I was pulling out of the parking lot of my children’s school when I saw her. Walking along the sidewalk, she carried a baby around her chest, pulled a wagon holding a toddler and led a dog with her only free hand.
She reminded me of Annie Sullivan.
Annie Sullivan was the ingenious teacher of Helen Keller – a young girl who was both deaf and blind. Her parents, at a loss with how to teach young Helen, hired Mrs. Sullivan but honestly, they weren’t very hopeful. There were tantrums. Frustrations. Hopelessness. Hard times that seemed to get harder – until one day. Standing at a water pump, a weary Annie attempted to lead Helen to the connection between objects and their names.
Suddenly, Helen made the connection. The light bulb finally went off. Annie signed the word water into her hand and moments later, Helen ran around the yard, touching everything she could while Annie signed the names of each object. Annie unlocked a whole new world for Helen and, in turn, Helen unlocked a whole new world for others.
If you are the mother of a daughter, you’re an Annie Sullivan every single day. Like it or not, we guide our girls just like the young mother leading her flock down the sidewalk. Our daughters look to us when they’re trying to figure out relationships. They see how you interact with waitresses and store clerks. They hear how you speak to your husband. And they watch you as you talk to your friends.
A few years ago, a group of women gathered at my home for a play date. Standing around my kitchen, the conversation shifted to a situation happening in the life of someone we know and, as so often can happen, it began to sound an awful lot like gossip. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted my young daughter and her friend watching us from an open doorway – and they weren’t just watching us. They were listening to us. Thankfully, someone shifted the conversation but my mind remained stuck on the image that was forever imprinted in my mind.
Little ears hearing big stuff. Children are keen observers but lousy interpreters.
After our house had cleared-out, I seized the moment and talked to my daughter.
“You know that conversation was wrong, right?” I asked her.“Why, mama?” she wondered with confused innocent blue eyes and blonde angelic curls framing her face. “Because if we wouldn’t say it in front of the person we’re talking about, then it’s gossip,” I answered.
Because who says we have to be perfect to be a mom? Who says we have to have life all figured out? Who says we won’t ever make mistakes?
In fact, those mistakes are the best compass we’ve got, friends. Our mistakes guide us to making better choices and when we know better, we do better. But before you go running for the hills and declare you’ll never be able to raise a contributing member of society, rest assured, sweet sister. You will make mistakes because all of us are disabled by the flesh. And let’s not forget that being a mom can be really, really hard.
We are going to sin; however, it’s what we do after that sin that matters most.
When we confess to what we have done and seek forgiveness, we model humility.
When we model humility, we show our children the power of vulnerability. And when we show our children the power of vulnerability, then they begin to see the beauty of authentic and real relationship.
According to a study conducted by Meredith, a publisher of more than twenty-one women’s magazines, many women in their twenties are more interested in interaction with other women rather than competition through the exchange of ideas, information and opinions. Meredith calls these women “Gamma” women. Gamma women “stand in the center of a web of positive personal connections and aim to bring out the best in themselves and others.”
But how do our girls become Gamma women? By watching us – because we are their Annie Sullivans. Our imperfections are the greatest gifts we can give our girls because it’s our flaws that grow Gamma girls into Gamma women.
Our mistakes and imperfections guide our girls to have the courage to be real.
And being real is freedom.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. – Psalm 32:8
Win a copy of Heart Sisters!
Natalie’s first book was just released and she wants to give one away! Comment below and tell us what it means to you to be a “Gamma” woman. A winner will be picked at random on Friday.
Natalie Chambers Snapp - Jesus freak. Wife. Mom to three. Writer. Speaker. Embracing life just south of perfect. First book, Heart Sisters just released!