What I Wanted My Girls to Know by 18

This is Lori. Some friends provide a chance for you to observe their personal life at a close range.  Lori is one of those friends for me. She's a vulnerable learner, has great style, isn't afraid to ask questions, and she can be endearingly silly.  One of the things I admire most about Lori is the way she loves her daughters, Brenna and Cassidy.  She gives them space to be unique while still providing loving boundaries.  I watch her interact with Brenna and Cassidy and I make little deposits in my memory about how I want to be as a mother.  I've been asking my friends things (you can read about my intentions here).  And I asked Lori to share about some of the intentional ways she's parented over the years.

Twenty-one years and 7 months ago on September 2, 1993, I became a mom.  The pregnancy was a surprise and I was not prepared…our marriage was not good…I felt like I was too young, I hadn’t lived enough and I didn’t want my life to change the way I knew a baby would make it change.  I was mad at God and stayed mad the entire pregnancy.  But then, I heard the words…”it’s a girl” and looked into these big, beautiful eyes staring back at me and I was captured, in love like I had never loved before.  This precious child…this incredible miracle…this gift from God, was my daughter, I was her mother. I felt unworthy, unqualified and still do in many ways. This divine appointment from God, to be the mom of Brenna Lynn and Cassidy Jean is the greatest gift, joy and catalyst for growth in my life.

Like all women, my journey of being a mom is shaped by so many things…my own upbringing, amazing women who share their journey with me, wise counsel and the culture of intentionality and giving your best to God that I have worked and worshiped in their whole lives.  Plus, I’ve tried to walk hand-in-hand with my Savior everyday.  Now that my baby just turned 19, it has been fun to look back and think of all the things I’ve tried to share with my girls.  Some I’ve taught and modeled better than others and some I still haven’t learned myself but have done my best to impart anyway.

Thanks to Steven Covey, I try to “begin with the end in mind” and as a young mom, I knew I wanted my daughters to trust me and I wanted to be a safe person in their life.  The last thing I wanted was for them to hide from me and take their life underground.  Like all parents, I didn’t want them to make some of the mistakes I did growing up.  So, as their mom, my main goal was to have an authentic and vulnerable relationship with my girls.  In addition to that, here are just a few of the things I wanted Brenna & Cassidy to know by the time they ventured out on their own...

God loves you & you are His treasured child -  Having a personal relationship with Jesus will center your life and give you direction and peace.  Let God be your True North.

You can always come to the big bed – (This was something we told our girls from the time they were little.  When they woke up in the middle of the night and were scared, they could run to the “big bed”.  If they were feeling sick, they could come to the big bed.  If they were sad…come snuggle in the big bed.  Just home from a date…come debrief in the big bed.  It was a metaphor for a safe place…a place where they were accepted, no matter what.)  You are loved and treasured.  You can talk about anything, you can cry, you can be completely yourself… Your parents are “for you”!  

Your sister is your most important friend - The members of your immediate family are the most important relationships you should have, so cultivate them.  You need to get those right first and then you can go out into the world and be in relationship with others.

Make smart, bad choices - You are going to make mistakes. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it.  When you make bad choices…make smart bad choices, so you don’t derail your life.  When you do screw up remember…God’s mercies are new every morning…He forgives you, forgive yourself, learn from your mistakes and grow.

Go to college. 

Be kind…to yourself first of all…and to others.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.  Take care of yourself.  If you’re not well, you can’t fulfill your calling or help others.  There’s a reason you put your oxygen mask on first.

Be real - Always tell the truth - Be authentic and vulnerable.  It takes courage, but the rewards are worth it.  You will never doubt your friends or those who love you because they know the real you…  There’s peace there.  

Wear just enough makeup to enhance your natural beauty.  Don’t be fake.

Never tell anyone your mom’s real age…always say at least 5 yrs younger. 

Discover who God made you to be and pursue that with all your might - God gave you strengths….you don’t have to be good at everything and that’s ok.  Do your best, that’s all that matters. 

Give, Save, Spend - Be generous.  All you have is a gift from God…steward it well.  Save, so you never have to be in debt.  Don’t spend until you have it.  But when you have it, enjoy it!  It’s a gift!

When you see a spider in your house…kill it dead so it doesn’t end up in your bed.

Wise, Foolish, Evil – A lesson from Henry Cloud…there are three types of people.  Some are just out to hurt you, some are unaware and some are healthy & good.  You don’t have to treat all people the same way.  Learn to identify each one and treat them appropriately.  God said…wise as serpents, gentle as doves.  He doesn’t want you to be a doormat.  Respect others, respect yourself and expect respect be shown to you.

All people matter to God - no matter, what color, size, financial reality, smarts, political party, gender, etc…no matter how different they are from you - don’t stereotype, look at each person as an individual, recognize they have a backstory that you may not see, so believe the best until they prove you wrong. Even then show grace.

Leave a room better than you find it - pick up after yourself, do your dishes, etc… especially if you are a guest.  This also applies to when you borrow something from someone.  Return their car full of gas, return their sweater clean...

Don’t listen to the lies -  people and even the voices in your head may whisper discouraging, mean and untrue things about who you are.  Stay focused on what you know is the real truth!  

Say No - If it’s not what you truly want, or fits into your values, stand strong in what you believe is right for you and say no.  Protect your time, your body, your resources and your soul.  

Be grateful - even in struggles, there is so much to be thankful for.  Your situation could always be worse, so focus on the positive.  

Emotional health is a top priority - every relationship, every decision, everything you do will be better if you are emotionally healthy…it’s a journey, not a destination, so keep pursuing it!

You are strong and can handle any challenge that comes your way.  

Relationships are more important than things!  Life is short and you never know what the future holds.  Tell those you love how much they mean to you.  Don’t harbor bad feelings.  Don’t shove things under the rug or in the closet…Resolve your differences.  Forgive. Have fun.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Don’t forget who loves you – you will face challenges, you will hurt…in the end...always remember the wealth of people who love you...the God of the Universe, your mom, your dad, your sibs, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, coaches…the list is long because you are an amazing person!

I could keep going, but this is just a blog post, not a book :)  I have made many mistakes through the years, but I have genuinely given my best with what I had at the time.  My journey as a mom is not complete, and it definitely looks different these days.  I’m an empty-nester with Brenna and Cassidy in college and I marvel at the women they are and continue to become.  They are still a catalyst for my growth, they are my teachers and now my friends.  I couldn’t love them more!


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