The Women’s March has me incredibly stirred.
I think protests are incredible. Give me old black and white photos of Martin Luther King Jr. marching and I am moved in deep and profound ways. Footage of him being arrested while praying is one of the most painful and powerful things to ever be captured on film. I do not dismiss the importance of peaceful protest, and by no means do I think that those women do not have every right to be walking those streets today.
Right now I sit in the quiet of my apartment listening to a celebrity tell why she hopes that the new President of the United States will fight for her equality, for her healthcare, for her future.
While it is incredibly likely that she and I would disagree on most things surrounding politics, religion, lifestyle choices, etc. I’m proud of her for peacefully standing up for what she truly believes is right.
Nevertheless, I am frustrated.
I am twenty-four years old. I attended public school in this country, and then was later homeschooled. I have not graduated college. Until the last five months, I have not had health insurance for seven years. I am a woman. I am not married.
By society’s standards I could have labeled myself a young, single, uneducated, uninsured woman. To these women marching, I am someone they need to fight for.
But here are the facts: I live on my own. I pay my own rent. I pay a car payment. I buy my groceries. I pay for my Netflix. I buy coffee. I have a job (that was listed as requiring a college degree). Because of that job I now have health insurance. I have a savings account. I am working on my degree, but whether I finish or not, I have a future.
Marching down the street did not get me here.
The government did not get me here.
College did not get me here.
Healthcare and Planned Parenthood did not get me here.
Society told me I was less than as a girl very young in life. I was patronized, mocked, and dismissed as a girl all throughout my childhood. The little boys in my classes, men in the church, teachers, doctors, random people in the grocery store. I heard it all, just like every single woman on the planet has. It was disgusting, outrageous, painful, uncalled for. And you better believe that I have been just as fiery and ticked off at every single tragic thing our current President has ever said to demean a woman. It’s one of the reasons I chose not to vote for either candidate. I didn’t need him to degrade me, and I also didn’t need Clinton to pity me.
I have had disadvantages in society. I have been told I could and would accomplish less, but and the most incredibly naive thing I could have done was believe that the responsibility fell on anyone but me to prove that incredibly wrong.
The education and healthcare systems have done little to serve me in my life and it did not stop me from becoming a self-supporting, independent, health-insured female at the age of twenty-four.
The system was not in my favor. I don’t have a degree. My parents were not wealthy. No one got me this job. I don’t even live in the town I grew up in. No man had to secure this life for me. The government did not have to step on my behalf. My public school did not change my life. Planned Parenthood did not save me. I made smart choices. I did not make those smart choices because someone walked down a street (though, like I said, I do applaud peaceful protest).
Do you know why I made those smart choices?
Because every single day of childhood I had a mother that showed up.
She woke up every single morning and told me I was smart and beautiful. She fought for me. She told me I could be anything I wanted to be, even President.
She taught me how to read at the age of four.
We would sit in the floor and I would learn Hooked-on-Phonics, there was rarely a spelling bee in my life that I did not win. She helped me with my homework every single night. I knew how to multiply before everyone else in my class because she sat with flash cards and ice cream and drilled me. She built my creativity by telling me the most absurd bedtime stories, by giving me paint sets and novels.
When I was eight, she gave me a microscope for Christmas. At nine, she taught me how to balance a checkbook. At bedtime, we would sit on the couch together and watch the news. She would tell me about the Presidential Cabinet and about foreign affairs.
One day I came home from school and told her that a disabled child was being made fun of, she told me to stand up for her, no matter the consequences. When I had a teacher tell everyone that God didn’t create the world, she told me that I was allowed to stand up and say that there were two sides to every story and I had a right to share that one.
My mother is a fierce woman to behold.
She will likely be one of the strongest, most brilliant and well-argued women of her generation. Podiums will probably never have her lean on them, she will likely never march on the streets of Washington D.C. but she has a daughter who sits in her own apartment, employed, with health insurance who is happy and safe.
My mother is making a change, her voice is being heard. She is heard every single day of my life, and the world will always hear her. Because my mother has a daughter who is overcoming every single lie that society throws at her. The world will continue to hear it in my daughters and in their little girls.
Because the kind of woman that makes a change in this world is the one who does the small and faithful things. It is the woman who spends her life sowing seeds of truth the girls in her home that will profoundly change the next generations.
It was Mother Theresa, a great mother, and a great woman who said “Do not wait for leaders: do it alone, person to person.”
Today, if you march, march. But after that go home and raise your children faithfully and beautifully. Do not whine about the systems, the healthcare, the government. Do not stomp your feet and then watch your Netflix. Do not depend on a college education, a government funded organization, or a President to teach, raise, and love your daughters.
Go home and teach your girls to balance checkbooks, read novels, understand the branches of government and their powers.
Stop waiting for the system to serve you; go and serve your daughters.