“Someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only life and reality: the female human being.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Most of my pregnancy I’ve thought you were a boy. I dreamt you were a boy, I pictured you as a boy…but always there in the back of my mind I wondered if I would be privileged enough to parent a girl. The thought terrified me. It still does.
Because baby, it’s a complicated world for anyone to live in these days, but especially for girls. Am I strong enough, healthy enough, smart enough to help you maneuver it?
You’re coming into a world that will constantly be telling you that your body is a commodity to be sold, that you have to fit certain molds and that if you don’t, you’re somehow less beautiful. There are some people here who will think it’s ok to hurt you just because you’re a girl and the statistics that show the likelihood you will face this are horrifying. You’re going to work as hard and be as smart as the boys you know and some days, the world will tell you it still isn’t enough.
But baby, you’re going to shine anyways. God has already planted inside of you all the strength and grace you will so desperately need in this life. And you’re not without example. Women who have made history because they in some way stood up for what is true and against the voices that tried to silence them.
Women like Anne Braden, who refused to be silent in the face of the racial hatred.
“What you win in the immediate battles is little compared to the effort you put into it but if you see that as a part of this total movement to build a new world, you know what could be. You do have a choice. You don’t have to be a part of the world of the lynchers. You can join the other America. There is another America!” – Anne Braden
Or Jane Addams who could have chosen a life of comfort and luxury but instead set an example of solidarity with the poor by choosing to call them neighbors and friends instead of merely statistics. Her work is part of the reason your mommy has a degree in social work today.
“True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.”
― Jane Addams
Or spunky Sojourner Truth who wasn’t just told she was less than because of her gender but also because of her skin color. She refused to believe those lies, and so must you.
“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down, these women together ought to be able to turn it right again.”
― Sojourner Truth
Margaret Bourke White refused to accept that she was somehow less capable simply because she was a woman. Instead her photography graced the cover of the first issue of LIFE magazine. She shone baby.
The world was waiting to be full of discovery made…(as a photographer) I could share the things I saw and learned….you would react to something all others might walk by. – Margaret Bourke-White
These women chose to see the world through a different lens. They weren’t perfect, but they stood tall. This is my prayer for you.
So your daddy and I, we wanted you to have a name that stood for something. That would remind you to be brave in a world that will make you feel small. We chose Emerson. It means brave, powerful. Because you are.
And baby, you might be loosening my ligaments but you’re reinforcing my backbone. You remind me to find my strength every day. Because whatever I believe can be true for you, must be true for me as well. I must walk in it so that you can see it.
And even though your daddy and I believe you can grow up to be anything you dream of and we will always remind you of this, we will never put prestige before the dream God has for you. Because that’s where the real freedom is. If He calls you to be a doctor or a scientist we will be supporting you the whole way. And if He wants you to be a stay at home foster mommy, you’re going to rock it and we’re going to be your loudest cheerleaders.
Maybe God doesn’t need to take deep breaths but He breathes powerful life nonetheless. He calls it from the deep corners of earth. He sees this broken world and the way the fires of the life He gave us are quenched in us but His reality is different. And He sees you differently and He has already called you to be someone who commands life into a broken world despite all the voices to the contrary.
So baby, Emmy, here’s to you little girl. Here’s to you and the way you’re going to shine and stand tall in a world set against you. Here’s to the way you’re going to dance with all your might. Because Emmy, you’re mighty and I’m not going to let you forget it.