I am here alone in a place with Internet access and food, trying to clean up my inbox and clear my head.

But their conversation is turning my limbs light and my stomach in circles. They are men, with gray hair and pot bellies and low grumbling laughs, at the next table. They are reminiscing about the good old days, the "good old days" with women.

Heat is rising in my cheeks and my heart is beating faster and everything in me wants to strangle, to rail, to fight, to scream...to get them to stop, to get them to see.

Here you sit with all these years to know...and you still don't know.

They are talking so loudly...with so much pride, it sounds like bravado, and I feel sick.


Last night I was randomly struck with a thought, right before bed. I called out for Ryan, to come from the other room and I said, I just had the most terrifying thought.


What if she's beautiful? What if this baby girl is beautiful? That scares me so much because men can be so awful.

I just needed to say it.


One of them, in here now, he says, Yeah, all I had to do was pull the car to the side of the road and she knew what was coming. They all laugh, that loud laugh, like they're trying to be the most humored, like it's a contest. Then he says, She knew how it was going to end. More laughing. She'd make excuses--oh I need to work in the moring or oh it's so late--but I'd just say yeah yeah yeah...

more laughing. They just keep going, with the stories and the laughing.

Then as quickly as it started, it's over--the topic has changed to the weather, oh it's so cold--and their voices are growing softer and softer, barely audible, and then there's a silence, the kind that takes over after a last breath. A kind of eerie and then holy silence. It's over.

My shoulders relax but only a little and I'm whirling with my history and her future and I'm trying hard to grasp around for faith, to trust.

One of them gets up to leave, pulling up his suspenders and slipping his arms through his coat. He walks by my table, and he smiles at me.

And I want to strangle, to fight, to scream, to rail against it.

Everything in me wants to protect her always, and even more, everything in me wants to give her a voice.


*edited to add: I realize that bad things can happen to anyone, not just girls (or beautiful girls for that matter). I simply caught myself in fear and expressed it here. Beauty can draw a lot of unwanted attention, that's just simply where my thoughts began, and then I wrote them out.

32 clicked right here to comment:

Ann Imig said...

And you already are giving her voice.

Good job Mama.

Katherine said...

I have a beautiful girl. She's 4, nearly 5. I bristle up and my muscles tighten when I think of how she could be hurt.

One of the best things my mother ever did for me was to tell me that it was my responsibility to make safe choices as much as possible. Always be aware of your surroundings. Choose the people you spend time with carefully. Don't walk alone across your college campus at night. You know ... Not to scare the daylights out of me, but to let me know that women and girls can be vulnerable to men like the ones you describe.

Anyway, I understand your thoughts and how angry it makes you. Completely.

Robin said...

I want them to keep their innocence every single day, and guys like that and life in general will take it away little by little. I wish it didn't have to be that way.

This Heavenly Life said...

I have beautiful girls, too, and I worry. But I agree that you're already giving her a voice, and with a mama like you, I don't see how she can go wrong.

But then again, I just worry about people in general. If I have a boy, I'll worry about him in this same way: heartbreaking, bullying, fitting in, growing up...it's all there. It's all hard.

Thank God for good mamas.

(And I don't know how you kept your calm in front of those awful men.)

deb colarossi said...

Oh, this got me , Heather.

H-Mama said...

You just expressed my mommy-of-girls-heart, too. *sigh*

Angie said...

Yes. *sigh* My heart wells up. You speak so well.

Kelly said...

My worry for my girl sneaks up on me sometimes. I remember when she was an infant and I couldn't stand to let men in our extended family hold her (bc the statistics are scary and it's usually a family member who does bad things to innocent children).

The fear and anxiety of it controlled everything and truly crippled me for a long time. Now that she has her own voice (and has used it to speak up against a bad thing that happened), I feel like my job is to nurture that voice, protect it and encourage it and never silence it.

What's scariest is the situation you describe -- when a girl doesn't even realize she's being used or taken advantage of by someone she loves.

(And I must also say that this is my job for my son, too. Never before I had a son did I realize the monsters want them just as badly.)

You can see I think about this a lot. This is parenthood.

Heidi said...

It's true, being beautiful can be a curse. Not that I know from personal experience, mind you. I consider myself lucky that I was overly thin with straggly hair and glasses until I was 16. That helped to ground me. Not that I was beautiful even when the glasses and the awful hair went away, merely pretty, but I do worry about my gorgeous daughter. There is so much emphasis on looks with women and how it defines who they are. When Mary was a little, I couldn't help from telling her how beautiful she was. Then I would remember and worry and add "but looks aren't who you are and pretty girls are a dime a dozen". Not sure if that made things better or worse but now that she's 16, she doesn't see how beautiful she is. All she sees are the faults. Darn media!

Melissa said...

God how awful and frightening. It's so scary to send them out into the world.

Jamie said...

I totally understand what you are saying. I felt an enormous responsibility to protect B in a way that was different from my Monkey...just because I know. You know? But my fear (probably b/c of my own experience) was fear of herself...like not knowing her precious value to Christ and seeking it in places that would cause her harm. I pray that she falls in love with Christ as soon as she understands so that she never has that emptiness that some girls experience and then they fill it with all the wrong things.

I remember when she was like 4 or 5 months old, I would dance with her to Johnny Diaz's "More Beautiful You" and pray over her and sob.

I told my husband that my babies were both my most precious gifts, but she was just more fragile to me.

I started thinking that my own testimony might just be worth it all just to know how important it is to never let her (or Monkey) walk away empty, not knowing for a moment, how incredibly precious and loved they are by us and their incredible and precious Savior!

I know you will do the same...and that will be the most important voice :)

Kim said...

OH I so understand this. I try to protect my girls, even more so than my boy. I don't know why that is, but I do.
I so don't want anything bad to ever happen, to ever disrupt their innocence.

I pray that I will teach all of my children to only put themselves in situations where they will be safe. To make decisions ahead of time, so when they are in a car on the side of the road...well, that they won't be because they will have made that decision beforehand to only group date or whatever.

It makes me sick too. How cruel people can be to our babies. And then I remember that those people are someone else's babies, and my heart breaks for their parents.

Oh the joys of parenting huh?

Elaine A. said...

There are definitely different feelings once you have a girl. It's just human nature. Unfortunately, ALL of it is human nature. I feel it too Heather. xo

K and/or K said...

You made me cry! Because for the first time I read your blog about your daughter and I could relate as a PARENT (eek!!!!), as I thought about little sweet P, an ocean away.

I share your concerns! Let's find a safe little tropical island and escape the meanies of the world! NO? Ok, guess we better get good at equipping!

MommyJ said...

It is scary that she is a girl, and it is scary because she will be beautiful (um, hello? She's your daughter, so that's a given, yes?) But... it will be less scary than it could be because she will have two older brothers that love her so and watch out for her as any big brother should.

(Of course, I know that bad things happen to girls with brothers, but even still. I find great comfort in thinking of my own daughters and how they will both have brothers that grow up with them... Good, strong, lovely brothers.)

Corinne said...

You hit the nail on the head when you said "my past and her future" - it's tricky. So, so tricky.

Melissa (Confessions of a Dr. Mom) said...

Ugh...my fear exactly. I have a three year old daughter. I also have a 5 year old son, who I hope I am instilling values and respect for women in. I really, really hope.

Simply Created by Cole said...

So, so powerful. You got me with, "my past and her future."

God will guide.


Sarah Denley said...

I've had those thoughts often too and in fact the exact words I've used in my prayers are that my daughter will be ordinary (in looks, of course).

a Tonggu Momma said...

You will think she is beautiful because she is yours. And you will teach her to find her voice because you are already finding yours.

Elizabeth said...

She'll be beautiful, of course. But you'll teach her how to handle that gift wisely, cautiously, carefully.

Christa said...

Yes. It's not easy and life can be scary... And beautiful. But it won't happen all at nice, and you will know how to teach her to be in the world.

I have had the gift of a daughter for almost eighteen years now. She is strong, sometimes tough, and always beautiful. She has taught me so much in the reliving of my past and the launching of her future. It's an amazing ride.

Anonymous said...

By virtue of the fact that you are already thinking of these things, it's crystal clear that she's miles ahead than so many others before her. She has a mama who cares, and who's willing to go there to protect her. And you might not be able to be there all the time, but she's alread leaps and bounds ahead. Really.

TKW said...

When our minds take us to those dark corners, it's almost unbearable, isn't it?

And you wonder what you're going to have to tell her, and hope that you never have to.

Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities said...

Oh, this is so honest and powerful. I try not to think about this too much with my girls, but sometimes I do. I go in and out of being alarmed that they will be free in the world and will have to encounter men like you describe and riding a foolish wave of confidence that they will know how to handle themselves. It is so tricky to go there - to the future, to the scenarios we can't help but imagine.

Thank you for this, Heather.

Francesca said...

i've been away and missed so much of your Blog. But i am now back and your writing gives me goosebumps like it always did. Love it! You are awesome.

Casey Freeland said...

Ann has it right. Already doing it. I have two beautiful girls to worry about. One is away at college. AWAY! She came home last night for dinner. Every time I see her face my soul can breathe a little sigh of relief.

It never goes away. It's a wonderful price of love. I'll take it.



Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

It's pretty much the most terrifying ever, right? Oh, the conversation you overheard. I would have been shooting eye daggers. Shame on them.

Good news? There's some great mama mentors on the path ahead of us, showing us what worked for their girls and teaching us from their mistakes.

You are a beautiful, confident, strong woman - whole and equipped for the task. And where you have weaknesses, Christ is made strong. She is a gift and you are a gift to her.

From Tracie said...

"I'm whirling with my history and her future and I'm trying hard to grasp around for faith, to trust." I have been there with my daughter so many times. Wondering if I'm being the "right" level of protective and freaked out, or being more protective and freaked out because of my childhood. Wondering how I can let her leave my side for even a minute, and then realizing that I have to let her live and taste freedom, and not be imprisoned by my history....while still finding that balance of keeping her safe. It is hard. I don't have boys, so I don't know this for sure, but in some ways I think girls come with their own set of fears.

Those men you overheard? Disgusting. and scary.

rbse said...

I was pondering this story, and shake the dust, while sitting with a sick baby girl last night, and started thinking about those men's silence, after the laughing and boasting ended, and wondering if they were quiet because they were feeling that bad taste in their mouths, and that hollow pit in their stomachs, when the truth you are trying to run from finally catches up with you, and you know what you did isn't right (but you can pretend like it was fun and good and manly when you're in a group).
And I was picturing that man get up from the table, and see you watching him, and think "Oh my God, she could be my daughter/ my niece/ my neighbor. Did she hear?" And then smile, to pretend like there's nothing wrong with what happened.

Because perhaps the even more terrifying thought than how we protect our daughters from becoming the girls and women that are so treated by men like these, is the thought of how we guard our sons from becoming men like these. They were each, one time, some Mama's sweet, innocent, beloved little boys.

(but I think thoughts like these are only possible in hind sight. in the moment, we are only blindsided by the awfulness of it all)

Heather EO said...

I love this input. I had these thoughts, actually. During it all and after. (my mind is always TOO busy with SO many clashing thoughts.)

I allow myself the anger and realize a lot of feeling so strongly about this is because of my past. And then I think so much about nurturing my boys in a way that helps them rise above some of the traps guys can fall into.

It's true, we're all so broken. And I wondered the very same thing about that silence and the smile, even while I was fuming, I guess that's what I'm trying to say :)

Thank you.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Wow, this is how far back on my emails I am. As usual! But I am so glad to catch this one. I hate that you had to hear that, but I love that you can already pray against it and for the strength to face it, before she is even born. :)


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