The Girl Effect (and my boy)
The generous Tara Sofia Mohr has invited me to add a blog post to The Girl Effect campaign. There are some impressive writers contributing to this very, very cool effort, or dare I say 'effect'. I'm excited to contribute as I intuitively and viscerally understand what this means, what this is all about and why this is so important. But I've hesitated to write and I've been hesitant to post. Part of my reluctance is my general hesitation with writing. It's something I want and need to do more of, to reach you lovely folks, but have never had 'writer' as a part of my self-identity. (I'm working on it!) The other piece of hesitation is that right now I'm pretty pooped out. You see, I'm seven months pregnant and while billions of women have gone through and experienced this, MY energy is starting to wane. So I looked at this. Really? Is my energy really not up to the numerous commitments I've made? Nope, not in this case. It's because I'm pregnant... with a boy.
Having a kid was not really in the cards for me. Not in a "hand I was dealt" sort of way, but rather the hand I'd chosen and have actively played. And my goodness, if I actually did become a mom-type to someone it would for sure be to a girl! I so get girls and the whole array of possibility and unlimited definition for what girl can mean (we're not one single experience). I mean:
- I've been a camp counselor for well over 20 years... and thrive in working with girls and women, helping them see themselves more deeply, with respect and teasing out the hidden aspects in themselves and coaching them into their own leadership. (Not to the exclusion of boys- it's just where my strengths have been.)
- I've been a doula, studied to become a midwife, even gave workshops on menopause at the factory I worked at when I was 19. Women's health is a passion and very intuitive for me.
- I embrace the feminine in me and actively bring it to everything I do. I marry sensuality with intelligence (most days). To me it's as intertwined as a double-helix strand of DNA.
- I'm married to a guy who deeply respects women. Having three older sisters, he's very much my man :) but is very comfortable with and unintimidated by the feminine. Of course he'd be a great dad to a little girl and eventual mentor to her as a young woman!
- I was born in the early '70s when the ERA Movement was hot and felt like a no-brainer to me. Why wouldn't women have equal rights? A young activist was forged.
- My idols, mentors, guides, sages, BFFs are all women (with a few notable exceptions- Big Daddy, Joseph Campbell, Jung, Curt, Stellan, Roan, The Beatles... Truls).
- This list could go on, but this post really isn't about me. But please trust and imagine the 100's of other ways it would be a no-brainer that if I were to become a parent-type, it would be to a girl.
So, when I found out that I was having a boy, I cried. And cried. And cried. Probably from still being slightly in shock that I was pregnant, the flood of pull-all-punches hormones but also because it felt like a missed opportunity to live, teach and nurture the inherent tenants of The Girl Effect; to be the change.
Then my tears started to dry and soon I did't even have any because I realized that whole idea is rather silly. Boys are an important and crucial part of The Girl Effect equation. Men who value and respect women must be the "other half of the sky" if we (collectively) are to be whole. By raising and nurturing healthy, thoughtful, emotionally whole, true-to-themselves boys, we are contributing to a better world. In fact, I'm now just as convinced that this not only a piece of the puzzle but a cornerstone to global change. As The Girl Effect website wisely states, "THE GIRL EFFECT IS ABOUT GIRLS. AND BOYS. AND MOMS AND DADS AND TOWNS AND VILLAGES AND COUNTRIES."
Of course I've known this. But now with a deeper knowing in my bones I see the possibilities. I see what it can mean for girls. I see what it can mean for my son (whom I eagerly anticipate and already love- he rocks!). It's wholeness. For all of them. For all of us. And I have much to learn. But loving him for who he is, and helping him love others for who they are, respect, equality, collaboration, diversity and truth can grow. Opportunity. For everyone.
When I work with teams, business partnerships and social-change leaders who either want to work better and more effectively together or, who want to forge a new, values-based way of doing business, they often come to me requesting a strategy to get them from Point A to Point B. In letting them know a strategy for this type of change is about as effective as sending out a single memo, I quote one of my mentors and trainers, Faith Fuller, from the Center for Right Relationship: "culture eats strategy for breakfast". We're going to have to be the change and own it, folks. All of us.
A plan and steps are great but if we don't internally and collectively become, or at least lean into, the change we seek strategy will never be more than a recipe that falls short of actual and true transformation. The Girl Effect seeks transformation. Add in the boys, the transgendered, the moms, dads, other caring adults... and we become the transformation.
You can count my son and I in on that.