There’s one thing I totally failed to say in my post about the World Cup. It is that one of my very favorite things about the phenomenon I observed of people falling in love with the US women’s soccer team was how it happened to both boys and girls. Whit was as excited to watch the games as Grace was. I loved seeing both men and women, adults and children both, commenting on the powerful example those US women set.
And I think that is crucial. I want Whit to admire female athletes as much as I want Grace to esteem men’s sports. As long as girls only root for girls and vice versa, I think we’re missing something essential. But when everybody celebrates everybody else, for their particular grace and grit, then, I think, we’ve achieved what we aim for. I loved watching that around me in this summer’s World Cup soccer matches.
This transfers over into other realms, too. It is specifically resonant, for me, in the realm of working motherhood. Quite often people comment on what it is like to be working mother to a daughter. They say that I must be pleased to be a role model for Grace.
As an aside, I feel the need to be crystal clear here: there are many successful and elegant paths through the forest of motherhood and work, and everybody finds the one that works for them and their family. Mine happens to be working in a full-time professional setting, and so that is what I comment on for myself.
And I am proud of the example I’m setting for Grace. There’s no question about that. But I’m equally cognizant of setting an example for Whit. It’s as simple – and as complicated – as that. I think both girls and boys need to honor and appreciate the various ways that both men and women can be in the world. I think both boys and girls need to recognize the efforts of all adults in their family. I have never thought equal meant precisely the same, and I don’t here – men and women are different in a million ways, but they are equivalently important (in my opinion). I sense Whit’s gaze on me as I stumble my way through working motherhood just as heavily as I do Grace’s.
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