I thought I might take my daughter with me to march tomorrow. Meet up with my sister and maybe even my mom; don our pink hats and raise our voices. But I felt anxious. Inexplicably so.
I asked a friend if she and her daughter were going and she said, "I'm not so sure about bringing her to the march. I don't know why. Is it because I feel I need to "protect" her from the impetus behind the gathering? Preserving 'innocence', you know?"
And as I read her words the knot in my stomach suddenly made sense.
Because I don't want to explain these things to my daughter.
Not because it would be difficult for me, but because she – like all of our children - deserves a bit more time to dwell in the innocence of youth. To savor this carefree chapter that always ends too soon.
As homeschoolers we are especially blessed with a lingering innocence. And I'm relishing that experience for both of my kids.
I want my children to grow up brave, not fearful. I want my daughter to be hopeful, not draped with shame. I want her to be real and kind and authentic – not cowering beneath the dark cloud of a messy story that we all share.
And though we talk often about consent and about our body being ours alone, I don't want to explain the backstory just yet.
The backstory of why a "pussy hat" represents feminism or what these words even mean. And while I am raising her to fight like hell if anyone does anything that makes her feel afraid or objectified or threatened, I don't want to talk about assault or rape; violence or oppression.
I want it all theoretical for now. Not real life.
But of course it is real. For all of us. It's just that I don't want to explain that part yet.
I don't want her to know what it feels like to glance over your shoulder at the sound of footfalls behind you in the street, or to laugh awkwardly after an inappropriate comment, touch, or gesture. I don't want her to know all of the ways that sexism really manifests in the world. But all women know this story. We grew up with it. We have lived with it forever.
And I say this as a white woman. A person who grew up with privileges that many are denied but all deserve. What of those who wear layers of "otherness" in their gender, sexuality, race, and creed?
So we talk about it all, but not in all the detail.
Because I don't want to explain this to her yet.
Childhood is a time for freedom and wings, not fear and anxiety.
Childhood is for magic and wonder, not uncertainty, confusion, or grief.
And I want her to bravely soar, not look over her shoulder constantly like all of us grew up doing.
Not now. Not yet.
And so I needed to give myself permission to sit this one out.
As difficult is that is for me, a woman who has identified herself as a feminist since childhood.
I needed to miss "my" march. Because that felt like the most authentic choice I could make.
Girlfriends, it is your right and honor as women to march on Saturday. To make some noise! To raise some hell.
And it's also your right and your privilege to decide to stay home. To give yourself permission to find a different way to make your voice heard.
Your feminist badge will not be revoked if you opt out due to anxiety or fear or overwhelm. Honor your truths, and give yourself permission to go or to stay. You get to decide. That's part of your power. The power to choose your own path.
Likewise, it is your right an honor as a mother to proudly bring your daughter (or your son); to march side-by-side and show them firsthand what feminism looks like.
Just as it is your right an honor to protect her young heart for just a little while more.
Because, perhaps, there are things you aren't ready to explain yet, too.
So make no apologies for bravely marching on Saturday, nor for staying home.
And certainly not for your desire to protect her innocence for just a few moment more.
You can find the nearest march happening tomorrow here.
Love you all, my sister-friends. Stay brave, stay true, stay kind.