January 20, 2018, Women’s March Chicago
A lot has happened since January 2017. If you listen and look, you can hear the change and see it, too. A lot of people, especially a large part of an entire gender, found their voice. To the dismay of some, I believe we are a better country. I know I am a better mother.
Last year, I didn’t take my daughter to the Women’s March, despite fact that I planned to march for her. I was ok with that. I needed to go on my own. The moment was not static. It propelled many of my actions throughout the rest of the year, including my actions this morning when my daughter resisted attending today’s Women’s March in Chicago.
At first I I quietly, resentfully accepted her pushback. Then I decided I didn’t want to shrink. I asked her to come up to my room, and I started a tearful plea. I told her that every person in this country has a woman to thank for being born. And that’s what motivates me to work to create a level playing field for all people, gender, ethnicity, and sexual-preference alike. I told her I don’t want her to live in a world where her vagina is a liability. How can a person who is essential to bringing life into the world be treated so poorly? This is a country where her gender means she makes 28-cents less than her male equivalent. A country where “equality” is a hollow word filled with adjectives like homophobic, racist, misogynistic, supremacist, narcissistic, ugly, evil, and wrong. She was the reason I marched last year. She was the reason I got out of bed nine out of ten days last year. She was the reason I went to Minneapolis to consider running for office. She was the reason that I would march this year. She is my purpose. I told her emphatically, that I needed, not wanted, her to march with me.
There were a lot of tears and a lot more words. She washed up, and I packed up a bag with snacks, bottles of water, gloves, and hats. I left the fat sharpies and poster board behind. I knew that she would not want me to draw any additional attention to us. And I needed to respect her boundaries.
Was it a drama-free morning and afternoon? Of course not. She’s 12.5 years old, and she’s my daughter. Yes, she bemoaned the longer than expected speeches at the rally, complained about the cold, and shushed me when I hooted, hollered and hurrayed too loudly for her liking. And when she accepted that we were not returning to the car early, she took comfort under my arms that wrapped around her tired and frustrated self.
More often though we laughed and we smiled. We applauded. We chanted. We jogged in place when our feet were cold. We held hands to navigate the crowd. We were there in unison. We agreed that our presence together in solidarity with men and other women across this world was pretty awesome.
And when we made it to the federal plaza and headed back to our car, she even smiled for a picture that I asked some strangers to take. Then I asked one of the two young women about how she dyed her hair blue because I knew my daughter wanted to do it. “Cool.” the young lady with the blue hair said. “I’ve been dying mine since I was in sixth grade,” she said. “I am in seventh,” Bridget said and smiled from ear to ear.
It was a moment. Bridget spoke up for herself. It was a start.
We did it. I was proud and grateful. Now she knows what democracy looks like. She saw no shrinking violets in the crowd of more than 300,000, herself included.