Tuesday, May 5, 2009
My Mother's Day Tribute
"I do not wish [women] to have power over men, but over themselves."
This has been a challenging week. I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to spend some fabulous time with our GOTR girls there and conduct a workshop for professionals (and parents) interested in the message of our program.
On Thursday night, my daughter was taken to our hospital, with severe abdominal pain and relentless vomiting. I didn't sleep a wink that night...waiting until sunrise to hit the road and drive the 6.5 hours back to Charlotte.
I'm happy to report the original diagnosis of appendicitis ended up being a mean stomach bug...and while her fever continues today...I am infinitely grateful that she didn't need surgery and that her smile, albeit weak, has returned.
As I made the drive back, my thoughts were swirling...the guilt was overwhelming...wishing I could magically appear at her bedside. The wonder of motherhood is most often filled with joy, but it is a dual-edged sword. With it comes the feeling that I always need to be in two places at the same time. This tug of war with my time and my emotions oftentimes has me feeling inwardly a bit chaotic and out of control.
I remembered Chloe. She is one of my good friends and is nine years old. The last time I saw her, she ran up to me. "Look Molly. Look!" She showed me the sparkles across her fingernails--the silver glitter of girlhood. She was thrilled by the adornment and the simplicity of it.
I admired those ten fingers--everyone of them. Each finger is different--each finger a celebration of glitter, the result of a special-time-with=grandma-manicure.
I look at my own hands and the stories there...
These hands of mine have done much in their lifetime.
The little girl-hands that molded clay ashtrays at summer camp, which my father proudly displayed at his office. "My daughter made this. Isn't it beautiful?"
The adolescent girl-hands that delighted in holding a boy's hand for the first time; hands that later that night pressed on his lower back as our young bodies slow-danced at the 7th-grade dance; the tender touch, the tender moment, this tender memory.
The hands of a young woman, exploring her own sexuality and the discovery there...of the layers of my womanness; the pleasure, the sensation, the wonder of it all. The same hands that ignited the passion in another; that first touch, that first innocent expression of first love. The power of it. So frightening and wonderful all at the same time.
The teacher-hands that wrote chemical formulas on chalk boards, solved algebraic expressions and high-fived high school students who discovered the power and delight of their own intelligence.
The athlete-hands that held steady the handlebars of my bike during the bike portion of the Ironman Triathlon...across 112 milesof Hawaii's lava fields, through fierce winds and over self-doubt.
The mother-hands that held my babies while they nursed, changed diapers at three in the morning, gently washed baby skin, and touched their tiny toes and delicate fingers; hands that played this little piggy, untangled hair, and blew kisses as they marched of to their first days of kindergarten.
The healing hands that placed Band-Aids on skinned knees and provided magical powers on hurt places.
The working hands that wash dishes, mend clothes, do yard work, clean house, and fold laundry.
The loving hands that reach out to my children in those peaceful moments when we interlock our fingers and sit in the still of the moment.
The hands of despair that lift to the sky, gesturing hopelessness, rage and fury.
The hands of hope that come back down again--with gratitude.
Women's hands have much to offer. Our hands lovingly sew the tapestry of our lives, each delicate stitch of which carefully strengthens the lives of so many others. Our hands are powerful. We know the world through what our hands feel, embrace, and love. We build our lives on relationships, take time to touch our children, hug our neighbor, and reach out to others. We are in the "global trenches"--the frontline--working with one another and with children. We hold crying babies, relate to their fear, and constantly reassure in spite of what feels like turmoil swirling around them.
Driving the six hours home from Jacksonville, my mind went here, there and everywhere. I did a lot of thinking on I-95...and again as I have had it before I saw the vision...the vision that keeps revealing itself and is of such intensity that the impact of that vision on me is more than a nudge, or a whisper...but is a shout, a push, a kick.
There is, I believe, an underground current--a claiming of space--where the world of the mother, the daughter, the WOMAN is coming to the fore. We may still possess magical healing powers for skinned knees and give great butterfly kisses, but we are also strategic, wise, and very powerful. The time has never been more ripe for our voices to be heard...to talk about the things that really matter, like education, healthcare, poverty, diversity of thought, open-mindedness and love for children in ALL nations.
While I don't know the exact course this transformation in leadership will take, there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain. Our children, our planet, our lives will be safe, nourished, and loved...when enough women unite and say no more to the narrow definition of power and leadership and broaden it to include language that honors, embraces and celebrates the gifts of our bold and rich woman-experience.