"It takes a Steel Magnolia to raise a Southern belle."
I don’t remember where I saw that quote for the first time. Maybe it was on a shirt or one of those decorative home decor signs that I love so much. I know that the first time I heard it though was long before there was a little girl in my life that would be my daughter. When I heard that quote I remember being so much more focused on the last part, the southern belle part. I love the idea of a southern belle. A girl that has grace and poise and manners and her momma’s recipe for fried chicken. A girl that wears pearls and seersucker but also knows the difference between pass interference and spread option when it comes to college football. Or just football as its called in the South. Grit and grace, side by side. That is what I’ve always thought a southern belle was. I’ll admit that I’ve spent a good chunk of time thinking about my behavior and if I thought I qualified to be in the hallowed halls of the southern belle sorority. All the criteria that made you one of “those” girls.
And then it all changed.
With a pregnancy test, tears of joy, 20 weeks of waiting in anticipation and those three little words, “It’s a girl” it all changed. And along with it, my perspective. The coin flipped and no longer was I thinking about being that Southern belle that I envisioned in my head. I was thinking about raising that baby girl that would be born on Southern ground that I saw on the ultrasound.
While I still can’t truly grasp the enormity of it all, raising a daughter, almost instantly I knew the responsibility that would now become mine. But what I wasn’t prepared to feel was the way that responsibility would fit and feel like my favorite pair of jeans. Instead of feeling like a weight of expectations and criteria to meet, the idea that a sweet little girl would be looking up to me, modeling after me, seemed more like a challenge. And a challenge that I am more then willing to accept. A challenge that I am honored to make my focus. A challenge that I won’t take lightly.
This challenge would be to teach my daughter about what mattered in life, about loving, being creative and having an imagination, being fair and kind, how to catch fireflies on a summer night and what ingredients made for the best chocolate chip cookies. It would also be a challenge in the things that the world would try and make her believe mattered, and I knew really didn’t. Things that might cloud her judgement or shake her self confidence at times things like what size her clothes were, who made her shoes and how many boys sent her valentines on Valentine’s Day. Things that are NOT measures of who she is as a girl and will be as a woman.
It will be my job to help her to navigate these paths and these obstacles, just like my mother did for me. She will have the love of both her parents to get through the good and the bad times. To teach her and encourage her to grow. She will have the love and support of so many family members that will take much joy in watching her become an individual with likes and dislikes, passions and opinions. But it is my job as her mother to live my life in a way that I can use as a guide for her. Being the best woman that I can be will make me a better mother for her.
While I have accepted this challenge with an open heart I know that as a first time mother there are many situations and stumbling blocks to come. And that is ok. I feel peace about it. My heart feels full and complete knowing that I trust that I will always do my best for my daughter and while I may make mistakes, rookie mistakes and repeat offenses, my heart will always be in the right place and I know that will lead me through the difficult times.
“God only gives us what we He knows we can handle”.
So many times I have wondered how God can possibly believe that I could handle some of the things that have come to me in my life. And this new challenge will be no exception to that. The peace that I feel is such a comfort. A peace that encourages me to trust that God will teach me and stretch me and help mold me into a strong and faithful mother.
I’m so excited to raise my little Southern belle. I’m also terrified, determined, unprepared and naive. I know that she won’t ever demand perfection of me, just love. My heart is already so full of love that I can’t imagine being able to find room for more. But that is the great thing about this and many stories, they are written much better then we could ever have imagined. They are stories of girls that dream of becoming Southern belles and realizing instead that being that steel magnolia is so much greater then anything that she could have ever have imagined for herself.
Under our magnolia tree on Easter Sunday