From a Mother to Her Daughter

You will study this time in history some day. You will be in college debate, or ethics. You will, perhaps years from now, be helping your own child study the politics of this time. And if I am there, you may look to me and ask - what did you do?

What did you do when they spoke about your personal rights as if they had no real meaning? When they spoke of you as property? When they looked at you as an object to be had? 

What did you say when they refused to let you speak? When you told your truth above the pain and they accused you of simply trying to cause trouble? When your pain and your truth were relegated? Were ignored?

Mama, what did you do?

This question haunts me. I watch and read and see what is around me and I am so frightened. And I feel powerless.

But then I think of you. I see your smile. I hear you debate your favorite topics. I see you dance to your favorite songs while singing at the top of your lungs. I see you clap at super hero movies and spar in karate.

I see how wonderful and strong and brave and free you are.

And I become a mother.

I become enraged. And I know I have the power in me of every mother who ever lived over time. Every mother who knew, in her heart, that this world does not deserve you. Every mother, every woman, who was willing to stand up and take the fire because what she loved most stood right behind her.

Every mother who raised a match because it had to all burn down.

And so, what did I do?

And the answer - as small as it is - is all I have.

I spoke up, not just when I had to. I raised my voice to be heard. I dropped my ballot to be counted.

I spoke of light.

I stood in my own power, refusing to be diminished, and I spoke of drowning out the darkness with the bravery of truth.

Of how imperative it is we live our lives as truthfully as we can. I spoke about letting go of outside expectations and seeking out our own truths.

I spoke about how when you learn to be honest and truthful with yourself, your ability to empathize and be honest with those around you increases doublefold.

But most of all, I lived my truest life. I learned to be proud of myself. And though it wasn’t always easy, I strove to show my truest self to the world without apology or shame.

And I opened my heart. I burst it into a million pieces and I shared my story.

Then I listened, really listened, when those around me began to share their own stories. 

Not as proving points. Not in order to form a response. But opened my heart to them. Took in THEIR stories. I tried to love them. As best I could.

I stand, still, this burning match in my hand. Do not get me wrong. And I will fight with all I have - I will rage and I will raise my fist and my voice and I will destroy it all if I must to protect you.

But I know well, as this rage overflows in tears that run down my face, that violence and hate comes from fear and it solves very little.

That to combat this hate, this ignorance, that surrounds us I must meet it with light. I must create to combat the destruction. I must love to combat the hate.

And so I will stand and speak out - I will share my truth and welcome and love others for theirs. 

I will use the power that I have for good.

I will use it for you.

And I will not stand idly by - so that years from now when you turn to ask me,

What did you do?

I can tell you - I shone as brightly as I could to conquer the darkness.

Misty Bell Stiers