I told them to wear red today. They asked me why and I said because it’s International Women’s Day. What kind of day is that, Ryan asks. It’s a day for you to be yourself – and celebrate your ideas and your abilities – and remember that people fought for your freedom to express yourself…so, you know, use it. So what do I do? She wants to know.
You get to be extra proud to be a girl, I tell her.
There are girls all over the world who don’t have the freedom you do – it takes a lot of courage to be bold and be who you are and you can do that, WE can do that, but some people can’t – they’re not allowed to or they’re too scared to do it. If we are confident and brave and share who we are with the world, it gives other people permission to do the same. It’s like, what the world needs – just you being you. You know?
Yep, she stands taller, got it. And then she leaves the room – yelling to Mimi to wear red today.
One moment later: Myles barrels around the corner, arms flailing – I want to wear red, he says. Then go find something red to wear, I say. Wait, what day is it? It’s International Women’s Day. Oh right – he turns to leave and looks over his shoulder and says, what does it mean? It’s a day to remember…
That women are awesome, he interrupts. I lift my hand. He squares up and slaps it. Hard. Then turns on his heels and charges down the hall. Super speed. To find something red to wear.
Because he knows — women ARE awesome.
I’m not worried. I am not worried about the next generation. They are full of power and love and creativity and courage – they don’t even see the barriers that we see. They see wide-open terrain and it’s not a question of if they will run, it’s simply a matter of direction. If there is a closed door, they find the cracked window. Where we work with a fixed notion, they bring fluidity – so willing to change the course of things, so open to building a new way of being honest. For them, equality is not an ideal – equality is the reality of their mindset and as such, they will make it real in the world. I see the next generation and I am hopeful and relieved and inspired.
I see the next generation and I’m not worried – because I see the ones raising them.
I see you and I watch us and you know, it’s not easy but we ARE doing this.
In my work, I sit with mothers, and women mothering – not children but the world, and I listen and I lean in – not just to my calling in this career path, but to every single spoken and unspoken word. I get close to the phrasing of a woman’s heart, a human heart, so I can hear it loud and clear – the names of what she wants, the still pause in the silent not knowing of what she wants, that air she moves when she breathes deep and bravely whispers what she can hardly admit she wants.
I have been listening and learning and learning and learning and now, I’ve learned enough to know something about her and about you and about us.
It’s not something complicated, its not really profound or coming from the deepest part of who we are – it actually sits right there on the top, plain as day – so obvious that it shocks me when I notice it because that means that at some point, I had stopped seeing it. But then I land on it, right there, and it hits me in the gut, like an intuition – or it strikes me in the mind, like a remembering – or it washes over my whole body like the truth and it happens when she stops speaking and there is a slight quiet in the room – before anyone says anything, before I can say anything – this really obvious awareness lands smack down in the center of me: she is a badass.
It’s just that simple. She is BADASS.
You are a badass. Women are badass and I know it because I have listened and I have seen and I know we are willing to do all of the things that must be done:
She prays over a stillborn baby and still believes in god.
She picks up the pieces of a broken marriage and dares to love again.
She moves her family across town to be close to the special school where her daughter can thrive.
She shows up to her son’s bar mitzvah looking absolutely stunning in the midst of a full-on brawl with leukemia.
She sits on the edge of a bed and puts cream on her mother’s legs, and smiles when her mother calls her the wrong name.
She holds the dog that saved her life and just she when thinks she cannot bear to let him go she says it’s time now and he passes.
She quits that job, asks for a promotion, starts that business, cleans off her desk.
She intervenes to give him a shot at sobriety. She seeks her own sobriety.
She doesn’t leave. She leaves.
She picks up a paintbrush, takes a writing class, learns to sing. She creates art. She shares it with the world.
She has that fourth kid. She moves to the country. She becomes a Christian. She becomes a Jew. She learns how to meditate.
She devotes her life to her husband’s career, her children’s well-being – it’s not how she thought it would be, it is what it is and she finds a whole bunch of perfectly imperfect happiness in that.
She takes a shower and brushes her teeth the morning after she finds her husband dead.
She learns how to take care of herself, for the first time ever.
She finds out just how much she can do when she doesn’t know what the fuck she is doing – she does it anyway.
And it turns out all right. Because she is a badass. And so are you.
I am not worried about us. We can do these things – we can do all of the things and anything. And our children know it and respect us for it. And the only thing there is left to do is love each other more. Pick up the phone, write it in an email or a handwritten note – YOU ARE A BADASS – and send it to the women and men who give you every reason not to worry. And do it in the name of all of the women who came before you – badass women who didn’t even know the term ‘badass’ because they were too busy embodying it to sit around stating the obvious.