First Word

Last December, while attending the conference that KDVA helps to organize each year, I had a complete melt down in one of the workshops led by Tisha Pletcher . We were talking about vicarious trauma and participating in a circle, so each person took a turn sharing how working to end violence against women has impacted their lives. All that came to my mind was Addie and how, when I let myself think about it, I am terrified for her to be in this world. (I have wanted to write about this for some time, but knew that whenever I ventured onto this topic, the tears would surely flow... as they did that afternoon.)

Doing the work that I do and knowing what I know, it's so hard to look at Addie's beauty and innocence and not wonder if that will ever be stolen from her. The statistic is one in three... one in three women will be a victim of some form of power-based personal violence in her lifetime. Addie already has two baby girlfriends... how can I even wrap my brain around that? Before I got pregnant I was sure that God would give me a boy. I would be given the incredible opportunity to raise a good man. I was thrilled to find out we were having a girl, but I also felt this strange sort of sadness. Sad because I knew that no matter how educated she is about violence against women--no matter how many warning signs I tell her to look for or how much pepper spray Daddy buys her, she is still at risk. Just by virtue of being female, she is at risk. 

I am not a pessimist. I cannot lead Addie through her life believing that one day she will be a victim... and I won't do that because deep down I don't believe it. But here's what I will do... I will do everything in my power to raise a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful and informed woman. I will take her to awareness events and teach her that her voice is powerful. I will encourage her to explore whatever interests her. I will ensure that she knows that she can do and be whatever she wants to be. I will tell her that she is the most gorgeous amazing girl I have ever seen... every day. I will get up every day and go to work, continuing to do my small part to end this violence and make that horrible statistic a thing of the past. For you, Addie--I promise.

In the midst of that promise, I am confronted with some Addie-inspired, adorable hope. Yesterday we went furniture shopping... again. Poor Addie has seen just about every furniture store in Lexington and she has been a trooper every step of the way. Now I would not recommend bringing along an almost-one-year-old when you are trying to find a couch. Keeping her occupied while we made a decision was interesting and as usual, Addie stole the hearts of everyone in the showroom. She pranced around (with a little help from Daddy) and played with the brochures and was a little ball of precious energy. When we were finally winding down and making a purchase, I held her facing me and she was playing with the Green Dot button I have on my raincoat. (If you have not heard about Green Dot, please take a moment to check it out. It's some life-changing stuff!) I said, "Addie, that's Mommy's Green Dot. What's your Green Dot?" and she replied with, "Dot... Dot." Simple, sweet, one word.... Dot. I shrieked in the store, "Addie said her first word--she said DOT!" She kept playing with my button as though it was nothing unusual for her to respond to one of Mommy's questions with an actual word. Who knew that Green Dot would be the first real conversation Addie and I would share? 
Rock on, baby. And thanks for that onesie, Aunt Patsy. It will always be one of our faves!

No comments: