After a brutal election cycle that really seemed to bring out the worst in people, and the string of troubling events that took place after the election I was in some ways grateful that my child was not old enough to ask questions. The morning after the election, I looked at my sleeping one-year old daughter in dismay. My heartache was not necessarily for the results of the election, but for the fear and division that the results highlighted. As a white-female in this country, the election reminded me of both the advantages and the obstacles that my daughter will experience. My responsibilities as her mother never seemed so clear. From these feelings, I made her this pledge.

To my Sweet Baby Girl,

I promise that …

  • You will always know that you are loved

  • You will always know that others are deserving of love

  • You will know that you have worth and value

  • You will know that no one is better than you

  • You will know that you are better than no one else

  • You will have people in your life who look and think differently than you, who come from different back grounds and have different preferences - and you will be better for it

  • You will understand that simply by being born female you will face challenges big and small - and that others may not recognize those challenges

  • You will understand that you were born with many advantages - you were born in the “West,” you have a roof over your head, you will get an education and you are white- you therefore have privilege even if it is not always visible to you

  • You will understand that you have a responsibility to advocate for yourself and for others

  • You will fail at things, and your father and I will be there to help you learn from the experiences

  • You will be exposed to art and encouraged to be creative

  • You will see the world, and will think about our place in it

  • You will be surrounded by strong women 

  • You will be a role model to others

  • And I promise that I will lead by example

I hope for you…

  • I hope that you will never be the only woman in a professional meeting

  • I hope that at my age the news stories about “first woman this, and first person of color that” will cease to exist - that women and minorities will have such presence in all levels of government and business that there will be no more firsts to celebrate

  • I hope that you will find a partner that is as supportive of your dreams and aspirations as your father is of mine

  • I hope that you have inherited the strength and compassion of your paternal grandmother who took troubled children into her home

  • I hope that you have inherited the grace and grit of my mother who has not only braved the Alaskan wilderness, but who has also worked for over thirty years to rehabilitate first juvenile delinquents, and later displaced employees

  • I hope that you tackle all of the challenges that come before you, that you never back down and that you prevail

  • But most of all, I hope that you do good in the world and make it a better place.

You have my heart-

Love mom

Parenting always feels like walking a tightrope, where one hopes to have enough balance so as not to fail. This is no less so for academic mothers. As you think about your children, and perhaps even students at your university or college, how did you discuss the election and its aftermath with them? How do we continue to engage with our children on these really important issues while trying to address the palpable tension of the last weeks and months?

#prof #ask #blog