My daughter revealed recently when discussing the new Captain Marvel T-shirt I bought for her, that girls at school refer to me as “Girl Power Mom.”
As you can imagine, this news made my day/week/year/life.
But before I add the moniker to my LinkedIn title – and yes, I do think “Marketing/Communications specialist and Girl Power Mom” has a certain ring to it – I have found myself considering why it fills me with such joy, and how I got here.
Looking around, it would be easy to believe that my nickname grows from my obsession with all things “Girl Power” as the trappings can be found at home, work, on my feet and on my keychain. But all the t-shirts, socks, pillows, stickers and motivational artwork are just that – decoration – and one way for me to exert influence (because if you want more movies like Captain Marvel, you can’t just buy a ticket to the movies. You have to buy the merch).
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I did not set out to be a Girl Power Mom, but I realize now that it was always in me. From the moment our daughter arrived, I told my husband that she would receive the same opportunities as our son. Getting a lightsaber for him? Better buy two. Legos in the stocking? We’ll fill two. Heading to the driving range? You got it, better have enough balls and clubs for two.
Being a Girl Power Mom isn’t about giving our daughter different opportunities – it has been about giving her and my son the same opportunities and letting them choose from there.
Being a Girl Power Mom doesn’t mean ignoring our son, or dimming his light, but instead helping him understand that success for others means success for all. It means facing the tired stereotypes of “extreme feminism” so he can understand why he should be (and likely is) a feminist.
Being a Girl Power Mom is encouraging our daughter, her peers and other women to embrace their power, and not to give it over to boys who try (on purpose or inadvertently) to take them down with an unkind comment. It means calling out my daughter when she is the one making the unkind comments and, in the heat of the moment, taking down other young women.
Being a Girl Power Mom means giving our son a safe space to ask questions and to process the world as we all adjust to the swing of the pendulum from one extreme to another. To answer his criticism that there is ‘too much girl power stuff’ around the house (including my “a woman’s place is in the White House pillow”) with honesty. And to encourage him, and my husband, to embrace the power they have to “normalize” and amplify messages into networks we cannot pierce.
Being a Girl Power Mom is about helping our daughter, her peers and other young women I have met, avoid the traps that I fell into at their age. Traps related to body image. Owning their sexuality. Embracing their confidence. Finding their voice.
And recognizing that I’m still falling into those traps.
Because here’s the really wild thing as I look back on the past 14 years – being a Girl Power Mom is not just about our kids. It is about embracing my own “Girl Power.”
Being a Girl Power Mom means practicing what I preach. Owning my voice, my energy and my overall enthusiasm for. . . everything! (!!!!!). It means embracing my awesome when, in the past, I would have demurred or downplayed.
Being a Girl Power Mom means pushing myself to do the things I would ask of our daughter. To put myself into uncomfortable situations, as when I “invited” myself to speak at a women’s event with a powerhouse line up of athletes, or each time I send an email to a conference organizer to say “hey, I know some things, how can I help?”
Being a Girl Power Mom means confronting stereotypes – no, I will not be grabbing a gun to keep our daughter’s suitors from entering our home when I welcomed our son’s girlfriend – and pointing out when my husband slips into inadvertent body-shaming while watching television (the woman on tv can’t hear you, but our kids certainly can).
Being a Girl Power Mom means recognizing my own unconscious biases – our daughter’s fascination with makeup was a tough one for me – listening to her, learning more about the skill it takes, and even getting to a point where I could appreciate (and even channel those skills when I’m heading out on the town). It’s understanding that I have so much to learn, that I don’t have all the answers, and then often I need to stop and listen.
I still haven’t gotten to the point where I’d be okay if she said she wanted to be a cheerleader. I am, if anything, a work in process.
Being a Girl Power Mom means trying new things, pushing back and moving boundaries with the expectation and understanding that I could/will fail. Fall on my face. And get up to try again, without embarrassment, despite the wounds to my psyche or my face.
Being a Girl Power Mom means identifying unconscious bias in a professional capacity, even when it can lead to some awkward moments, and pointing out that being a woman doesn’t protect us from being biased towards men. And pushing against those inadvertent biases, even if means insisting including a certain ratio of women in events I help plan or am involved in.
So here I am. Girl Power Mom. I don’t have a logo or domain. But I do have a ton of t-shirts that, to quote my daughter, are “completely on brand.”
And soon, I’ll have a new title on LinkedIn.
I’d love to hear what you think it means to be a Girl Power Mom – because I know I’m just scratching the surface.