To My Dear and Precious Daughter,
I am writing this letter for you to read in 10 or 20 years. You are napping, now two and a half years old, still so perfectly brave and unfiltered, still so willing to "own" your power. Actually, you're unwilling not to. You know that Love is who you are; you were born knowing this.
What do I mean by "own" our power? To know it; to acknowledge it; to fiercely stand in it; to honor it. To refuse not to embrace the exquisite expression of life that you are.
When you're five years old, or 11, or 26 or 40, will you want to own your power? Certainly you will. For right now, you might be wondering why the hell I'm even asking this.
I ask because women do not fully own our power. If we did, overnight, the world we see tomorrow would barely be recognizable. We instead give our power away--> to men, for a night or for an instant or for a lifetime, for their approval... to jobs we don't love, for years or for moments or for months, for the sense of safety we feel they give... to cultural expectations and images of what we ought to look like, to fill the holes of self-judgment we inhale starting in childhood.... We give our power away to other people's judgments, by letting them sink into our own eyes... We give our power away when any thought we think, feeling we feel, or action we take does not acknowledge that Love is who we are. We aren't bad or wrong for doing it; we're always just as lovable. Yet gosh, sweet child of mine, wouldn't it be marvelous if women stopped giving our power away so much?
I'From the day you were conceived, my life and voice became bolder than ever. Your existence has raised the bar for mine more than anything else ever will. Giving birth to you gave me many things, one of them being a swift, solid smack in the face to stop EVERY single thing I was doing to not love myself. This I must do, for you. No, not for you. But because of the Love you have helped expand inside my being. Can I put this all into words? No, sweet One. But still I'll always try.
There are no easy answers. Owning our power as women requires that we be our boldest, bravest, most rigorously honest selves. No one has the answers for anybody else. The point is to create space for the answers we all have for ourselves, to rise to the surface. We can be curious. We can ask questions. And questions are powerful, very powerful.
When women ask powerful questions, and make space within ourselves to answer them from a place of empowerment, fierce honesty, and deep self-love... Oh my, Dear Daughter, Oh my. Your mama squints at the thought of it. It isn't about power over anything (men, other women, or anything else). It is about power for the sake of life.
Forever yours, dear daughter,
P.S. In your honor, I am inviting a group of women to join me for a 3-part series, three one-hour conversations, about what life will be like when women own our power. Because it isn't a question of if; it's a question of when. Supported by other women and by the power that lies within us -- which is Love itself -- nothing will stop us. How dare I claim this, dear daughter? Because as you well know, and so breathtakingly exhibit with every move you make and every deliciously delightful word you say and tear you cry... Love is unstoppable.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a lifelong letter writer, a mother, freelance consultant and eternal fan of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street. This deeply personal blog and our recorded talks and workshops are devoted to one of her great passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.