Baby girl,

You won’t read this for years. As I write, you’re carefree, and four, and dancing in your frilliest dress. You dream about princesses and fairy tales. A few weeks ago, you told me you’re waiting for your prince.

When I ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” you always reply, “I want to marry my brother and be a mama.” I keep telling you you’ll change your mind about your brother. But you might still dream about getting married and having babies. I did.

I love your papa more every day, and I’m privileged to be his wife. You and your brother are woven into the fibers of my heart forever. God answered my prayers when He gave me each of you.

But, baby girl, I want you to know: you don’t have to be a wife and mama.

If marriage and motherhood will be best for you, I pray God fulfills those desires in time. But you may choose not to marry or might not meet someone you want to commit to forever. Or you could remain single for years before marrying.

Your papa and I are not raising you with an expectation you’ll get married.

We mix up the books you read and the cartoons you watch. You love Disney princesses, but we also tell you stories about working, building character, and a life that doesn’t include a family. As you grow older, we’ll do our best to present every option to you. We’ll challenge you in school, help you find and develop your passions. When you complain, “When will I ever use this math or science?” I’ll remind you of the time you wanted to be a doctor. If you want to study art or language, we’ll support you.

Our goal is to prepare you for the path God has for your life. But I also pray you’ll find freedom in that path, whether it includes marriage or not.

Baby, I was just like you once. Four-years-old, then 12, then 18, and I just wanted to fall in love. I didn’t dream of a career or an educational goal. I assumed I’d get married and start having babies right after college.

But I didn’t.

Years went by. My friends all got married and had two or three kids. And I was still single.

I’d studied the Bible my whole life. Your grandpa and grandma taught me solid truths about love and marriage. I was part of strong churches. But now and then, I’d hear a Christian say, “God’s ultimate purpose for women is to be married and have kids.” Or I’d browse the Christian bookstore and realize most of the women’s books were about marriage, raising kids, and keeping a home.  

I wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” I felt guilty for not meeting God’s purpose and hurt by those statements about women.

I went back to college and devoured learning. I developed priceless friendships and began a job I adored. I found joy and fulfillment in my single life and began to question this idea of God’s ultimate purpose for women.

If God’s design was for every woman to be a helpmate, why did godly women remain single? If His ultimate plan for me was to be a wife, why was the guy not around? Was I falling short? Was I sinning? And if so, why was God blessing my single life?

In those years, I learned that singleness is a gift (1 Cor. 7:7). Even Jesus said it’s a good thing, if that’s what God has given (Matt. 19:11). God blessed me with opportunities I might not have had if I’d been married. Life was full of joy, excitement, purpose and peace. I was not simply “on hold” until I walked down the aisle.

I loved being single, and now I treasure my marriage. I was 28 when I married your papa and 30 when you came along. Older than most of my friends. But this was the path God laid for me.

Baby, I hope you will be whatever God puts on your heart to be. A mama. A doctor. An engineer. An artist. Maybe a combination or something entirely different. If you desire marriage, I pray He brings it. If you remain single, I pray you feel freedom.

But may you know this truth that it took me so many years to take hold of: your primary purpose in life is to love God with all your heart, and then to love others (Matt. 22:37-40). Your marital status is beside the point. You can be exactly the woman God created you to be, whether you’re a “helpmate” or not.

Whatever gift He gives you, to be single or to be married, you can walk in the purpose He intended.

With love from a woman once joyfully single and now joyfully married,
Mama

Nicole Baldonado

Nicole Baldonado is a social worker and missionary in L’viv, Ukraine. She and her husband love raising their two kids in an intercultural lifestyle. Nicole writes weekly at jnbmission.com and can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/jnbaldonado or Twitter at NBaldonado.