I have been thinking about strength and resiliency lately. What it takes to be strong, to bend with life’s misfortunes, to not break. And, raising a daughter, this has been especially important to me. I don’t want her to be a victim or act like a victim, I want her to know when to stand up for herself, how to defend herself against bad words, deeds, and intentions, and how to survive life’s many challenges.
Recently I added a book to my daily reading list. 365 Tao. Each day I read a passage and try to understand it. Sometimes I do, sometimes, not so much. Today I read the following passage:
Arctic breath coils the mountain,
Rattling the forests’ bones.
Raindrops cling to branches:
Jewelled adornment flung to earth.
Trees in winter lose their leaves. Some trees may even fall during storms, but most stand patiently and bear their fortune.
They endure rain, snow, wind, and cold. They bear the adornment of glycerin raindrops, glimmering icicles, or crowns of snow without care. They are not concerned when such lustrous splendor is dashed to the ground. They stand, and they wait, the power of their growth apparently dormant. But inside a burgeoning is building imperceptibly.
theirs is the forebearance of being true to their inner natures. It is with this power that they withstand both the vissitudes and adornment of life, for neither bad fortune nor good fortune will alter what they are. We should be th same way. We may have great fortune or bad, but we should patiently bear both. No matter what, we must always be true to our inner selves.
That really spoke to me.
What if being true to ourselves is also the key to being a strong woman? Cultivating that strength from the inside out?
You Take the Gravel and the Shell and You Make a Pearl
I don’t listen to Pink. But the video excerpt from the VMA awards circulating around Facebook caught my attention. I have watched it nearly half a dozen times now and it still makes me tear up.
There is poetry in the words she utters, “You take the gravel and the shell and you make a pearl.” And I think it is so relevant to so much of life.
We don’t need any grandiose words or popular movements to get behind, but we do need to learn/know/be the person who takes the shit end of the stick and makes something beautiful with it. Partly for our own sanity, and partly because the alternative is simply unacceptable.
She’s Not Afraid to Speak Up
I forgot to mention that in the second week of school, Em had been bothered by this boy who, from what she related to us, sounded like he was flirting with her. Apparently though, I have a daughter who does not put up with such nonsense and complained to the teacher.
That afternoon I received an email from her homeroom teacher mentioning that she had spoken with the boy and Em and explained to him that his actions were inappropriate and that they could get him into a fair amount of trouble if he continued.
He has since shown better behavior and I found the entire exchange fascinating. Em is no shrinking lily, she can and will stand up for herself and what she believes is right.
Em is reaching the age when her body is beginning to develop. We had been in the process of reading What Is Happening to My Body for Girls in homeschool, but had not finished at the end of spring when we took a break. Now with public school, I imagine they will have sex ed, but I would far rather teach her myself by continuing to read the book.
From what I’ve heard, Sex Ed in school can be a mess if not handled right, and I’ve always felt that as her parent, it is fully my responsibility to pass along the education, rather than a stranger. Or worse, no education at all and she learns things the hard way.
I remember her sister saying some things that I found shocking and immature, mainly centered around her fears of her body being “ruined” by childbirth. The last thing I want is for Em to get the idea that having children will “ruin” her. And not only because I want grandchildren some day, to me, that is no different than hating your body for not being in perfect shape.
I remember taking Dee to see the Vagina Monologues when she was a teenager. It was an eye-opening experience for both of us, and rather transformative. I plan on taking Em when she is a few years older.
If there is any gift I can give her to take with her into adolescence and adulthood, it is the sense of being proud of, and happy with, the body she has.