Back to school: Teach your kids healthy risk-taking instead of self-sabotage

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. — Marianne Williamson

When I was in my twenties and first saw the words above, they were misattributed to Nelson Mandela. I’m grateful for the mistake because at that time, I don’t think I would’ve have listened to a middle-aged white woman spiritualist. Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, was a hero so I got teary eyed. I felt the truth of what “he” said, maybe for the first time in my life.

Today was the first day back at school for my kids, and last night our house full of the annual excitement and anxiety. Along with my kids’s emotions, my husband and I were dealing with The Schedule, which, like for all parents I think, is a source of unending, brutal calculation and miscalculation.

So here’s how a typical conversation went  about setting up the schedule with one of my daughters who loves art.

Me: Would you like to take an art class?

Daughter: I suck at art.

Stab in my heart Me: No, you don’t!

Daughter: I want to be good but I suck.

More stabbing Me: Why do you say that?

Daughter: I’m bad at art!

I really fucked up.  How did I fuck up so badly? My10 year old daughter is convinced she’s bad at art. Something as subjective, as dynamic, as unfixed as art. All art? How can this be? How can she love it and think she’s bad at it? And then I looked at her, and I saw fear in her face. I remembered Williamson. I thought she’s afraid to take a risk. What is making art about if not risk?

Me: Why don’t you try the class and see if you like it?

Daughter: I told you, I’m bad at art.

Me: Can I tell you something it took years for me to learn?” I said. “It may not be true for you, but it was true for me.”

Daughter: Okay.

Me: Saying or just thinking I was bad at something was a really safe place to be. When I put myself down, there was nowhere to fall. But if ever I was feeling good about myself, someone could always come along and knock me down.

She nodded.

Me: Here’s what I know now. Putting yourself down isn’t cool or modest, it comes out of fear, because you’re scared. And I totally get being scared. But trying something new is a much more helpful way to deal with fear. Maybe you won’t like this art class, but you could meet a kid in the class who will become your best friend, or maybe you’ll discover you like horses from drawing horses. Maybe you’ll find out you love pastels and not water color.  You don’t know what will happen, but anything could and that makes scary but exciting.

She was looking at me, not talking.

Me: When you try something new, there will times when you’re going to fail. Guaranteed.  hundreds, thousands of times, and that’s a great sign. Failure means you’re learning. If you’re not messing up, you’re not learning anything.

She told me she wanted to try the class. I hope she got the message I was trying to convey. When adults think about taking risk, we often think of dramatic behavior: climb Mount Everest, fly a plane across the Atlantic, but for a kid, a huge risk can be trying a new food or saying hi to a classmate. The truth is adults feel the same way about risk, because when it comes down to it, risks are emotional. I hope to teach my kids to risk experiencing the full range of their emotions, to understand humans are verbs, dynamic and ever-changing instead of pigeon holed, stagnate, and “safe.”

Please feel free to add any personal stories in the comment section about your family stays emotional healthy. I always want to learn more.

 

 

 

While I was blogging…

This happened downstairs.

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Aragog’s web, strung across my living room. In case you didn’t know, he’s a giant spider (Harry Potter, Book 2, Chamber of Secrets.)

You may be wondering if I affirmed my daughters’s creativity (all 3 made this) or tore out my hair. I took the picture, crept upstairs, and shut my office door. Soon, their dad will be home.

Lucky Charms, they’re magically sexist!

Today, we had Lucky Charms for breakfast. Not the healthiest choice, I know, but that’s how it went down. My six year old daughter counted 8 different charms on the back of the box, each with a portrait and storyline. Out of those, just 2 are female. I’m not even talking about Lucky, the  leprechaun, I’m talking about the charms.

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My daughter read the box to me:

Hourglass is a smarty pants scientist whose inventions don’t always turn out the way he planned. He’s bringing his toolbox to the party.

In the photo above, you can see Hourglass on the left with the hat, a lock of brown hair, and a mustache.

That one she’s pointing to is Shooting Star

a seriously silly dude. He’s bringing juggling balls to the party…even though he doesn’t know how to juggle.

Guess what one of two girls (or as I call them Minority Feisty) is named? Rainbow. She is…

“the most magical charm of all. She wants to add some sparkle to the party with a disco ball.”

Good to know  her interior decorating skills are strong. What’s a girl who doesn’t want to add sparkle to her shoes, her dress, her soccer ball? Is she a girl at all?

My husband jokes that cereal boxes are like morning newspapers for kids. My three daughters fight about who gets to put the box in front of their bowl. Those boxes are seriously valuable real estate in kidworld and yet, there is a not a single female mascot on a children’s cereal box. Not a single one. I’ve written about this blatant sexism on Reel Girl for years but it was only when Raj from the hit show “The Big Bang Theory” made the same observation, that the issue got some traction. Things are going to change now, I thought. Raj has taken this issue on.

I was wrong. That episode aired three years ago. More stories keep coming and almost all of them are about males.

Reel Girls posts about sexism and children’s food packaging, girls get stereotyped or go missing:

Play ‘Find the Girls on the Cereal Box’ featuring…Captain Crunch!

New game to play with kids: Find the Girls on the Cereal Box!

M &Ms, Goldfish, cereal boxes, and the Minority Feisty

Raj’s list of all male cereal box characters from ‘Big Bang Theory’

“Big Bang Theory” mentions gender bias in kids’ cereal packaging

30 Greatest kids cereals of all time, 100% male characters

Today’s breakfast cereal shows female on the box, guess what she’s proud of?

Pepperidge Farm introduces Princess Goldfish, gendering kids’ food reaches new low

Good job on race, Cheerios, but what’s with the gender stereotypes?

Cheerios box shows kids girls gone missing

Buying my first box of Wheaties…

Why is Dora sunbathing in the freezer aisle?

New M & Ms package shows female getting stalked

Look what Ms. Green has to say on M & Ms’ Facebook page today

Why isn’t Pebbles on the Cocoa Pebbles?

Hey Goldfish Snack Crackers, girls aren’t a minority

How about some images of boys with your Reese’s Puffs?

St. George’s alumna creates fund for survivors sexually assaulted at school

Faulkner Fox, who graduated from St. George’s in 1981 and was a prefect at the school, has set up the SGS Alumni Therapy Fund to help survivors who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s and in need of therapy.

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When I asked her why she wanted to create the fund, she told me:

I was so concerned when I heard that alumni were in distress, some suicidal, after reading THE BOSTON GLOBE article. Not everyone has a therapist or a strong support network of friends and family.  It is unconscionable that St. George’s School has not set up immediate counseling and referral services.  I wanted to help support the vital 24/7 therapy service put in place by Anne Scott’s lawyers.

Here’s the text from SGS Alumni Therapy Fund page on generosity.com.

Dozens of alumni from St. George’s School were sexually abused while they were students at the school.  More victims have been coming forward since the BOSTON GLOBE ran a front page story, “A Prep School’s Dark Legacy,” on 12/15/15.  Some are very distressed, even suicidal, and they need to speak to a therapist immediately.  St. George’s School has not yet made such a service available.  We, concerned St. George’s alumni and supporters, are raising money to pay for psychologist, Dr. Paul Zeizel, a well-known clinician and trauma expert who treated many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, to counsel St. George’s alumni who are in crisis.

 

Dr. Zeizel is available seven days a week to provide crisis assistance and local referrals to  people who were sexually assaulted at St. George’s.  Consultations are free to alumni and completely confidential.  Dr. Zeizel’s phone number is:  857 472 2704.  His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net.

 

If we raise enough money, Dr. Zeizel will also process requests for reimbursement for therapy that relates to past sexual abuse at St. George’s School.  He will maintain absolute confidentiality, yet his clients will be free to speak to anyone they choose about their abuse and who is paying for their therapy.

You can make credit card donation on the fund’s page.

If you want to make a donation by check, you can go to any Wells Fargo branch and ask to make a donation to the “SGS Alumni Therapy Fund.”

If you want to mail a check for Faulkner to deposit or if you have any questions about the fund, you can contact her at dfofaulkner@gmail.com

If you don’t know anything about the sexual assaults at St. George’s or want to learn more, you can look at previous blogs below.

Thank you for your support.

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Lawyer investigating St. George’s sexual assaults is partner of school’s legal counsel

Prep school alumni respond to St. Paul’s rape trial verdict

Comments on petition asking St. George’s for fair investigation into assaults make me cry

I’m so grateful for the bravery I see while reading through the comment section of the petition created by alumni of St George’s asking for a fair investigation into the sexual assaults at the school.

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I’m reposting some comments here:

I’ve seen first hand efforts by the current SGS administration to silence, intimidate, threaten lawsuits and even arrest of those who’ve reported abuse or stand up for victims. Dara Brewster Little Compton, RI

I witnessed this and did nothing Max Cottrell, Fairfield, CT

In support of friends who have bravely struggled for a long, long time  Willard Sistare Simsbury, CT

St. George’s School continues to flub investigation into sexual assaults

Last Monday, the Boston Globe published a front page article about sexual abuse and cover ups at St. George’s School, an elite private school that I attended.

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When Anne Scott initially brought a suit against the school about her molestation by athletic trainer, Al Gibbs, lawyers representing St.George’s claimed she “has a tendency to lie.” They also said that if the 15 year old had sex with the 67 year old, it was consensual. Let me remind you, lawyers representing a school seemed to have no concept of statutory rape. St. George’s also sought to change the case from a “Jane Doe” to use Scott’s real name. Intimidated, Scott dropped her case. Years later, still suffering from the abuse at St. George’s, Scott demanded the school contact alumni about abuse that may have happened. Scott was certain there were other victims. She wanted the school to be accountable and to reach out to others who may  need help. St. George’s started an investigation and sent out letters. According to the school, “tens of women” have responded that they are survivors of abuse. But one of the problems with the investigation is that more victims have said they are not comfortable talking about their experiences to Will Hannum, the lead investigator hired by St. George’s. Hannum is not only a lawyer but a partner of the counsel for St. George’s, not the ideal person to speak with about these experiences. I have been contacted by women who feel this way.

In August, after news about the St. Paul’s rape, another boarding school, the night of “senior salute” I blogged about “Casino Night” a sexist “tradition” when I went to St. George’s. On “Casino Night” all the new girls were supposed to dress up as playboy-like bunnies and sell candy to the older boys who gambled. After that blog (which I learned roughly coincided with St. George’s letter about its investigation) I was contacted by a former student from St. George’s who was sexually assaulted at the school around that time. She was scared to talk to Hannum because she was concerned his goal might be to gather information to protect the school from a lawsuit. Since my blogs, I’ve been contacted by others, first and second hand, about sexual assaults at the school who didn’t know where to turn. Apparently, I’m not the only one who has been approached.

Here are more facts since the Globe article came out about how St. George’s continues to fail it’s alumni from the counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70)

 

  • Since the December 15, 2015 article in the Boston Globe we have received reports from eleven additional alumnae who were sexually molested and assaulted by former SGS athletic trainer Al Gibbs. We also have other calls to return so that figure will rise tomorrow
  • Virtually all of the alumnae are or have suffered psychological injury as a result of their abuse by Gibbs and some are currently in states of crisis. Two have reported suicidal ideation. We are referring alumnae to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (which has agreed to handle calls from outside Massachusetts). We are searching immediately for a clinician to provide crisis services for these individuals and to make referrals. We have asked SGS to retain such a clinician but SGS has not responded
  • Based on Mr. Zane’s notes of four Gibbs victims in the Scott case and the three clients who we represent, the number of Gibbs alumnae victims that we are aware of currently total eighteen
  • SGS has still refused to disclose the number of victims who have come forward to the School alleging sexual assault by Gibbs. This number is likely much higher than the eighteen alumnae victims that we are aware of
  • Headmaster Peterson stated in his letter of November 2, 2015 to alumni that the “majority” of the abuse reports center around three individuals and that most of the reports fall in the 1970’s and 1980’s. We have received reports of abuse from alumni over the past four days, including reports from two former Trustees, regarding five SGS former employees; one report was as recent as 2004
  • SGS has shown a pattern of conduct since 1979 of coercing alumnae who were abused by Gibbs into silence. A student who alleged she was abused in 1979 was told that she was mentally ill and was required to see the School’s consulting psychologist. More recent tactics under current school leadership include requiring a victim seeking mental health care because of Gibbs’ abuse to sign an agreement prohibiting the victim from speaking of about the abuse publicly and, further, that she not “disparage” the School
  • SGS employees violated the Rhode Island Mandatory Abuse reporting law on Gibbs sexual molestation thereby subjecting other children to risks of abuse as Gibbs was alive for fifteen years after he left SGS. We have also received credible reports that SGS violated the same law in 1988, at which time the alleged perpetrator left SGS and went on to teach at another prep school for 11 years
  • Many alumni who came forward to report abuse to the “independent” investigator which Headmaster Peterson referred to in his April 7th letter to alumni were not told by the investigator that he was a partner in a law firm that was actually representing SGS
  • The School’s victim assistance package continues to contain a confidentiality clause which prevents alumni from disclosing that SGS is paying for assistance. At the same time, the agreement contains no provision that requires SGS to keep a victim’s name and assistance package confidential

 

  • SGS alumni have started an online public petition requesting that the School take immediate measures to conduct an independent investigation and provide for an alumni mental health assistance program that is consistent with what other independent school programs have done in similar situations. The petition can be found here

Over the past four days, we have received reports that Headmaster Peterson has been aware of Gibbs’ abuse of SGS students for many years; it was only after he was approached by Anne Scott in February of 2015 that the School sent out its first alumni letter. Mr. MacLeish contacted Mr. Peterson urging him to send out an alumni letter on Gibbs in 2012

From Counsel for Anne Scott (’80), Joan (Bege) Reynolds (’79) and Katie Wales (’80): Eric MacLeish (SGS ’70) and Carmen Durso.

Contact information:  

Anne Scott 443-282-4487, annewmscott@gmail.com;

Eric MacLeish, 617-494-1920, rmacleish@chelaw.com;

Carmen Durso, 617-728-9123, carmen@dursolaw.com

If you care about helping survivors of sexual assault and protecting all kids from having this happen to them, please sign this petition 

 UPDATE: Eric MacLeish contacted me with this info: we retained a clinician, Dr. Paul Zeizel, who is available 7 days a week for SGS victims. He can provide crisis counseling for SGS alums that is confidential. His mobile phone is 857 472 2704. His email is paulzeizel@comcast.net

 

‘We are all more free’

Living in San Francisco and witnessing gay people fight for a right I’d always taken for granted made me rethink everything I’d ever assumed about marriage. For the first time in my life, I started to believe that maybe marriage didn’t have to be a sexist, antiquated institution.

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In 2000, Prop 22 was on the ballot in San Francisco, and I watched my first reality TV show ‘Who Wants to Marry a Mutlimillionaire.’ I wrote about America’s hypocrisy regarding marriage for the San Francisco Chronicle. Not long after my op-ed, I met the man who would become my husband. I fall more in love with him every day.

Thank you to the gay community for vivifying marriage for us all, and thank you to Barack Obama for being the first U.S. president to have the courage to support marriage equality, it’s his quote in the title of this post.

Here’s the post I wrote in 2000:

Recognizing the sanctity – and a travesty – of marriage

Published 4:00 am, Tuesday, February 22, 2000

I DIDN’T think TV could shock me anymore. But then, during sweeps week last week, I watched Fox’s new hit, “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” and realized modern television had sunk to a new low.

The show began with the introduction of 50 women, all competing for the grand prize of marriage to a multimillionaire, their union to be sealed with a $34,000 engagement ring.

The women stepped into the klieg lights wearing everything from bathing suits to wedding gowns, exposing their bodies to be rated and judged. Meanwhile, Mr. Multimillionaire was safely shrouded in a darkened booth. The whole scene brought to mind the voyeuristic ambiance of a peep show.

During one of the show’s worst sequences, each finalist had 30 seconds to convince Mr. Multimillionaire that she was the one he should choose. While guitar porn rock played in the background, the women said things like, “I know just how to please a man.”

At the end of the show, Mr. Multimillionaire finally appeared in a tux and chose his bride, the blondest and thinnest of them all.

I was stunned by this degradation and mockery of the marriage ceremony. How can there be any presumption of honesty or integrity in marriage vows when the groom takes them – as Mr. Multimillionaire did – just moments after meeting his wife to be, promising to love her until death?

Are those elements that I thought were key to marriage – vows and love and commitment – without real meaning?

A wedding ceremony should be a sacred celebration, inspired by devotion so powerful that those in love want to make a lifelong commitment to each other publicly.

Yet on the Fox Network, marriage became a modern-day flesh auction with women transformed into a commodity to be purchased by a wealthy man.

I’m not completely naive. I know that marriage was initially created as a financial contract. I know that in Biblical times the purpose of marriage was to control the means of reproduction – that is, women.

I know that when women had no social, political or financial power, when they were not allowed to own property and were only valued for how many children they could bear, marriage existed just to ritualize the transfer of ownership of women from fathers to husbands.

I know that remnants of these ancient roles of womanhood are still prevalent in marriage ceremonies, but I had thought they no longer had significance.

Though brides still traditionally wear white, the color has lost its relevance as a symbol of virginal innocence, once so prized in a woman. Few recall now, when the priest asks if anyone has just cause why the marriage should not take place, that the question was originally meant to determine if anyone had evidence that the bride was, in fact, not a virgin.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the debut of Fox’s top-rated show. After watching these women on TV, whose worth was measured by how well they conformed to limited ideals of beauty, while male worth was measured by wallet size, I was feeling pretty cynical about gender roles and matrimony.

Then something happened to restore my faith. The debate on Proposition 22, the ballot initiative on gay marriage, caught my attention.

As supporters of the initiative condemned gay marriage for defiling a holy institution, I thought of the irony. An elegantly packaged prostitution ring on prime time television is perfectly legal, yet two people in love who want to make a public and legal, lifetime commitment to each other, with sincere vows, are forbidden legal recognition of their marriage because they are of the same sex.

While “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” illustrates the worst of marriage, defeating Prop. 22 would bring out the best of it. Allowing gay people to marry shatters all of the antiquated sex stereotypes that still threaten to be resurrected in popular culture.

If marriage is to survive and thrive in this millennium, it needs to evolve. The marriage contract is a living document. We need to keep the best of it – the love, the romance, the vows – and leave behind those elements that reduce human beings to property.

If Californians really are concerned with family values, they should be fighting for the right of people who truly love each other to legalize their commitment.

Tucker Carlson, Jerry Garcia, and me

After I was on Fox News Saturday morning to discuss Amazon dropping its girl/ boy filters for toys and games many of you asked me about Tucker Carlson’s intro of me as his high school classmate. (I can’t figure out how to embed the video here, so if you’re more tech saavy than me, please post the link.)

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Yes, it’s true! Tucker and I went the same boarding school, though I was expelled sophomore year. Tucker went on to marry the headmaster’s daughter in the school chapel. That pretty much epitomizes our differing experiences in prepland, his successful, mine not so much.

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Here’s a blurry pic from the 80’s of us at a Grateful Dead concert. I’m in the front and Tucker is to the left wearing glasses. Jerry Garcia, looking rather skinny and two dimensional, is a cardboard cut out. Looking back on high school, I don’t know if Tucker was better behaved than me –I was suspended for smoking a cigarette in the dorm and then kicked out the following year for drinking or if he– like a lot of the kids who made it through boarding school– was just more skilled at giving the appearance of following all those seemingly endless rules.

If you watch the video, you can see I vehemently disagree with Tucker on Amazon’s decision– and most issues along with probably all of the other hosts on Fox News. Still, at least the network had me on to speak. I got a national platform to address about an issue I care about which is more than CNN or MSNBC has offered me recently.

I’ll leave one with one more nugget of prep school trivia. Julie Bowen, then known as Julie Luetkemeyer, the actress from “Modern Family” (and from kidworld “Planes: Fire and Rescue”) was in our class as well. As brilliant and beautiful then as now, she was probably the smartest kid in our class.

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Finally, I didn’t get a chance to mention it in the 3.5 minutes I was on TV, but Amazon didn’t fully drop its filters. Read the details in my update here.

 

 

 

Put on your oxygen mask first, then help your child

After my post Dear Pope, having kids can be selfish too I got several comments about how parents need to put children first. I disagree. I believe that it’s crucial for a parent to take care of her own needs including stuff like eating when you’re hungry, sleeping when you’re tired, and taking a break from your kids when you need it. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, but the idea of taking care of yourself first is a useful notion to keep in your head, something to strive for. Meeting your own needs directly instead of meeting them through your kids (or food, alcohol, and various other addictions) is better for everybody. Rather than being something to feel guilty or ashamed about, taking care of yourself is healthy.

At first, it can be kind of scary, admitting you need to take care of yourself. When I was in my twenties, I smoked a pack of Marlboros a day, and one of the hardest things about quitting was that I valued that five minutes, the break I used to take to smoke. It was easier to say, “I need a cigarette” than “I need 5 minutes of solitude.”

Sometimes, taking care of me just has to do with the narrative I tell myself. For example, if my kids want to go the park and I don’t, I’ll try to think of a way to make it appealing to me. “I’ll sit in the sun,” or “I’ll chase them and get some exercise.” If they want to see a movie, I think “I can blog about it.”

The idea of taking care of myself also helps me try to keep my kids healthy, driving them to various activities or staying calm when they have tantrums. The narrative I tell myself is something like, “I need to help my kids experience their emotions, because in the long run, that’s better for me. They’re less likely to have problems as they grow which would be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive for me to deal with. It’s better for me to try my best to keep my kids healthy.” It’s kind of a mind trick, but it works for me. Taking care of my marriage, spending time with my husband, is good for my kids because it’s easier for happy parents to help create happy kids.

Another example: I get up at 5AM so I can drink coffee, meditate, and write before my kids get up. If we all rise at the same time, I feel angry and impatient. I need to take care of my needs first in the morning. I don’t drink alcohol because that affects my sleeping, and when I don’t sleep well, I tend to yell at my kids. When I do feel angry at my children, I often try to separate myself, take a break to let the feeling pass through me, rather than shout at them. I always think of that phrase they tell you on airplanes, to put on your oxygen mask first, and then help your child. I believe that humans need a huge amount of self care, and it’s better, at least for me, to admit that and deal with it, rather than use my kids to take care of me. I don’t know if that makes sense to you, but it’s been helpful so far.

Dear Pope, having kids can be selfish too

Dear Pope Francis,

Today, you told the world that “the choice not to have children is selfish” referring to a “greedy generation” who is not reproducing enough. Since you don’t have any kids yourself, and I’m the mother of three, I thought it might be helpful to hear about my experience. Becoming a parent is probably the most selfish thing I ever did, and I’m far from unique.

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Before I had children, like lots of people, I was busy contributing to society. I created a non-profit organization to foster and train ethical women leaders, produced top-rated talk radio programs, and wrote about politics and culture for newspapers, magazines, and the internet. I also spoke on radio and TV programs about these issues. At that time, I dated, but had no interest in having children or getting married ever. But when I was 32, I fell in love. I was so into this guy that I started to wonder what it would be like to create another human with him. The idea that you could make a baby with someone you love seemed  crazy magical to me, so beautiful, like a miracle. I decided I wanted to have that experience. He felt the same way.

He wanted to get married, and I didn’t. For most of my life, I thought marriage was oppressive to women, taking his name, wearing virginal white, being given away by your father to another man etc. If you’re committed, you don’t need a piece of paper. But something happened to change my mind. I I live in San Francisco, and gay people were organizing and fighting hard for the right to get married. Witnessing people advocate for something I’d always taken for granted forced me to rethink the institution. I realized that since Biblical times (and even earlier) when women were property traded by men, marriage has been evolving and will continue to. Being a part of that movement felt inspiring, so we got married.

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Over the next six years, we had two more kids, mostly because making babies and raising humans is as selfishly magical as I expected. It’s really fun creating little people and watching them grow. I love my children and my husband deeply, but in no way were the choices I made generous to society. I mean, you’re reproducing yourself. And after having kids, in some ways, I struggle to keep my world from getting smaller and myopic. I long for more time to write, create, and contribute to the world at the rate that I used to.

Women are the world’s biggest untapped resource. The status and education of women is directly linked to how many babies they have. The more children they have, the poorer women are.  We all lose out. Deciding to have kids or not is a personal choice, but I have a lot of admiration for people who don’t. People like you, Pope Francis, who dedicate their lives to pursuing what they believe in to make the world a better place. Don’t you think women deserve to make that choice too?

Sincerely,

Margot Magowan

Margot Magowan is a writer and commentator. Her articles on politics and culture have been in Salon, Glamour, the San Jose Mercury News, and numerous other newspapers and online sites. She has appeared on “Good Morning America,” CNN, Fox News, and other TV and radio programs. For  many years, Margot worked as talk radio producer creating top-rated programs. In 1998, Margot co-founded the Woodhull Institute an organization that trains young women to be leaders and change agents. Margot’s short story “Light Me Up” is featured in the anthology Sugar In My Bowl (Ecco 2011) and she is currently writing a Middle Grade novel about the fairy world. Margot lives with her husband and their three daughters in San Francisco.