(Published with permission of Talisa Pillay)
It’s your birthday week. I am so excited for you. You are growing into a young woman so quickly. I love how your ideas are changing and how we can talk more and more about more complex “girl stuff”. Yet, I am also acutely aware of how much time we have left before your life choices become all your own.
Three Christmases and then you will be finished with school. Yikes! That’s sobering to say the least.
Maybe seven or eight Christmases until you graduate from University. I’m properly freaking out!
Oh my! You may be wonderfully in love by then and God willing; your life will unfold beautifully and gloriously before you. I’m holding back the ugly cry now.
Talisa, as a young girl the world will tell you that you can do everything that any man can do because you are equal to a man. Please remember while you very well can do many things equally to a man – you do not have to. You have nothing to prove. Not to anyone.
What they also won’t tell you my love, is that you as a woman will be expected to do as much as a man. Yet a man is not expected to do as much as you will be expected to do. He will never need to prove himself. Yet you will be judged for how you keep house, whether or not you compliment your husband in action and character, how you raise your children, how competent you are in your career and what you achieve in all these areas. As a woman you will be expected to keep it ALL under control. A man’s limits are carefully defined and respected. A woman is perceived to have more limitations but also expected to exceed them all the time.
Don’t allow these standards to define you as a woman nor allow it to make you fearful of one day being a wife. Your worth as a woman is not based on how much you do or don’t do. It is only based on a simple truth: You are fearfully and wonderfully made and God loves you. You do not need to earn His love or any man’s love for that matter.
You need only remember that in order to “love your neighbour”, you must first “love yourself”. That begins with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I hope that the respect we have for each other in our home irrespective of gender, abilities, disabilities, age and station will stay with you forever. When you respect yourself, it is easy to know what to allow into your life and what not to allow.
Also hold onto “living in love is living in God”. That simply translates to being joyful, peaceful, long-suffering, kind, good and faithful. As your dad and I have done in our lives, we hope that you will write these on your heart. I promise you that these traits will carry you even when you think you can’t make it.
Honey, the world will also tell you that your sister with special needs is your responsibility. In many ways they already keep trying to elevate her in ways that can be hurtful to both you and your brother; often diminishing you to just a caregiver. I am so incredibly proud of your depth of understanding of people and their intentions.
You have not become bitter or disrespectful. You have responded maturely never allowing their emotional overtures to define the relationship between you and Savannah. May these insights guide you to have an understanding heart and to also guard your heart because no one is allowed to diminish your value and uniqueness. Remember, fearfully and wonderfully made?.
You already understand a little something about loving someone unconditionally. You understand what selfless means and that “what is fair” is a complex concept in our lives. I am in awe of how you share a deep friendship with your brother, who I am sure is often much easier to be with than your sister.
Yet you never show that. Not even to me. Not even on the days when you just feel melancholy. Even then your fussiness in making sure that Savannah always looks good and taking the time to do her make-up; often dismissing me from the equation is heart-warming. May you always be tender; doing in quiet for people what others would be applauded for.
We have experienced the opposite too, haven’t we? When people condemn me for only speaking about Savannah and accusing me of not seeing YOU. I won’t give up the details of how we live in love with each other. Not even here. I respect your privacy too much for that. I love that I get to be your mum without all the scrutiny. That is the gift of your life to me. Thank you.
So, this birthday I want you to remember we have not raised you to be anyone’s hero but your own. When life becomes too overwhelming; there is nothing wrong with slowing down, thinking it through and starting again, and again, and again because a New Day always comes. I know. You were my New Day.
Happy birthday my honey. I love you!