One look in your beautiful eyes and I fell immediately, hopelessly, unashamedly in love with you.
Even though you didn’t really have hair until you were two years old. It didn’t matter. Your gorgeous eyes mesmerized those around you.
When I thought of you, the life growing inside me, I always thought of you as a he. I had a son. I knew how to dress boys. Little girls with frilly dresses and bows, not so much.
Besides, I felt I would be a horrible role model for a daughter.
Then you announced your entrance, soft blonde peach fuzz on your head, big, beautiful eyes, blue at the time, but soon they would become the ever-changing one they are today.
You had tons of little dresses, thanks to your aunt and grandmother. But I made sure I had cute pants and tops. I was sure you’d be like me and prefer pants.
But, no, from day one you gravitated to the more feminine apparel with dresses and dress-up shoes being your preference.
From the beginning, you knew who you were.
I tried to be a good mom and set boundaries. You always went right to the edge of those. You preferred to sit as close as possible to the side of the busy street in front of our house.
You played along the edges never breaking the boundaries, well maybe once to rescue your cat who lay in the middle of the road.
You let it be known loudly and defiantly if you disagreed with anything.
After the first time of sending you to your room to calm down, you preferred to send yourself there.
I assume that was meant to be a sort of punishment to the rest of us. Truth be known, it probably was. I totally didn’t get it at the time and I missed your declaration of who you were.
I’m particularly sorry about that. You shared your secrets with your Barbies and when I listened, you shared them with me. You were telling us you are someone destined to make a difference in the lives of people. I had dampened your spirit by taking you away from us. It was meant as a way to discipline you to follow the rules. Instead, the punishment was mine.
You knew you would never fit in any box someone else designed for you.
Your future, your environment would be hand-made, designed specifically for you, fitted perfectly to who you are.
As you grew you tried things on for size. Dancing as a ballerina. Singing as beautiful as a songstress. Learning piano, cello, viola, French horn. Acting.
Memorizing. Remembering. Like a sponge you seem to soak up knowledge and hold it in your reservoir. Gifted. Talented. Intelligent.
It is apparent, though, that your giftings include more than your intelligence. Your kind, compassionate heart includes a wisdom beyond your years.
You lend a caring hand to anyone in need. You have no judgment in you. You get the fact that God created every person and each is important, valued and has a purpose.
Your character and strengths shine through as you listen and care for those around you.
Traveling, absorbing other cultures, loving other people, learning more about who God is by reflecting on His creation.
Knowing He didn’t just create white, Anglo-Saxon, American young adults, He created all races, colors, ethnic groups, ages.
God has broadened and enlarged your world. Your desire to give your life on behalf of others has become cemented in your soul. It has always been part of your DNA, you have just uncovered and embraced it.
Now, you are 22 and in one semester will be graduating from college. It’s a scary time for sure. You don’t know what you are to do, where you are to go, what you are to become. You ask that age-old question: Who am I?
You are Jenny Maydene.
You are named for your two stalwart great-grandmothers who I believe look down on you and cheer you on from the grandstands.
You are the sum total of generations of women who have paved the way for you to be the great woman you are today. You have something of all of them but you are not them. You are you.
Unfortunately you didn’t know your grandmothers, both women of courage and compassion, who stood strong with a gentle touch in the face of many types of adversities.
As your mother, when you were born, I was torn. I felt I had three full-time jobs: I worked at a good job with benefits. I had a great ministry. I was a mother and a wife. I knew I could manage two of those but, not all three.
With lots of trepidation, I quit my job and started working from home. My desk was in the middle of the living room. Many times I know I seemed unavailable to you but, I was there. I was part of your life as best I could be at the time.
My determination to be able to stay home eventually led to us taking in foster children and then developmentally delayed foster children and young women.
The primary motivation for all that your father and I did was I could stay home and be available to watch the sacred beauty as you and your brother grew into the awesome young adults you are today.
In you I see traits from all the women who lived so that you can live today. You are determined, dedicated, inventive, radical, compassionate, strong, intelligent, caring, courageous, confident and beautiful.
You are a passionate woman who is meeting the world head-on.
You will encounter things that will both embolden you and scare you to death. Meet them with courage.
You will find situations that you feel competent to handle and those that leave you wringing your hands in despair. Meet them with confidence.
You will meet people who are leaders of the world and those who seem like the dredges of society. Meet both with beauty.
You will find yourself in places you’ve never been that fill your heart with such joy you never want to leave and those that are so dark and despairing you want to leave immediately. Meet both with passion.
I am so incredibly proud of the woman you are. You are the same beautiful, little girl with the ever-changing eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes gray, sometimes green but always open, adventurous, inquiring, consuming every detail.
The Bible says the eyes are the window to the soul.
Your eyes are prophetic. They tell what you hold within. They are a mirror to the life you live that is always changing, always open, always adventurous, always inquiring, always consuming every detail.
I knew it the day you were born and I know even more now.
You have beautiful eyes, my Daughter.