Happy 7th Birthday

March 27, 2014

To Persephone Devine Wahltuch,

You are seven years old today.  You climbed down from your bunk bed into my waiting arms this morning still a little fuddle-headed.  We all sat together on Tally’s bunk and wished you a happy birthday while you tore open your present.  I’m pleased that you were pleased with your new clothes.  Just in time to wear them for your school photo today.  I spent some time this morning looking at pictures from the past year.  It is truly amazing what you have experienced and grown with over the past twelve months.  Your family is very proud of you; everyone here in Canada, back ‘home’ in Australia and those further afield.

Do you remember your sixth birthday?  It seems so long ago and far away to me.  You might remember we celebrated a little early, in February, because by the end of March we were living in a new country and we had no other family or friends around us.

I think it is a testament to your open personality, your warmth and your all-round appeal that everyone we invited to your party came to wish you well and bon voyage.  Instead of giving you presents, that we may not have been able to pack, people very generously gave you money.  You and Tally both got new bikes from this generosity of your friends.  This summer perhaps you’ll be confident enough to take the training wheels off?

I’m so very proud of your strength and resilience that travelling around the world to find a new home and new experiences didn’t phase you at all.  You have adapted to moving house, plane travel, new schools, very different weather and riding the school bus with aplomb.  From the very first day you opened your eyes and your mind to see what you could see; from the first flakes of falling snow to the new faces in your classroom.

Do you remember what else you have done this year?  You have travelled to even more new countries, meeting more of your extended family, playing so nicely with baby Hamish, wading out into the North Sea with Alison, Pamela and Willie, and cradling tiny newborn Rex in your arms.  You bounced in and out of our rented motorhome to find more friends wherever we stopped.  I wish for you that bounce and confidence and ready smile for new friends for all your life.

We also had a holiday at Christmas time where you tried so many new things for the first time- ice skating and snow skiing chief among them.  Next winter we will ski and skate much more; we’re sure you’ll be a pro in no time!  You didn’t hesitate when it was time to harness the dogs to the sled for our exhilarating mush thru the forest.  And you made sure every dog had a warm bowl of soup at the end.  Your bravery and your caring will stand you in good stead in the future.  Don’t ever forget to be brave, nor to thank and reward those that help you to be brave.

Other new things for you this year include karate lessons; in six months you are already a yellow belt and nearly ready to move up again!  You’ve taken more swimming lessons, music lessons, drama classes and very importantly you have enrolled in a French Immersion school.  For the first three months your teacher, Mlle Benderoff, spoke to your class in both English and French, but after that… it’s been only French!  I cannot tell you how impressed I am that you now talk to your teacher and your friends solely in French.  When I hear you and Rosa, your lovely tutor, who I think has become quite dear to you- all those hugs and farewells, conversing so easily in French I nearly cry.

Yet again you have made so many friends.  It’s truly a talent you have to invite people into your life with such openness.  I never worry that you will be without a playmate or a companion or a friend; you are drawn to people and they are drawn to you.  Over time many more people will come into your life, some will go again and that’s ok, I hope you will treat them all with respect, honesty and compassion.  You’re the perfect ‘social butterfly’, just like the Monarchs you admire so much, your willingness to make friends and see where it takes you, could take you very far.  I hope so.  I hope you soar and fly and explore and love every day.  It takes three generations of Monarchs to complete their epic migration between Canada and Mexico.  Know always that like that forest high in the mountains in Mexico (where you made me promised we will travel to one day) your family will remain forever your sanctuary, all three generations of us, are always cheering you on and holding a sustaining home for you.

My darling daughter, I love you.

 

i’m a feminist.  most people i know are, whether they know it or not.  they are because they are decent, equality-seeking people.

feminism and being a feminist are not bad words or state of being.  i’m sick of the fucking debate around this.  perhaps it’s because most people don’t understand what feminism is.  i was going to end that sentence with “for”, “about” or something other than the bad writing ending on a preposition.  but i’ll leave it at that.  so in the interests of educating you, you the idiot who says feminism is dead or irrelevant or a swear word, i’ll tell you what feminism is.

it is the necessary struggle, fight and push to ensure all females of all ages have the same opportunities as all males of all ages.  simple, ok?

it’s not bullshit about quotas in management, it’s not equal air time for women’s sport just for the sake of it, it’s not about maternity leave…. it’s not about the million other things you may have previously been taught or thought it is.

to take the first of those three points for starters… feminism would see quotas to ensure equal representation of women in the upper rungs of companies, governments and social and cultural life as unnecessary.  because women would be fairly- note fairly; not necessarily “equal”, present in those and all other parts of life because they had the same opportunity to get/ be there as men.  that means the same opportunities and support to attend school, to have clean water, to be medically looked after, to reach out to mentors, to receive training, to access overtime, to be given the choice!  feminism fights for women to access time to get an mba to earn the right for promotions because it puts in place equality in schooling, parental leave, childcare, and all the other things that presently prevent women from choosing to pursue an mba.  it also honours the decision for women and men to choose not to pursue a career outside the home, or not within a large corporation, if that choice is available to them.  if you can’t choose between options then you have no choice.

if you can’t choose to go to school because even tho the school is there, but you’re likely to get shot on the way there, or raped on the way back, that’s no choice!  and certainly no opportunity.

people argue that feminism wants to take things away from men.  damn right it does!  it wants to take away the 30 cents in every dollar men get paid more than a woman doing the same job.  how about we split that 30 cents to 15 each?

i want to write so, so much more.  i’m a little too angry to be coherent tho.  so let me finish with reiterating that i proudly stand behind the label ‘feminist’, that i will remain there for all my life, hopefully doing as much as i can until opportunity and choice is fair regardless of your sex, even your gender.