For the Books for the #girlmom series, Katie Fitzgerald reviews a book that inspired her to think about preparing her girls for adolescence.
When I was in middle school and high school, the thing that was hardest for me to learn was how to be comfortable being myself. Though the turbulence of adolescence is still a few years away for my five kids, being a mom to four girls (ages 7, 5, 3, and 1) does make me think back on my own girlhood experiences and how difficult many of them were to navigate. The struggle to feel confident, the loneliness of feeling odd when everyone else seemed to fit in, the change of my looks and my personality to meet others’ approval, the pressure to be interested in boys at a young age -- these growing pains are nothing I would wish on my worst enemy, let alone my own flesh and blood.
I hope and pray that I will be able to teach my daughters (and my son) to remain true to their God-given identities as they weather the storms that await them in puberty and beyond, but it certainly feels like a daunting task sometimes! That’s why I’m so thankful to Mary Lenaburg for her latest book, Be Bold in the Broken.
In this new release, Mary reflects on her journey from girlhood to adulthood, giving special attention to those moments when she allowed herself to be defined by other people’s expectations and opinions rather than by her identity as a child of God. From the time she used socks to amplify her bra size for cheerleading tryouts to the time she gave into the temptation to gossip as a young wife and mother, Mary retraces her missteps and shares the valuable lessons each one taught her about who she is in the eyes of God.
What is so meaningful to me about this book as a mom of girls is that it gives me concrete topics to bring up in conversations with my girls as they grow. Mary’s realization that her height and sturdy shoulders were exactly what the cheerleading squad needed reminds me to teach my girls to value the strengths God has given them, however they may manifest themselves. Mary’s realization that her gossiping was rooted in her constant comparison of herself to others reminds me to teach my girls not to measure themselves against other people, but to count as successes those actions that bring them closer to God’s will. Mary’s relationship with her close friend Suzanne reminds me to show my girls the value of one good friend over the attention of many admirers.
The line from the book that stood out to me the most was this:
Fitting in means you change yourself for someone else, and belonging is when you are welcomed just as you are.
Like me, I’m sure my girls will find that they are not always welcomed by the people they wish to impress, and that they might not always fit in. What I pray I will be able to instill in them is the understanding that even when they feel they don't fit in with their peers, they will always be able to find that sense of true belonging in the body of Christ.
If you are looking for inspiration on how to raise girls who love God and love themselves, Be Bold in the Broken is an excellent read. I also recommend following Mary on Instagram @marylenaburg. Her down-to-earth sense of humor and honesty about the challenges of everyday life are a breath of fresh air on social media and a daily source of hope and joy for me on my journey through motherhood.
Copyright 2021 Katie Fitzgerald
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Katie Fitzgerald is a former children's librarian turned stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She and her librarian husband live in Maryland with their five children, the youngest of whom are boy/girl twins. She has published two textbooks for librarians, and she writes about homeschooling, books and the reading life from a Catholic perspective at ReadAtHomeMom.com and on Instagram @read.at.home.mom.