Tag Archives: daughter

Why I participated in the Women’s March

Nicki

My daughter asked me to write a blog post on why I participated in the Women’s March organized by the YWCA here in Niagara, which was in tandem with hundreds of marches around the world on January 21st.

While I talked about standing in solidarity with my American sisters, I want her to know I did it for her, I did it for the other women in our family, especially for my granddaughters.

Especially for my granddaughters.

I did it especially for my granddaughters because I don’t want them to experience the blatant discrimination I often experienced while growing up in the 70’s and on through the last forty years. I don’t want them to ever second guess their ability and how it measures up to a man. I want them to grow up feeling 100% equal to any man, period.

You would think that in the forty years since the second, third and fourth waves of feminism have gone past we would have seen real change… and yet we haven’t. There have seen small changes, girls and boys are able to compete against each other in sports, although we still have to make strides for women and men to compete against each other. There are men who take a more nurturing role in parenthood…at least in my circle of friends and family I’ve seen a more equal division of tasks. In Canada, women have choices when it comes to their body and whether she chooses to keep a baby or not, although for many in the United States this choice has been taken away or made much more difficult to access.

These changes are small and aren’t enough. Men still earn more money than women, even if they are doing the same job. Men still are promoted at a much faster rate than women. Men still don’t take on half of the family duties, leaving the majority of the household chores and child rearing duties to their female spouses. Men still feel it’s ok to tell a woman what to do with her body. Men still think women are able to give consent when they are passed out drunk.

The lack of change on these issues are often blamed on women for not standing up for themselves and speaking up about it. There are some women who blame other women for this lack of change instead of all of us looking at the systemic changes that need to happen. And for that, we need men to shut up and listen, and that may take some time.

I marched with millions of women because I want the women in my family, and all young women for that matter, to be able to stand up tall, to not question themselves, to love freely and to be unconventional. I don’t want my granddaughters to define themselves through traditional values, unless of course, they choose to themselves. I want to ensure that women’s equality progresses to the point where we can actually say we are truly equal, and I want to be around long enough to see this happen, for my daughter, my daughter in laws, and especially for my granddaughters. Because it is about time.

“Because it is about time.”

We have talked about equality for a long time. Generations of women and men have talked about it and I am getting a little impatient, especially for my granddaughters. (I used to say for my daughter, but I’ve given up on the notion that it will happen for her.)

I marched because I don’t want to see hard won fights regress. I marched because I wanted to wake up the silent majority, to make sure women’s issues are taken seriously. I march because I don’t want my granddaughters to ever be devalued by experiencing discrimination in any way.

Murray

While many dads all over the country are looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day this weekend, for Murray, today will be yet another reminder of what he doesn’t have: time with his daughter. Murray’s daughter was about a year old when the relationship between him and his partner dissolved. They had had a good, happy relationship, but financial troubles and irreparable issues slowly eroded what once had been love. Murray came home one day to his things packed up in boxes, and he was asked to leave. He found shelter with his parents for some time but that wasn’t a long-term solution. Murray reached a low point and finally decided to move the Niagara Falls Men’s Shelter run by the YW.

“When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger.”

Since then, he has seen his daughter once. She is almost three now. He keeps toys for her in his tidy shelter unit, but he doubts that she will ever get to play with them. “When I do see her, she is shy and timid, like you would be with a stranger. She shouldn’t have that with her own father,” he says, angry, disappointed. Murray and his daughter’s mom turned their lives around when they found out they were having a child. “We got off the drugs; we got clean together – it woke me up. She was a blessing.”

Today, almost three years later, he feels like a babysitter who only gets to see his daughter on rare occasions. “She’s a good mom, and I realize I still have things in my life to clean up, but I just want to see my daughter. Even just for a couple of hours a week; that is all I am asking for.” Going through the court system is simply not an option for Murray at this point and by the time it will be, it might be too late. “A daughter or a son need their father as much as their mother.”

His biggest worry is that by not being around her, he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned.

Murray knows that he has made mistakes in his life. “I was young; I was stupid,” but he is doing everything he can to get back on his own two feet:  he is trying to find secure housing, he is trying to find a job – and try is all he can do. The same goes for his daughter. He will not stop fighting for her and he won’t stop trying to be the dad his daughter’s mother needs him to be in order to let him see his child. His biggest worry is that by not being around her he can’t teach her the many things that he has learned. Murray is homeless. He has fought the excruciating battle that is substance addiction but here he is: 27 years old, sober and determined to get his life back. There are lessons he has to pass on, values that go beyond materialism, things he believes in, beliefs that have helped him to keep going and to never give up.

When he talks about the few memories that he has been able to share wiMurrayth her, a big smile washes over his face. “On my mom’s street, there is an owl that sits on a fence and as soon as we turn onto the street, she says to me: let’s go, see the owl, daddy! It’s moments like that, just getting to spend time with her, just hearing her say daddy, that are my favourite memories.”

Things My Mother Taught Me

For the month of May we are focusing on motherhood. Today, we hear a daughters perspective, written by one of our newest bloggers, Steph.

1. You can always make something out of nothing. Even food.

Something that I have always admired my mum for is her undeniable talent of being able
to make a meal that would satisfy even the pickiest of eaters with very minimal cooking ingredients. We could have tomatoes, red peppers, and mushrooms in the fridge and my mum would be able to whip up some form of a salad with a fancy dressing. Her meals are always good and probably aided in my adventurous eating habits over the years. I’m also more likely to experiment with mixing different foods, rather than seeing nothing in the fridge and ordering in greasy Chinese (although there is always time and room for Chinese food).

My mum’s talent of making something out of nothing in the kitchen also crosses over into her outlook on life experiences. Whether she realizes it or not, my mum is a pretty positive woman and I try my hardest to match her positivity in even the most frustrating of situations. She always encourages me to see the bright side in dark situations; even when it’s really, really hard to. If I did horribly in a course at school, my mum would always flip the negative into a positive and talk about the experience I gained even though I didn’t do so well. Mum always believes that nothing in life is a failure, only a lesson that can be learned from and put to use in the future. Even though I’m sure she thinks that I’m not listening to her positivity when I’m feeling down, her making something out of nothing theory has changed my perspective on a lot of things in life.

2. Never undersell yourself to anyone.

My mum is, and has always been, a firm believer in talking about yourself in a positive manner. Why should you feel as though you cannot talk about how great you are at something for fear that you’ll offend someone else? Did you get a great mark on an assignment? Go ahead and tell someone when asked how school is going.

Underselling yourself is an easy trap to fall into, but achieving something or just being your awesome self is something that your peers appreciate and want to hear about. If they don’t appreciate your awesome-ness, then maybe there are some things that need to be reevaluated.

3. Never undersell yourself to yourself.

Never tell yourself that you are worth less than anybody else. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you? You are worth being proud of yourself.

4. Despite everything you believe, your mother is probably right.

Like any person in their early twenties, I like to think I’m right. All of the time. I struggle accepting advice, especially from my mum, because I feel like I know what the right thing is for myself. Sure my mum has been around three decades longer than I have, but what does she know?

Actually . . . she knows a lot.

Relationships, work, school, friendship, personal advice; my mum seems to have an answer for all of it. As much as I tend to tune her out and “yeah, yeah, yeah” my way through a conversation, I usually come to find that she was right all along.

Yep. Should have left that job when I had the opportunity to start somewhere new.

Yep. Should have started that assignment and asked the Professor for help waaaaay before the night before the due date.

Mum: even though it may seem like I’m not listening to you 75 percent of the time, I really, really am. There is just this . . . itch in me that requires my twenty-two year old self to be independent and make my own decisions. This itch will go away eventually, I’m sure. Until then, however, know that you are almost always right and I am indebted to all of the priceless advice that you have gently and harshly given me throughout my life.

5. You can do everything you’ve ever wanted on your own.

My mum has solely raised me since I was ten years old. My parents separated the summer before grade five, and since then, my amazing mum has taken on the roles of both mother and father. Never once has she missed a parent-teacher interview, a recital, or school event. Never once has she said “no” to helping me with homework or a tough problem in my life. My mum has always been the one to give me a pat on the back when I’ve done something that I thought was impossible. She has been a voice of comfort, encouragement, happiness, and love since I can remember. Never once has she complained or used her solo-parental role as an excuse to be mad or bitter.

From the time I was about seventeen, I began to appreciate and better understand my mum and the millions of things that she has done for me throughout my life – both with my dad and without. It might have been my teenage attitude, but I don’t think I ever fully expressed how appreciative I was towards her. Or maybe it was personal life experiences that have made me realize I have an amazing mother and that she deserves to be appreciated every single day.

My mum, through her unwavering strength, has taught me that you can accomplish anything on your own. You don’t need to be in a relationship or have a hundred friends to make things possible in your life. Accept help when it is being offered and ask for help when you are in need, but never be afraid to tackle tough situations head-on (like managing to hang a mirror with no level or screwdriver . . .)

6. A good cup of tea can make everything wrong in the world, right again.

Being that my mum is British, it seems only right that I write about the great benefits that tea can have on one’s life!

As I’m getting older, I find that the time I physically spend with my mum catching up on everyday occurrences have become less and less. Between work, school, and both our social lives we sometimes get caught up in the tidal wave of being busy and don’t realize how much time has gone by without actually having a decent conversation with one another. But the times that we do spend together, and some of the moments that I cherish the most, are spent with a cup of tea in our hands. On Sunday mornings, before bed, or in the middle of the afternoon we spend time catching up on life and reflect on the week(s) that we’ve had. Some of our greatest conversations, debates, and advice-giving moments have taken place over a cup of tea. Sometimes an hour or two has passed and neither of us have realized.

Even in moments of happiness or sadness, there always seems to be a pot of tea on the go in our house. Sometimes all my mum and I have to do is look at each other; we know when a cup is needed for both of us. Tea, for us, has become our glass of red wine.

While I realize that a literal cup of tea does not fix all of the problems in the world, it is the meaning behind the cup of tea that makes everything wrong, right. Comfort, reflection, conversation, and time with my best friend.

7. There is no time limit in life, but always put 100 % of yourself into everything you do.

University is hard. Actually, any level of education can be hard. After fourteen years of schooling prior to university or college, it can begin to feel as though you have found a lifelong career in being a permanent student. Like anyone, I had struggles throughout post secondary years and really began to feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere, beginning with me finding out that I would have to take more credits since I had changed my major half way through.

My mum was able to fund my way through university (for which I am forever grateful) and the thought of taking more credits and spending more time at university made me feel guilty. How could I tell my mum that I would be staying in school for another year?  Asking my mum to pay for me to spend another year at school made me feel guilty for not stepping up to the plate.

After a lot of discussion, my mum sat me down and explained that she did not care how long it would take me to finish university.  The point is that I stayed in school when many of my friends and peers did not.  At the end of the day, my mum explained that no one would ever be able to take my education away from me; even if it took five years to accomplish.  All that matters is that I put 100 percent of myself into every experience, assignment, and responsibility I am given throughout my time at university.

8.  Always smile.

My mum has always said that a smile is contagious. If I’m ever in a bad mood or upset, but mum says I should force a smile on my face; “it will make you feel better.” See number four on how mothers are always right.

9. Love Hard

Perhaps the most important thing my mum has ever taught me is how to love image-3unconditionally. Even at my most ugly emotional and physical moments, my mum will tell me how much she loves me and how lucky she is to have me as a daughter.

The love of my mother has shown me how to accept and appreciate positive love from others; and how to give it in return. The love of my mother has made me feel less lonely in my loneliest moments and happier in my happiest moments. I pray that I am able to show as much unconditional love for my children as my mum has done for me.

Mum, I love you and am so lucky to have you as a mother. Happy Mother’s Day.