On Mother’s Day, 15 Things I Want My Daughters to Know

May 9, 2017 | 33 comments

Dear Daughters,

There are approximately 10,952 things I want you to know, but these 15 are the ones I absolutely, positively pray that you will never, ever forget.

1 – I will always love you.


As in, you can’t get de-loved in this house — or in this life. You might just make massive plumes of steam roll out of my ears, but I’ll never, ever un-love you.

girls reading books, feet

2 – You are brave.

I can’t tell you that enough. I already marvel at what you can do, little ones. I love how you think big and believe in doing justice and how you gather up coins and prayers like every single one can make a difference. And you’re absolutely right. They can. They do! You said it first: You don’t have to be a grown-up to do big things for God.” 

3 – You are enough.

The world will tell you there’s something better for your life — if you’d only try harder, get cuter, make the Honor Roll, tell a better joke, drive a better car, shrink into a smaller pair of jeans. You’ll face some really big “Not Enoughs” in this life. And girls, those Not-Enoughs are fierce and stubborn.

Be stubborn-er.

Here’s the deal: I’ve seen what you’re made of: you’re brave enough to say “Enough!” to the Not-Enoughs.

little girl in heels

4 – No one in this world is ever too far from grace.

I want to grab you by the shoulders for this one, and tell you eye to eye. No one is too far. No one. Remember that truth, when you want to write someone off. Remember that, when the grace-hungry “someone” is looking at you in the mirror.

5 – Take good notes.

Keep a prayer journal. Tell your diary how you’re mad at the world, and how you’re mad at me. Write a letter to the editor at least once. Fold up love letters in actual envelopes. Pen some really bad poetry, and — who knows? — you might end up with a masterpiece when you weren’t even looking. Hand-write your recipes. And when you get to college, write home to your mother.

6 – You will want to give up. Don’t.

There are worse things in life than failing. First on the list: Not trying.

Important lessons are learned in those moments when things don’t turn out the way you hoped, and I’ve only begun to learn it. As brave as you are, those bitter failures might make you even braver.

7 – It really is all about Jesus.

Someone might say this one should be first on the list. But I saved it for the middle. You wanna know why? Because that’s where you’ll need to remember it most–when you’re smack-dab in the middle. In the middle of life,
of the valley,
of the struggle,
of the dark,
in the middle of your crumb-covered kitchen floor
while you’re on your knees
begging for the good grace of God
to rescue you.

Make this one here — No. 7 — your whole life. You will never regret it.

8 – Love people just as they are, not as you wish them to be.

Not everyone believes that “it is all about Jesus.” Love them anyway.

Also, not everyone is nice or brave or thinking grace is an actual thing. Oh! And some people smell funny and say naughty words. (You don’t have to up-and-marry the person; just love ’em. )

9 – The Bible will freak you out.

Keep reading. It’s not the end of the book.

bible on stack of books

10 – Always leave an empty seat at the table.

Everyone wants to know they belong. Let them know they do. Keep a chair open, and let them do most of the talking.

11 – Remember, I’m always here.

You had no trouble letting me know that you needed me at 3 a.m. when you were my baby. Why change things up now? Look, you’ll always be my baby.

12 — Go to church.

Yes some of the people there will annoy you. But guess what? You will annoy some of the people there. Go anyway. Church was God’s idea. So let’s all try to make it work. It’s a crazy system, but you’ll find some of your best friends there. And they’ll be the ones at your kids’ weddings. And depending on how things turn out, they will be at your very own funeral.

13 – Be nice to old people.

I say this somewhat selfishly, because I’m going to be an old person someday, God-willing. And come to think of it, so will you. Do unto others, girls, do unto others.

14 – Live outside of your comfort zone.

That’s where a lot of the cool stuff happens. And you are cool people. I’d hate for you to miss out.

15 – It’s good to come home.

We will forever love your texts and your Snapchat messages and your phone calls and your letters that we begged you for (see No. 5), but we will never tire of your sweet cheeks and your hugs and the way you make fun of us in the most endearing ways possible. We’ll be waiting on the porch. As in, hours before your headlights show up in the driveway.

As long as I live, I’ll be waiting on the porch for you…



by | May 9, 2017 | 33 comments


  1. Michele Morin

    This is just plain great advice — for daughters AND for sons. I’m sharing it on FB because I hope my boys will read it!

    • dukeslee

      Yay! Thanks for sharing, Michele. Happy Mother’s Day.

  2. Martha Orlando

    Oh, this is beautiful, Jennifer, and absolutely perfect for Mothers’ Day! Can I tell you that your daughters are blessed to have a mom like you? Sure! I just said it. 🙂
    Happy Mothers’ Day to you!

    • dukeslee

      You are so kind. Thanks, friend.

  3. Nicole Kauffman

    This is beautiful! Such a great example of the love that Christ calls us to. Thank you for being that light to your daughters! I am definitely sharing this 🙂

    • dukeslee

      THANK YOU, Nicole. xo

  4. Anita

    Aww! You made me cry! I did snort out loud over the second of of number eight, though ;). I would add to number 11 by saying that even though I grouch about you always needing me when the bathroom door is closed, my phone is always with me and I’ll answer your call or text or knock at the bathroom door (WHY do kids ONLY need you, really need you, when you’re in the bathroom?!)

    • Nancy Ruegg

      I have no answer for you, Anita, just a you-are-so-right affirmation! Years ago I taught at a school in Florida with single-person bathrooms accessed from outdoors. Students and teachers alike used them. You can imagine my wide-eyed expression when, during my break, a little voice from outside called to me through the locked door, “Mrs. Ruegg! Mrs. Ruegg!” (I don’t remember the student’s problem or why the teacher on duty would not suffice. I only remember the deja-vu of being needed RIGHT THEN, just like at home!)

      • Anita

        Too funny!

    • dukeslee

      That’s hilarious, Anita, because it’s SO TRUE.

  5. Dawn Hill Shipman

    As usual, Jennifer, you hit it all right on the head! And communicate it with such grace and wisdom. Thanks so much. (I’m forwarding this to my daughter–37-years old, living in Spain, and quite positive she doesn’t need her mother!) 🙂

    • dukeslee

      Aw! I love that! Thanks Dawn.

  6. Maree Dee

    What a beautiful post. A keepsake for your daughters. Thank you for sharing with all of us.

  7. Susan

    I think every mum and grandmum should print this out, adapt it to their own, and give it to their children. It’s perfect. Have a blessed Mom’s Day, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      Bless you, Susan. xo

  8. Rebecca

    Such a beautiful list. Reminder for me and my girls. Thank you for sharing your Mama heart!

  9. Sue Donaldson

    A great list! shared! (loving my necklace I won, btw)

    • dukeslee

      Yay! That makes me happy to hear.

  10. Sherry Thecharmofhome

    Ha! You are so right on #9. I was amazed when reading it what was in there! Thanks for hosting and Happy Mother’s Day!

    • dukeslee

      Right? Some crazy stuff in the Good Book! 🙂

  11. Tiffany

    Seriously…so much goodness. #8 was a reminder I needed today, because high expectations and open wounds and all that. Happy Mother’s Day to you. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. xo

    • dukeslee

      Right there with you, Tiffany. xo

  12. Shirley Boyd Huynh

    What a really great list; thank you for sharing it!

    • dukeslee

      Delighted to know these words found their way to you.

  13. Julie Loos

    Jennifer- I love love this list! Number 7 is my favorite because I’m on the other side of the middle. Religion didn’t help me, but Jesus did. I wish I’d learned this lesson sooner.
    I want my kids to know all this too!
    Thanks for the beautiful, honest post!

    • dukeslee

      That’s awesome! So glad to hear this, Julie.

  14. Leah Adams

    You have no idea how much I love this!

    • dukeslee

      So glad to hear it, Leah!

  15. Nancy Ruegg

    Such wise advice for your girls and ours! As Nana to three granddaughters, I greatly desire that these attitudes and affirmations be woven into their psyches as they grow. Each one establishes a worthy goal for their lives. Some even need to be reaffirmed to this retiree, especially #3-8 and 14! Thank you, Jennifer, for expressing so eloquently the hopes we hold for our children.

    • dukeslee

      So glad this spoke to you, Nancy. Thanks for being here.

  16. Katie

    So much to love here; so much brave. <3 Speaking this to my own two girls as well. Happy Mother's Day!



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