My darling Macy and Penny,
As I pack my bags, ready to embark on my first graduate school intensive, I want to take a minute to talk to you about ambition and family. If you decide when you're older that you want to become a mother, know that you can fulfill that role however you deem best. Many people will tell you that you're only a good mother if you work or stay home or get married or stay married or breastfeed or sleep train and on and on. People will weigh in during your pregnancy. People will you tell you how to discipline, feed, educate, socialize and train your child.
I want you to know that one of the hardest things for me to learn in my adult life has been how to tune out the opinions of others (especially the unsolicited ones!) and to tune into my gut instincts and inner voice. The world will have so many things to say to you about your value as a woman and if you decide, as a woman with children. People will tell you to be smaller because you have babies. You are needed in the diapers and the laundry and the millions of feedings. In these ten years as a full-time parent and part-time business woman, I have tried my best to hold space for what I perceived as your needs and for what I felt I needed as a person. And there have been seasons where that has been tremendously difficult. It is so important to not get lost in the mundane, in the roles, in the predetermined rules, in the responsibility of it all. I can say that because I take my responsibilities seriously (if you don't, that's a different conversation).
It is because I take my responsibilities seriously, that I must also take seriously my responsibility to care for and to be true to myself, to my purpose and sense of contribution in the world. People will tell you that a social contribution is something separate from mothering. It is not. Mothering is a tremendous contribution to make in the future of society whether you also earn an income doing it or not. I am raising you to be strong, kind, honest young ladies in the world, to make space for people different from you, to share your joy and to continue to make peace in the world. I couldn't be more proud of (and grateful to your father) the time that I was able to focus on your upbringing in these formative years with you at home.
I want to make the world a better place. I have for as long as I can remember. I have a deep passion for social justice and for theology and human relationship. So while you are in school during the day, I will be reading and writing and learning more in these areas. I will discipline myself. I will hone my skills. I will see where this road takes me. I will try to be a voice for the voiceless, to listen to stories that aren't being heard and to bridge the gaps in our society. And at 3pm, I will be in that pick up and will always back you up. No matter how far I venture into the world outside of our tiny nest of four, I will always come home to you. I will tuck you in and I will read you books and I will love you forever. Some things will not change no matter how old you get. You will always have a home in me.
It is my ultimate goal to provide stability for you at home while clearing the path for you in the world. Your words matter. Your beliefs are your choice. Your ambition is encouraged. I'm getting out there for me, undoubtedly. But I'm also getting out there in front of you to show you the way. I want you to see how it's done. Your day will come. And it's gonna be great!
Now about catching that flight...