Dearest Annabelle,

When I was pregnant with your biggest brother I was terrified of one thing throughout the whole pregnancy. I was terrified that he would be a girl.

I was not prepared then to have a daughter.

Two years later I had a similar sense of dread when your second big brother was waiting to be born. He was an ox of a man right from the start – they thought he was twins at one point – and yet still as his birth approached I had a sense of dread.

Again, at the age of 25 I was not ready.

I was not ready to teach you, by example, what it means to be a woman… to really be a woman. I still feel frightfully unprepared.

And yet one year ago today I held tightly to a bare 2×4 as you were born oh-so-quickly in this little cabin into the arms of your papa with an exuberant "It’s a girl!"

I was overjoyed.

If I am your example then I pray that you will learn from my mistakes, if nothing else, so that you may…

  1. listen more than you speak and learn more than you teach. I can see this is already becoming a real struggle.
  2. be peaceful, ordered, and live a structured life rather than creating chaos for those around you.
  3. not grow impossibly forgetful at the ripe old age of 25.
  4. live without hormonal chaos such that "And then I cried." becomes the end to every story of your life. (Hopefully it’s the hormones.)
  5. not avoid controversy at any cost, always standing for what is right and true, and always doing your duty in those things.
  6. be meek and humble and always reference back to point number one in all situations.
  7. be a useful woman at a young age and know how to butcher a chicken before you wake up a 30 year old with a lifetime of chicken dinners behind you.
  8. learn and embrace the skills necessary to live a peaceful, simple life. That means you will be helping mama out a lot in the garden, laundry area, and kitchen at a young age, for your papa called you pie-maker before you were even born.
  9. be thankful for the larger frame I fear you have inherited – those hips come in handy during child birth and those thunder thighs will help you work in the garden and stay upright through even the fiercest of wind storms.
  10. in all times of hardship and difficulty and tribulation put your faith not in your family, the land, or your senses; but in the One who made you. And during those times always refer back to point number one.
  11. someday, Lord willing, marry a man who does not cry at the drop of a hat, is neat and organized, and has the legs of a flamingo… all a perfect balance to your, um, uniqueness.

I still shutter to think that I will be the largest female influence in your life and I pray that the Lord would guide me in teaching you all that I have still yet to learn.

And, if the Lord wills, I look forward to every overly-talkative moment you and I may share over the collective hum of rolling pins over pie crusts heavily dotted with lard and wash basins filled with clay-soiled shirts.

That is, if I can get a word in edgewise.