womanhood, about childhood, about motherhood, about who I am, and who my girls are. If you read my first blog, Kell & Stell, you might remember this: My Prayers and Promises.
1. First and foremost, I pray you will have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that if you run, you will not run far. I pray God will always pull you back, just as he did for me.
2. I promise to take you to church and teach you all about how much God loves you. I promise to extend those lessons into our home life together.
3. I promise I will do everything in my power to keep you safe and healthy, but allow you freedom to explore without being overprotective.
4. I pray that God will give me patience and strength when you don’t sleep at night, when you scream at me and slam your doors, when you go through your terrible twos or teenage years, and when you go to college and forget to call me, despite all I have done for you.
5. I promise to raise you celebrating the diversity of God’s creation. You will grow up understanding that all people have been created equal and created in image of God. We will have friendships with people of a variety of ethnicities and races, socioeconomic statuses, ages, religions, and backgrounds. Our home will be a no-hate zone, and outside our walls, I will encourage you to use your voices to speak truth in love. We will not be blind to differences, but rather, intentionally celebrate what makes us unique.
6. I pray that you are not “hot girls.” I pray that you have ugly duckling syndrome that incorporates a really humorous awkward phase in which you learn to laugh at yourself. I pray that you learn to put much more emphasis on intelligence, sense of humor, persistence, and bravery rather than how cute you are.
7. I promise not to buy you whatever you want. When we don’t have a lot of money, I won’t let that worry you. I promise to teach you that the things that will make you most happy are free, and constantly express gratitude and joy in our many blessings.
8. I pray you will have a heart of compassion. I pray God will create opportunities for us to serve the community together, and that you will love as God loves.
9. I promise to read you good books and to learn something new with you every day.
10. I pray God will give you patience with me. I am just a woman, with imperfections of her own, and I will sometimes be wrong and make mistakes just like any other person. I pray forgiveness will come soon and sure, to cover all wounds and break down all barriers between us.
11. I promise to say “I’m sorry, and I was wrong,” and to never let the sun go down when we’re mad at each other. I will never pretend to be perfect and I will share myself with you vulnerably.
12. I promise to encourage you in the things that you’re good at, to never discourage you in the things you’re not-so-good at.
13. I promise to be both cool and embarrassing, because I promise to be none but myself.
14. I promise to let you be whoever it is that you are, and not who I want you to be. I will tell you that your personality is special and God-given. If someone tells you you’re weird I will tell you that I am, too, and that being weird is more interesting than being dull.
15. I pray that you make wise choices regarding your lifestyle, your friends and romantic attachments.
16. I promise to always warn you and give you good advice, even though you will make some stupid decisions anyway, because no one is immune to foolish decisions.
17. I pray God will give you great mentors and solid supervisors, wonderful professors and pastors. I pray they will be men and women of integrity, that they will be trustworthy, fair and loving.
18. I promise to teach you balance in the meals I serve: healthy food so you will grow up healthy and happy… and sweet treats and sugary cereal sometimes. I promise to eat those meals together as a family, around the same table.
19. I promise to let you learn the hard way. I believe in natural consequences, so go ahead and eat ALL of your Halloween candy in one night, throwing caution (and my warnings) to the wind. And when you learn those hard lessons, and the learning hurts, I will refrain from saying “I told you so!” and provide you comfort and support to fix the mistake.
20. I pray that God will protect you from dangerous and harmful situations, like walking alone at night, creepy guys in windowless vans, getting kidnapped abroad, being caught in the cross-fire of a gang shooting, parties with drugs, cheap bungee jumping, wild animal attacks, faulty rollercoasters, and tanorexia.
21. I promise to facilitate opportunities to learn responsibility. You will do your own laundry, pack your own lunch, do chores, and get a job in high school. I will not rescue you from every situation that might bring you discomfort, either: I will let poor planning and poor time management teach you their own lessons.
22. I pray God will equip me to teach you the difference between right and wrong, and that you will have high standards. I pray that you will have conviction to stand firm when the rest of your peers give in.
23. I promise to spend quality time with you: watching kids’ movies, having tickle fights, going to museums, playing games, and going on trips.
24. I pray you have a vivid imagination, and that your creativity is not lost as you get older. I pray you never lose your wonder and curiosity at the world, and that you are courageous enough to say YES to play.
25. I promise to do my best to raise a strong woman and not a perpetual “toddler in a tiara.”
26. I pray that your dad and I will model a healthy marriage for you. Knowing the value of commitment, and the benefit of a strong marriage on children, I pray that God will grow us closer as husband and wife, and closer to Him. I pray we will never easily give up, that we will pursue purity and faithfulness. I pray that through our example, you will see what a solid marriage looks like in practice–the hard work sowing seeds, and the sweet rewards in harvest.
27. I promise that if we can afford it, we will go all over the world together. Until then, we will pin up atlases and pictures of the places we dream of, and read lots of travel and world history books.
28. I promise that in our house, there will always be music. And no matter how good it is, there will always be dancing.
29. I pray for the adults and authority figures in your life, that God will give you good mentors, teachers, pastors, friends’ parents, and family members. I pray they will also want to protect you and not to hurt you, that they will be good role models.
30. I promise that I will do whatever I can to keep myself healthy: mind, body, and spirit. I want to continually develop myself to be the best mom I can be for you. I want to be someone you can look up to and guide you spiritually. I want to be able to dance, play, hike, and travel with you. I will take all aspects of my health seriously, keeping my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing in tip-top shape to your benefit.
31. I pray that I can fix my eyes upon the Lord to be the best mommy I can be for you, that I can shower you with love and encouragement, with wise words and fair discipline.
32. Finally, I promise to follow through on my promises. Not just these, but any that I make to you over the course of your lives. I will be a woman of my word, and raise you to know you can rely on me.