A thank you to strong, kind women

While my friend Janet Mock inspired marchers with her honest, pointed speech at the Women’s March in Washington D.C. on Saturday, I took my daughter to a birthday party. My neighbor Angelie, who I met through a mutual friend, invited me to join her 5-year-old’s birthday celebration. My friend Vicki suggested I ask my husband to take Fei Fei so I could march with her in NYC. I considered it, but I wanted to take Fei Fei to the party and let Angelie know that I appreciated her inclusiveness. 

 

Vicki left her child with her partner and protested in NYC. My cousin Ann marched in NYC too with her own hand painted signs. My friend Christie texted me a photo from D.C. when she saw Janet appear onstage. On Facebook, I saw protest photos from Peoria, Portland, Atlanta, Chattanooga, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, San Diego, Denver and news of worldwide marches in Capetown, London, Edinburgh, Sydney and Antarctica. I was heartened to see people protest and let the Trump administration know that the world is watching and willing to fight. I thanked them for showing up and adding their voices of dissent.

I’ve told Janet this before that sometimes I feel like Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually when she compares herself to Hugh Grant, who plays the prime minister.  (Note: I realize Love Actually propagates misogynistic, fat-shaming bologna. I’m not endorsing the film, but I can’t deny that I’ve seen it and relate to parts.)  Thompson says in the movie, “The trouble with being the Prime Minister’s sister is, it does put your life into rather harsh perspective. What did my brother do today? He stood up and fought for his country. And what did I do? I made a papier maché lobster head.”  

I made a choice to spend time with my child instead of march. I hope I don’t get read like Taylor Swift, who tweeted support but didn’t participate. I wanted to honor my neighbor’s invitation and give Fei Fei a fun day with other kids. I often prioritize my child’s needs before my own. Maybe I was wrong this time. I feel guilty that I didn’t set an example to her about participating in matters bigger than herself. I want to show her how to be strong – not just tell her. When I expressed my self-doubt to Janet and how I feel my identity has been diminished since leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mom, she told me about her interview with Sabrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mom. “Mothers are a force, Mai. You can accomplish whatever you want and be a mom.”

At the party, Fei Fei and I only knew the guest of honor and her parents and siblings. Our mutual friend couldn’t come because her child got sick. Being not so brave, I stayed close to Fei Fei and justified my clinginess because she was 2 years younger than many of the kids in attendance. “Who are you?”asked a 5-year-old in a questioning tone that triggered me, an adult, to furrow my brow and feel intimidated about meeting new people. Fei Fei replied with the confidence she’s gained since starting preschool, “I’m Fei Fei.” Satisfied by her answer, the child warmed up, smiled and began talking about her own upcoming birthday. Although it was a small interaction, I was proud that Fei Fei didn’t shrink or hide herself. Fei Fei used her voice and reminded me to use mine too.

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