You smile with glee as you slowly spin and pat the dress we just wrestled over your head. You point your toes out for another admiring look at your new shoes.
“Do I look pretty, Mama?” you ask me, your eyes lighting up.
“You look so pretty,” I assure you.
And I’ll tell you right now, baby girl, there will never be a time I don’t agree that you are, indeed, pretty.
It won’t be because of what you’re wearing. Not the shoes on your feet or the bow on your head.
It won’t be because of how thin or curvy or short or tall you are.
Those things may help you to feel pretty… but they don’t make you beautiful.
You are pretty because of the way you care about others, pointing across the room at a wailing child to ask, “Is he sad?”
You are pretty because of the way you lean over to give a kiss — a bedtime smooch filled with love or a mending kiss when someone is hurting.
You are pretty because of the way you stick up for yourself. For now, it’s the way you say, “No, I’m Brenna” when someone calls you “Baby,” but I hope you will continue to advocate for yourself in respectful ways as you grow up.
You are pretty because of your determination, the way you insist, “No, I do it by myself!” even when it takes a long time to finish a task.
And yet, you are also pretty because of the way you’re learning to ask for help when you need it, which is important in life.
Most of all, you are pretty because of the way that you love — wholly, completely, passionately, fiercely.
So, my daughter, are you pretty?
Every day, yes.
You are pretty in your pajamas, and you are pretty in your dress. You are pretty with your hair combed and with wild sprouts all over your head. You are pretty sleeping and awake, eating and running, smiling and tearful.
You are pretty when your heart lives for what I believe God called you to do, who he called you to be and how he called you to live. Your beauty bursts out of you every day.
You will keep asking, as you grow older, if you are pretty.
And my answer will always be the same.
Because I am not looking at you. I am looking within you.
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