In the last ten days I’ve had two life-changing events. The first was an anti-racism training with Aimee Brill from Village Birth International. This two-day training helped the Birthing From Within leadership gain a better understanding of how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity within our organizational on a structural level. I am so excited for the future we’re creating in every facet of Birthing From Within!
In this training, Aimee talked to the three directors about personal equity. She asked us how we could create an equitable organization if we didn’t feel equity within ourselves. This question was eye-opening. If we are working ourselves to the point of exhaustion, then we are not living our values. We talked about creating more boundaries around our schedules, and letting go of the idea that everything has to be done perfectly…right now.
On the plane ride home, I cracked open the second life-changing element – the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Amelia Nagoski, DMA and Emily Nagoski, PhD. This book not only addresses the common issues that women face, but the systemic infrastructure that upholds the patriarchy, and how we can work navigate the stress that it creates. There are so many gems in that book that I could write several more blog posts on it. One of those gems was a discussion of how girls and women are conditioned to be Givers, and boys and men are conditioned to take what they want.
When I got home, I learned that my son had helped himself to the tablets that were locked away in the closet. The next day I talked to him about taking things without permission. I told him that instead of taking taking taking, I’d like for him to be more of a Giver. He disappear for a bit while I made dinner. About half an hour later he came back very excited to tell me about all the chores he had done. I mean, yeah he still wanted money for them, but baby steps, right? When his dad got home he was proud to share that he had been a Giver that day.
Fast forward several days. My house is more messy because I’m being more equitable with myself. I had a big work project to finish, and that meant that domestic duties went on the back burner for a few days. As I played with my toddler and folded laundry at the same time, my 11 year-old daughter offered to help with dinner. I talked her through all the steps to making enchiladas…including salsa from scratch. She’s amazing! I thanked her for her help, and thought about how I would make a big deal of her being a Giver at the dinner table tonight.
But then I remembered that the goal isn’t to treat everyone exactly the same…it’s to level the playing field. My job is to make sure everyone is getting what they need in a society where boys and girls are not treated equally. Therefore, my approach needs to focus on equity – responding to their needs in action in a way that is fair rather than exactly the same.
I went to my daughter’s room and found her painting. I told her that I was glad she was doing something she enjoyed, and that it’s important to make sure that when she does things for other people, she also does something for herself. Thank you, Aimee, Amelia, and Emily, and all who paved the way before them in deconstructing systems of patriarchy and white supremacy. I feel like I have a clearer map now for how to engage with the world, my children, and myself.