I was one of two girls, as was my mother, so I assumed my first child would be a daughter. It’s what I knew. One day in the middle of my first pregnancy I actually exclaimed, “Wait! What if it’s a boy?” It took weeks for the idea to occur to me.
My mother-in-law, who gave birth to three boys with a husband who was one of three boys, said, “You’ll have a boy. The Camps have boys.” And I, with the confidence and inexperience of youth, declared I had a 50/50 chance either way (but secretly I knew I’d have a girl, because my family had girls).
It was the first of many times my instincts would prove wrong along the journey of motherhood. I gave birth to not one, not two, but three boys before the mild December day when a girl joined our clan. Ultimately my husband and I would produce an even mix of boys and girls—four of each—but we were parents for ten years before we brought home a baby swaddled in pink.
Although initially I couldn’t imagine having sons, I had started to wonder if we would ever have daughters. I grew up playing softball and was a bit of a tomboy; I loved sitting in the bleachers, watching and keeping score at my sons’ baseball games. Surely God wouldn’t think I didn’t need a girl since I was a good boy mom? I can French braid hair, for goodness’ sake!
Such were the crazy thoughts that filled my head in the years before our first daughter was born. When the ultrasound technician declared our fourth child a girl, I asked, “Would you stake your professional reputation on it?” The answer was yes. I later told my husband I was 95 percent certain we were having another boy. He replied, “I was 99 percent.”
My first daughter and I share the same middle name, a gift from my daddy in honor of the Dallas Cowboys’ star quarterback at the time of my birth, Don Meredith. I never imagined we’d have three more girls or I might have saved it for another daughter’s first name. A fellow boy-mom-who-eventually-had-a-girl told me having a daughter didn’t feel different until around the first birthday, but for me everything was different from day one. I was different, too.
My four girls are each unique. It’s a marvel how the same house and the same parents can produce such different results! And just as we change over the course of our lives, our daughters do, too. The independent child who pushes you away may someday become a hugger who whispers, “I love you.” A mother’s relationship with her daughter may ebb and flow throughout the years, but a mother’s love is constant.
Parenting girls is different for a mother than a father. My mother once told me in her eyes my boys could do no wrong, but she could see right through my girls. She then said that my dad didn’t see how my husband could get upset with our daughters over anything. That mother-son and father-daughter thing is real and also multigenerational.
A mother understands a daughter in ways her husband never can. We remember somersaulting across the lawn, teenage hormones, learning to apply makeup, our first broken heart. The force of our will cannot keep our daughters from repeating our mistakes, and in the moments when they do, it’s hard to recognize that these lessons shape them into the women they’ll become, the same way they shaped us.
Motherhood can deepen our well of empathy; it’s a wise mother whose lips speak comfort rather than, “I told you so.”
With Love, Mom is treasury of stories from mothers to their daughters and from daughters to their mothers (and grandmothers), including pictures of the women and girls that each story represents. You’ll find tales of daughters from newborn to adult; from toddlers to twins to teens; from birth stories to the blessing of adoption; and the courage of the single mother: all accounts of our hopes and our fears for our daughters, and what it means both to bestow and to receive a legacy.
Hear from Rachel Macy Stafford, Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Wynter Pitts, Rachel Anne Ridge, and more than 30 other beloved voices as they share their personal challenges and parenting memories.
I’m tickled pink that With Love, Mom releases the same week as my oldest daughter’s due date—with my first granddaughter! I wrote stories for each of my four daughters and my mother in this book, and now I’d love to hear from you:
Please share a special memory of your mother or a daughter with us!
Dawn Camp is an Atlanta-based writer, wife, mother of eight, and editor and photographer of four compilations including With Love, Mom and The Gift of Friendship. She enjoys movie date nights with her husband; walks with her kids and her camera; and getting so lost in a good book she forgets to eat, go to the bathroom, or go to bed. She lives with a camera in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other and blogs family, faith, and Photoshop at dawncamp.com and also contributes to (in)courage.
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I had a difficult pregnancy with my daughter – abortion was recommended by my GP but I refused. She was born healthy and feisty. Raising her was different than raising our son. But there came a time when @ 16 she declared that she couldn’t live at home anymore and moved out to a ‘friend’s’ home. I was devastated. So began a 16+ years of estrangement. Last spring she told me she wanted to “divorce” me…She said many hurtful things that were so wounding. But God gave me the love and the grace to write an email to love on her, to encourage and affirm her and to tell her that I would always be her Mom, even if she choose to walk away. That has slowly turned things around and today, she will talk to me, answer my emails and even invited me to stay with her last summer for a family wedding. Praise God.
Karen T says
Thank you Cathy for sharing! I so needed to hear these words. Hugs!
Dawn Camp says
Cathy, what an amazing story of a mother’s faithfulness. I have been through hard times with my kids before too. We just have to be there for them and pray they make it back to us. Thank you for sharing.
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
Your book sounds beautiful, Dawn! Here is a little something I wrote about my daughters a few years ago called Mother Daughter Lunches.
Both of my adult daughters, on separate days, when knowing they had a day off from work coming up—called to ask me to have lunch with them. It just came across to me as an extra measure of blessing to this mother that my grown daughters want to spend time with me, and I do not take it for granted.
When our children are small, they love you and are devoted to you, no questions asked. Then they grow up as children must, and you want them to be independent. You know that you have to give them wings…you also know you will eventually have to let them go.
Mother daughter lunches start out at McDonalds with French fries, happy meals, chicken nuggets, and the playground. Then you graduate to tea room lunches, and then they graduate—literally. They go off to college and truly grow up and come back beautiful young women, and you wonder if they will come back to you.
When Amy and Mary each called and invited me to have lunch with them—I knew they had come back to me. I knew that many more tea room lunches were in our future.
I call myself blessed because I have these two beautiful, loving daughters! And I must say they are becoming even more beautiful and amazing with every passing year.
I am so grateful for the privilege of being a mother to two precious little girls who grew up to be two wonderful young women. Being their mother has been a most cherished honor that I will always treasure. Mother daughter lunches are among my favorite memories, then and now, and I hold them all close in my heart.
Her children rise up and called her blessed. Proverbs 31:28a (NKJV)
Dawn Camp says
Kathy, what a blessing that your daughters have come back to you! That’s an encouragement to moms who are in that in between stage. Thank you!
So interesting this is on my birthday, and what trauma with my grown daughter. I don’t think this is the way the Lord wanted things to be. Heartwrenching, can there be real healing and some much needed change after all that has happened concerning her family too? Help us Lord. I could not begin to read the book, it would be too painful, but I am sure many will love it. Far from a storybook is this mess.
Carol L. Gonzalez says
Just wanted to share that I have a friend who came from a family where she was the only girl, the youngest, with two brothers. She herself has seven children-five girls and two boys. Not even sure how many daughters she had before she had her first son but I do know that the second son is the youngest child. It’s amazing how God gives children to parents, I have known families comprised of only boys or girls, or a mixture of both. My father in law died in 1990. When he became ill his oldest child, a daughter, had two daughters of her own. His youngest child, a boy, also had two daughters-and then a few short months before my father in law died his only grandson was born so he got to be aware of that. God bless all the parents out there, whether they have sons or daughters. I wish my late mother in law had been alive to witness the birth of her only great grandchild (well, only at this point!), a boy.
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on the book. I know it will be special for all moms out there. Raising boys is different from raising girls. I have heard that fathers tend lean more towards girls & moms more so the girls. Moms can have a big impact on girls. They can pass on cooking secrets, & womenly advice.
I love this!!! I had two boys before my daughter arrived. She is truly the opposite of me. The girl I wished I could had been. She is outgoing, funny, and of course, the son my husband wished the boys could had been. It is funny how she is the only one who wants to do stuff with her dad. This will be the first year her dad takes her hunting with him. She is so excited and am ready to wear the full cameo gear. What a blessing it is to have a daughter! She totally turned my macho husband into this mushy mellowed guy. Of course he denies this all the way but we know who he was and who he is today as a result of her. I will admit though, that boys are so easy to raise. Thanks for sharing.