As a single mom, co-owner of two businesses, full-time tech writer, CASA, sister, daughter, and friend, when I was given an opportunity to apply to be on the board of Girls Inc. of Monroe County, the decision should have been easy. And it was. I jumped right in. Yes, I am taking a bit of time away from my loved ones and responsibilities — and I do feel bad about that — but it is a cause that calls to my soul: “Girls Inc. inspires all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.”
Of course, I take the mission personally as I have a daughter who is growing up in a world in which she faces daily social, cultural, and legal barriers (still!) to becoming her best self. I can talk all day about feminism and the patriarchy and all the trappings that go along with the political climate in regards to women’s rights, but at the end of the day, what I care about most is Story, Riley, and Maddie and the women they will become.
Ali and I have sometimes very different parenting styles, but one thing is absolutely the same: we are raising and encouraging our girls to be who they are in all things, whether that means they choose to take harp lessons or become a dragon at a fashion show party. And while this works out great in our homes, maintaining that individuality of thought and personality is difficult in society. I am already struggling with the influence of peers on Story, who is eight, and I know it is only going to be harder as she gets older. I feel helpless sometimes, but putting energy into an organization that is almost revolutionary in its goals for change allows me to take action against the helplessness.
At our recent retreat, we worked to create a vision statement, and as I share this with you, I hope that you think about how your child fits into this picture. “Girls Inc. of Monroe County envisions a community where intelligent, resilient, and vocal young women dare to advocate for a more educated and equitable society.”
Of course I encourage you to seek out a branch of this organization in your area and see both what they can offer you and what you can offer them. But at the very least, I encourage you to envision your own daughter or son in that more educated and equitable society and reinforce that vision in your talk and behavior every day. It starts with you.