Teaching my daughter.
Today many millions of men and women all over the world marched en masse for many millions of reasons which fall under the umbrella of the rights of all people, which include the fifty percent of whom are female. Some marched for respect. Some for fear. Some for zeal. Some for the sake of another. Some for anger. Some for political agenda. Some for true stories and personal history. Some for hope.
Today I thought a great deal about my daughter who is less than two years old but already showing signs of a fierce and determined disposition, and the millions of things I want to teach and demonstrate to her.
There are many places where women (and men) are treated as animals, or property, or worse; where women are the possessions of men or even other women; where people are stripped of their humanity and told they are not worthy of citizenship on earth. I believe this not only happens around the world, but also in our own cities and towns, and in more ways than one. But today I thought of raising my daughter in a place like North Korea, or Syria, or Uganda, and the thought alone brought me to my knees. I thought of my daughter in the future, in high school and college, when she will require a deep sense of truth to fight for others and to fight for herself in the face of this cruel and tricky and wild and mysterious and adventuresome and often terrifying world.
Who will teach Mae
that power is loving the least appealing people
that every human being should be looked in the eye
that nothing about her outward appearance determines the woman she is
that she deserves dignity, fairness, tenderness and justice
that she doesn’t have to be quiet
that she shouldn’t apologize for her big feelings
that she’s been her perfect self since before I laid eyes on her
that her mind is full and deep and capable of unique and unconquerable creativity
that she can pursue any goal and have courage to stand back up when she fails
that there are people in this world who objectify, hate, destroy and humiliate others, but that she won’t be one of them?
I will teach her those things, when there are voices screaming the opposite. I will teach her that she is a universe of joy and potential and intelligence and kindness and fortitude and capacity for great things. It is my job, and although I mourn over the condition of so many of our institutions and leaders and churches and schools and communities and cities and families, ultimately I know that I am Mae’s mother. I’m a woman, I’m a girl, and I will teach her what that means.