On this historical day of the Women’s March, I spent the day watching my daughter do gymnastics. We had never been able to afford to send her, but she was gifted a session for Christmas. I welled with sadness and joy as I watched her determination, her strength. I noticed things about my daughter I never have. The tone in her legs, the way she looks down and exhales with her little mouth in an o-shape, the big grin she displayed as she did a perfect finish pose each and every time, whether she did it right or wrong. I realized that this day is about her. This is for her. She will have to fight twice as hard, work twice as much to achieve self-esteem and respect of others. And today I saw her strength.
I often feel weak, invisible and inadequate. I feel I am not a good enough mother, not a good enough manager, not a good enough woman. My chronic pain magnifies these insecurities as they can often prevent me from doing the things I’m “supposed” to do. I didn’t fold a basket of clean laundry for almost a week. My pain has been heightened this week thanks to stress and anxiety. It has been crippling at times. What kind of mother doesn’t fold her children’s laundry? My husband has been getting the kids up and off to school every morning while I sleep just a little bit longer. I know my body requires it, and I know my family understands it, but what kind of a mother doesn’t get up to take her kids to school? I rely on my husband to remember the majority of my life for me. He has to remember where I put my social security card, where I put my keys, why I walked into the room. What kind of woman depends on her husband for so much?
But today I know the answers to these questions. A strong, selfless, loving mother, wife and woman does these things. My laundry basket does not define what kind of a mother I am. My chronic pain does not make me a weak woman. My reliance on my husband does not make me a bad feminist. If I feel shame for who I am, what I can’t do, what I need, then I am teaching my daughter to feel shame. If I force my husband to not take care of the household for the sake of breaking down gender roles, I am showing my daughter that a loving, empathetic relationship does not count. If I apologize for my chronic pain, I am teaching my daughter to apologize for her own shortcomings.
So today I stand with women all over the country to say I am enough. I am not inadequate. I am powerful beyond measure. I am a warrior.
“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson