(Photo by Maria Brown Photography: Maria & her daughter Sydney, 3, while pregnant with her son, Hunter, 3 1/2 weeks)


To My Unborn Daughter

By Kristin Bentley

Only weeks ago, my husband and I received the news that our sixth child – the second together and a complete surprise – will be our first girl.


From the time that little plastic stick bore two faint pink lines till the morning of the ultrasound, my husband worked diligently to prepare me for another boy. After we discovered our fifth child was a boy, I nearly cried for almost a week. Before Xander was born just last January, I grew to embrace my role as a mother to five amazing boys, but it did take some time.


As if a husbandly duty, James felt it necessary to smother my longing for ballet slippers and little pink painted nails before it grew any deeper by convincing me that we were inevitably having our sixth boy. In the process, he convinced himself.


While the ultrasound technician measured our baby’s bones and organs that day, my husband intently searched for a little penis on the black and white computer screen. The tech assured us that he would not find one and proceeded to point to our daughter’s labia.


Afterwards, we walked out into the quiet hospital hallway, holding hands but in our own separate worlds of deep thought. My husband considered which brand of shotgun would be most effective in scaring off our daughter’s future dates, while I contemplated whether I was a good enough role model as a woman.


Only six years ago, I had been engulfed in the darkest pits of depression before my escape from a violent marriage; so deep that some days I prayed for the Lord to take me. My divorce proceeded a custody battle, that I lost after two years and tens of thousands of dollars.


There’s a piece of me that still feels a hole; a deep longing for my older boys when they aren’t with us. And it is because of this that I fear raising a daughter. A mother sets a different kind of example for her daughter than she does for her son. For her son, she sets an example of what he should seek in a future mate. But for her daughter, a mother sets an example of the kind of woman she will grow to become.


It took over 40 years for me to become the woman that I am today. And because of this, my greatest wish for my daughter is that she learns some important life lessons quicker than I did, and that by some miracle I will maintain the tenacity to teach them, even if Elle enters this world having inherited my and her father’s iron will.


As a domestic violence survivor, I have learned to embrace all that I am, on both my best and worst day.


 I am flawed and imperfect and scarred. There are aspects of both my personality and physical appearance that I wish I could change. But after being knocked to my knees more than a few times, I now exude a sense of humility that reminds me it’s okay to not be perfect, no matter what my inner perfectionist says.


Today, I am the first to laugh at myself when necessary or admit that I am wrong, which enables me to say those three dreaded words, “I am sorry.” As all woman are, I can be so unnecessarily hard and unforgiving of myself. There truly is no need to be concerned with others when all I have to do is look into a mirror to see an enemy.


After falling into a dark depression induced by deep heartache and betrayal, I have discovered that forgiveness is freeing.


Being a good person does not always ensure that good things will happen. Life has handed me one mountain after another to climb and it seems at the most inopportune moments disaster has struck, knocking me back down to my knees with such inhumane force.


But those weak moments have defined who I have become. Compassion and forgiveness was not always returned, but I gave it anyway. Today, my ex and I are able to effectively co-parent, and the effects of this can be seen in our boys’ now-smiling faces.


As a young girl the encouragement from my parents taught me to believe that I could achieve anything a man could, even in a male-dominated household and world, without losing what it means to be a woman.


And I set out to prove just that. I climbed trees in smocked dresses and was the only of my siblings – three brothers- to compete in collegiate sports.


Sometime during my 30s I began to embrace all that makes me a woman with innate softness and compassion. However, my inner voices continued to tell me that I wasn’t doing enough, that I needed to work harder to accomplish success in my career while fulfilling all of my roles as a mother.


Finding that perfect balance is hard;  it always feels as though one begins to slightly slip when the other succeeds. And the guilt inside of me won every time, causing me to sacrifice a piece of myself for my family.


Today I am grateful to have a partner who supports my professional drive. I don’t hesitate to ask him to pick up the slack from time to time, and doing so doesn’t make me less of a woman or mother.


Through the guidance of my mother, I understood that a boy wasn’t worth dating in high school if he didn’t respect my innocence.


Having high morals and standing up for what a woman believes in should never be compromised by settling for anything less, whether it’s about virginity or anything else. I’m thankful for these lessons that my mother instilled, because of them I am not afraid to be myself.


Despite a great deal of loss and disappointment, I have maintained my optimism in others, myself, and in love.


Over the years, people I loved dearly let me down. My marriage of nearly 20 years had failed, and for a while I stopped believing that I would ever find myself or real love – a love that was kind and didn’t hurt.

 

Life has had a way of blinding me while in the depths of its turbulent storms. But once I made it through, I found the sun to be shining ever so brightly, in the face of a man named James.


The greatest tragedy is a person too busy making a living, they forgot to make a life.

-Anonymous

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