Boshemia are proud to present a new periodical series titled “Raising a Feminist”, from regular guest writer and US Boshemia babe Elisha. We’ll hand over and let her introduce herself and her gorgeous daughter.
When I first started on my path of motherhood I was clueless.
Real talk: I was under the personal fable that even though I had no idea what I was doing with my life, somehow the love that I had for the life growing within me would be enough. Though I knew that, scientifically, what was growing inside of me was little more than a bundle of cells, Ryenne was already a person to me in mind and spirit, a life which needed to be intertwined with mine. All my confusion was veiled with the endearing, rose-coloured tint that my pregnancy and the hopeful anticipation of this amazing human had cast upon my life. Realistically, I knew very little about myself or who I wanted to be, but I ardently felt (and still feel) that I could wield a metaphorical scythe which would clear away the brambles of our difficult world for this little being; forging a path which could make Ryenne a better person than I could ever have dreamed to be. In this new age of parenting, we are finding this often: parents whose aim is to create a generation free of the binds that have previously tied us. These binds which cause discrimination against us for race, gender, sexuality, religion or lack thereof, unconventional physical and mental abilities: all the demarcations which make misguided minds very uncomfortable, but over which we have no control. We are parents whose goal is to raise a generation of trauma-free individuals with the capability to surpass the pitfalls of the society in which we were raised. We are Feminist parents, Progressive Parents, Modern Families.
We are parents who love our children unconditionally and, in turn, show our children how to love themselves in a way that we didn’t know we could love ourselves. We see a brighter world which could be achieved if we spread this love to others. It is a legacy which lives forever, a mentality which can shift our society. To those with the nihilistic view that there is no magic in raising children, this may seem illusory. But to those who hold parenting in the proper reverence, it is an unspoken “happiness” which, to coin a phrase from our favourite fictional-sage-mystic, Albus Dumbledore, “can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light”. We are resisting the dark and hateful rhetoric which is quickly spiraling into a void of mass intolerance. In this series, I’ll recount my journey as a Feminist Nouveau Parent as well as evaluate what it means to be a Progressive Parent in this new, tempestuous, sociopolitical climate. It’s my hope that we, together, can avoid raising a generation of little assholes. This includes all of us. Because raising a Feminist takes, not one Feminist mother, but a group of resilient, erudite Feminists like the Intersectional community that Boshemia has created.
Parenting & The Women’s March
There is strength in numbers. An adage that I have never understood this deeply in my life. January 21st, 2017: a date that will, undoubtedly, be recognized by history. It is also the day that I realized just how much strength I hold in the palm of my hand, just how much weight my shoulders can bear. At the same time, it is more apparent to me now than ever, that I am carried with overwhelming buoyancy by the sea of those who see, and share, what is in my heart. Never have I felt so sure in my parenting ability as when I marched into this sea, bearing my daughter on my back in her Ergo Carrier, embellished with her own Feminist proclamation: “I WANT MY WHOLE DOLLAR”. I saw many parents with their children that day, while some parents told me about the little ones they’d left at home because they had feared for their safety. The overwhelming message: we believe in a brighter future for ALL of us. The women (and some men) I met along the way met me with recognition and candor:
“Thank you for what you are doing with her.”
“You’re a good mom.”
“It’s amazing that you brought her.”
“Can I take her picture? I love her sign!” (PS: Thanks for asking first).
As simple as it was, the comment which struck the loudest chord with me, came from a solitary mother with her only child, a daughter. The bond between them was so palpable that I was irrevocably moved. This woman looked at me, with my sleeping toddler strapped to my back and tenderly put a hand on my arm. “I see you, Mama. It’s all for them, isn’t it?” she said, as she subsequently exchanged loving glances with her daughter. The woman then wrapped her arm around her daughter as they shared the truth of this statement. Everything we were doing that day was for ourselves in part, but for the parents marching it was wholeheartedly for our children most of all. We are paving the way for their future: an immense and honourable burden. This recognition, so hard won, filled my heart with hope.
Our march has been met with criticism from the same kind of people who mock the exigencies which lead us to march, which lead us to create and demand Safe Spaces. These people cannot seem to fathom why we should possibly need to march. They cannot fathom the purpose of a Safe Space; a place in which one is met with love, acceptance, and compassion. We are called, “snowflakes”, for having the altruistic idea that everyone deserves a space which is sacred and comfortable. (Kind of like church, don’t you think?) The beauty and perplexity of Safe Spaces is that, unless you have found yourself embraced by one, you may not truly understand what they are or why they exist. I sincerely hope that, if you are an individual critical of this concept, that you may stumble upon a Safe Space at some point in your life, if only to feel an inclusive embrace that may finally allow you to breathe a sigh of relief. I won’t say, “I told you so!” I promise.
It is my belief that our children deserve a Safe Space. It is my belief, because I have seen the evidence that Safe Spaces have an immensely positive effect on them. (It’s yuge; tremendous. It’s true.) Seeing my daughter in the Safe Space which The Women’s March provided to us, was ineffable. Barring the panic-inducing metro travel which had us packed in like very hazardous sardines, Ryenne was a beacon of sanguinity the entire march. She chanted. She sang. She laughed. She gazed in awe at the sheer mass of positive, peaceful, human presence; unlike anything she’s seen in her brief time upon the earth. Seeing Ryenne in the Safe Space that E and her partner provided to us by opening their home, so we could join in on the surreal display of hope and inclusion at the march, filled my heart with a grateful optimism that I’ll never forget. The full spectrum of Ryenne’s transcendently joyful personage was out in full force during this time. I have never felt more proud to be a mother. I will never stop fighting for her ability to inhabit spaces that allow her to bloom. It is my hope that, if you are a parent and you’re reading this, you will join me in crusading for our children in this way. It is my hope that all of you may realise that our children are not just a legacy for us to leave behind. They are the world, the future. They will inherit what we leave to them, but they will take what they have inherited and turn it into something of which we may never have envisaged, even in our fiercest of reveries. We may not be able to completely protect them from the darkness, but we can give them a space to breathe, a comfortable space to land. We can fight for a world in which they can grow, unhindered by the discriminatory presumptions which tell them that they cannot accomplish their dreams simply because of their physical bodies. Will you stand with me?