She runs this household. Make no mistake, her presence is not quiet or unassuming and abso-dang-lutely not withering. These months of moving into toddler-hood have strengthened her strong will and persistence to a degree that tries my barely-there sanity. She will zero to rage scream in .2 seconds. “They” say the tenacity she has will serve her well as an adult. One day I’ll be thankful for that. But not today. Not in this Target checkout.
While I’m kidding(?), the fact is- her scrappy pants attitude is a gift. I LOVE IT. She will not be pushed around. She’s a fireball. Those big brown eyes and pouty lips mean you’re done-just done. She will not let you, for one second, slip something by her. Just try and give her the unfrosted Pop Tart. Ain’t having it. She’s strong willed. No doubt in my almost-lost mind. For me, strong will, persistence, scrappy-ness- all of those belong in the JACKPOT column of tools to pull out of the purse of an independent woman.
Strong women. We roar. We yell and protest and write and petition about injustice, intolerance, inequity, insanity, incapability, incompetence, insurance-all the “in’s”. We stand in our heels or Vans or Rothys (worth it, not even kidding) and we go all Katniss Everdeen on whatever or whoever needs it-“in our opinion”. We roar because we want to be heard. We roar for our kids, our marriage, our beliefs, our boobs, our friendships, lord knows our politics.
We know our collective female perspective hasn’t been considered so. many. dang. times. Even now, our roar is oft dismissed, “spectacle”, “emotional” , “defensive”.
It’s good to be heard. To opine loudly and often against inequity. I mean Katy Perry didn’t write a song about it for nothin’.
Sometimes we point our roar in the wrong direction-pouncing on the women and mamas who believe and live differently than our den. The tone turns snarky. It becomes less powerful, instead of being used for goodness, it tumbles out as the ugliest sound of all. Judgement. We disguise it as moral ire but it’s just loud judgement. I’ve done it and it’s the worst.
How do I teach Molly the difference? The spaces between virtuous conviction and judgmental ranting can be thin. What’s the best way to teach her how to support our girl troop, protect her tenets, still be broad minded with room to not only understand but embrace (and even adopt) divergent perspectives.
As I reflected on Molly’s two-ness, and the new year upon us, I realized she’s been given a story from the moment she first took air that might help.
Molly took her first breath in a room full of women. Arguably, every one of us brought a strong perspective about what was about to go down in there. Our’s was a distinct departure from what typically happens in a labor and delivery room so it had the chance of making the situation awkward at best. Instead it was a picture for Molly to tuck away about the ways women can be truly remarkable to one another.
On the day Molly was born, we walked into the hospital unknowing how we would be received. This was not your average birth, evidently I don’t do those. Would the staff be kind? Discreet? Would they give Molly’s birthmom and I the space to experience this tenuous and beautiful 48 hours without additional strains? Would they be flexible with all of the added nuances to our circumstance? Would they treat our birthmom with grace and love, taking care to follow the details she wanted for each part of the birth and after? Would they do all of this without judgement?
In adoption stories, hospital experiences are the wild card. We had heard of amazing experiences and conversely, we had heard some pretty terrible ones too-stories that included judgement, harassment, shame and total disregard for birthmom or adoptive parents.
Within moments of walking into that Kansas hospital though, the whole of us were welcomed. There were no sideways glances when Molly’s birthmom introduced us as “this baby girls parents”. The nurses gave Darrin and I our own room on the Labor & Delivery floor-as in, we were able to sleep at the hospital- rare with adoptions.
No one questioned any part of our birthmom’s very detailed plan for how the birth was to go. She explained to the staff who would be in the room, who would hold Molly first, who would cut the cord, that she wanted no drugs, that she wanted a photographer in the room, how the night and days would go after the birth. Her expectations and wishes for this birth. There was not one “are you sure?” to any of her requests. Each one was met with understanding and accommodation.
The staff had to have had questions. How did we get here? Why were we doing this? Was she sure she wanted us in the room? Had we all thought this through? I’m sure there were opinions about adoption in general and about the birth plan Molly’s birthmom put in place for each step of the way.
As the contractions came closer, the intricacy of the situation was navigated with compassion by the all female staff. Inside the doors stood a doctor who followed, with thoughtful care, a birthmom’s plan for the day without reservation or judgement. A staff of nurses who made the experience special for the two moms in the delivery room, never once mis-stepping, always considering each mom’s vulnerabilities.
A photographer who captured the rejoicing and the mourning of the circumstance without intrusion or prejudice. A mom who labored for hours, wholly present, joyful in anticipation and fully aware of the choice she would make to love Molly in a way that would tear her heart out. A mom who held hands with the laborer, knowing completely the gift she was about to receive did not come without sacrifice.
And then she was here! The celebrations as Molly took her first breath were genuine and pure as every single woman in the room rejoiced in adding a new one to the tribe.
Birth ushered in by a circle of strong women. Now that’s something to take with you, Molly Hucks. I don’t know what was happening outside the doors, out in the big wide world. But inside that room, there was a small slice of interpretation about how strong women with big opinions can not only coexist but they can bring forth life.
No judgements were passed or felt. Each woman in the space was focused and giving of the gift she had to offer in that hour for that very specific cause. Each woman unknowingly dispensed to Molly, in her first breaths, an endowment for what it looks like to use her strength for life giving.
So while you don’t remember exactly those moments, Molly, I do. And I hope you’ll be every single woman in that delivery room.
Be the doctor. Celebrate other women’s choices and stories. Respect and honor the plans others have created for their den.
Be the nurse. Encourage other women. Understand that people make tough decisions and sacrifices for reasons that are sacred to them. Give them genuine care and celebrate with them.
Be the social worker. Help people. Use your your roar to serve others. Be an advocate in the gap. Be a woman that leans in when the chips are down.
Be the photographer. Be a woman that sits back, observes and finds, in the perfect light, a vessel to offer her perspective through art. Always start with knowing she has a story-unique to her alone-get to know it.
Be the one who gave birth to you. Love bravely. When you hear your own voice clearly, know this-it is the most important. Be about strength and courage when you hear that voice. The strength you have, started here. With her.
Be the one who is your mom. Love bravely. Fully consider the story of the woman who may be next to you. Trust God’s design for your story. Hold the hand of the women around you. The strength you have was encouraged and loved. By her.
Be all of us. What we taught you in the very first seconds of your existence in the world is good stuff.
You see, sometimes the most important thing is not to roar your opinion, but rather, with strength, quietly give your gift in a way that breathes life.