Diaspora: A Prayer

by Hadley Duncan Howard

I weep in the shower after our conversation. I weep and pray and do all I can to not lean into the helplessness that is, at times, motherhood.

She says she’s tempted not to raise her hand in class.

She says it’s because she feels small there.

She says sometimes she’s embarrassed to be smart.

She says she just wants to be like everyone else, of average intelligence and boasting a home theatre in the basement.

It’s hard to be the child of parents who value character over competition.

Being less than who you are will kill your soul, I whisper to my extraordinary daughter. Her face is blurry through my tears.


 We’re wasteful, we women. We waste years of our lives pursuing the mediocrity that comes with social integration. We throw away the best pieces of our selves as we wrestle the competing demons of independence and invisibility. We desire to be both fully seen and fully same. We discard ourselves in our disinclination toward vulnerability.

We toss our very best selves to the wind, as spores on the breeze, scattering and dispersing our beauty, our creativity, our inherent worth – our power. It’s a disappearance of holiness, a displacement of God.

It is a diaspora of self.

I cannot bear to watch as it comes to dissolve my daughter; I will not look away in defeat.


Dearest Father, sustainer of women, give me wisdom to guide my daughter – our daughter, yours and mine – toward her true and vibrant self. Whisper to her, as I have done, that she was created for a purpose, that grandeur is intrinsic in her soul, that her spiritual colors are vivid and God-chosen.

Tell her that smallness is not for her, that she was made for largeness, larger even than the universe around her – that she possesses not the seed of self, but is rather a majestic specimen of living divinity, fully formed and sturdy, always was.

Encourage her through your Spirit to hold to her self as she holds to the iron rod. Give her ears to hear what is ennobling and enlarging; bless her with deafness to what will destroy her. Make her voice as a trumpet for goodness.

Place the pavilion of your extravagant love over her head; let not the shame of the world rain upon her.

Teach her that you are the only thing more powerful than herself. Extend to her your strength, as she comes to trust her own.

Dearest Father, respecter of women, as our exceptional daughter learns of the great I Am, instruct her in her own greatness – that she herself Is.



*Image from wolfgangphoto

15 Comments on “Diaspora: A Prayer

  1. Your words touched my anxious heart this morning. I’m too emotional to come up with anything to say, other than thank you.

  2. These inspired words should be shouted from rooftops and whispered by our bedsides on our knees. I pray my daughter reads this. I pray harder that she believes it.

  3. Brought me to tears, Hadley! So beautiful, heart-wrenching and real.

  4. Powerful. I haven’t read anything this emotionally stirring for a long while.

  5. I completely resonate with this. I remember realizing it was “cool” to get bad grades and not care about school. So, although I had been attending gifted and talented programs, I didn’t want anyone to know I was smart or even that I maybe liked school. I betrayed who I was for years in jr high and high school. It’s so sad for me to think about. I hope I can also help my kids know it’s awesome to be unique and excellent and they should never shrink. Im still re-learning this after so many years. Beautiful article.

  6. This made me sad to read. I don’t understand the timidity of the author or her daughter. Why the whispering to her daughter. The mother should be straight up talking to her daughter like adult to adult. And exploring all the consequences of choices of behavior. As a woman, I earned an engineering degree in 1980 and now have a senior daughter in high school. Believe me, we have had many mentoring, empowering talks. She is about to graduate valectorian and has been involved in many worthwhile extracurricular activities until she settled on one that inspires and excites her. And I have always been an active church member as well as my daughter (and husband). I would guess that this author’s daughter takes her cues from her mom. My daughter does and though it may seem I’m brass, I am considerate, kind, and thoughtful. As she is. But no one would take us as fearful or not confident. I hope this is taken in the spirit it is given, as some feedback worth considering.

  7. Beth, I think you may have missed the point of this post. Most women, and every mother I know, experience fear, self-doubt, and concern on a continual basis – especially as their daughters (children, really) navigate the complicated pressure-cooker that is adolescence. That much is clear from the sheer number of responses, shares, and comments this post has gotten. I don’t think Hadley’s sentiments convey at all that she is a timid or fearful woman. Her post shows humility, sensitivity, and bravery as she allows herself to be vulnerable in this moment. Additionally, having met her I can confirm she is confident, and kind, and smart, and thoughtful, and the kind of woman we should all aspire to be. I hope you will read the essay again with some thought to metaphor (she may not have been literally whispering at her daughter…this seems to be a story about what happened after she spoke to her daughter and is more about the feelings behind it all than the literal story). Additionally, I feel like AMW is a safe space where we are able to acknowledge the difficulty of modern Mormon womanhood, where we are allowed to recognize that it isn’t all sunshine and roses and things are hard and we all fail and fall down on occassion and that is part of the process of becoming. I highly doubt that you or your daughter has never felt afraid, or judged, or pressured to be something other than what you are, and that is precisely why this post (and this site) exist.

    Also, I love this post so so much. I want to memorize it and make it my new mantra. I want everyone ever to read it. I want to share it every day so that the beauty of these words never gets lost in the ugliness of life. I mostly want for all of the women (and people) I love in this world to take this to heart and remember their own power and strength and divinity. Thank you so much Hadley, for so openly sharing what was in your heart.

  8. Beth,

    I fail to understand how a difference in personal experience allows you make a conclusion and judgment about Hadley’s character and who she is as a woman and mother. It’s one thing to share your experiences and accomplishments; it’s quite another to provide judgment veiled as “feedback.” The former can be supportive and encouraging and bonding, while the latter is unhelpful and unnecessarily divisive.

    One can be a confident person and still have moments of doubts and fear. Vulnerably sharing these moments connects us as humans. Claiming that we never have them is a false depiction of perfection.

  9. Love you, Hadley. And I love this. It reminds me of the psalms of Hannah and Mary, who glory in God’s “extravagant love.” That we could all have that same extravagant love for ourselves. Indeed, we are all spiritual beings having a mortal experience, and those two disparate conditions often collide in feeling less-than or wanting more from this world. You are a great hero to me, Hadley. Thank you for trumpeting your voice.

  10. Pingback: Reclaiming My Divine Nature | Aspiring Mormon Women

  11. Beautiful! Thank you! You voiced both my fears, hopes and prayers as I raise my two daughters!

  12. Such a beautiful and poetic prayer. You have a gift with words. I hope that your daughter will embrace her God-given gifts. I remember a college friend telling me that I would date more if I hid my intelligence. She didn’t understand that I was looking for someone who would love me because of my intelligence not despite it.

  13. Beautiful, beautiful writing…well done Hadley and AMW!

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