It’s about time! I am so excited that companies like Disney (Maleficent) and Pantene are changing the face and roles that women have socially and without an apology. Recently, my daughter was handed a music box (ironically by the other woman) that had a prince and a princess on the cover, on the verge of a kiss (yes, it was a Disney music box). Did I mention my daughter is 6? Why is this important and why would another woman or a company like Disney want a little girl to grow up with this false sense of reality? Worse, how do we as parents sit back and not say ENOUGH? Haven’t enough of us (men and women) suffered from the false promises of being rescued from ourselves? Really? Look, I am guilty too for believeing in the knights, the princesses and the alure of being rescued and frankly by the Disney model but that’s not how I want to raise my kids. The position I took when my daughter came home with the gift apparently came off as controversial eventhough it seems so straight forward and clear to me. I don’t want my daughter to give up her life, who she is, what makes her unique, or her position simply because she thinks a prince is standing in front of her promising all those things a knight in shinning armor promises. The idea of anyone needing rescuing is a disservice to my little girl (and my son) who at 6 is now forming her ideas and beliefs about life. Worse, why would anyone want a 6 year old to begin creating images of a relationship with anyone beyond the parameters of friends and family, especially when the concept of family is a moving target for kids of divorce? Learning about friendship far out values the social push to be in a “relationship.” And, at 6 I would hope that she is learning all of the valuable skills of friendship.
Luckily, I am not a single mom on a solo journey. Mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and friends have been speaking up long enough that companies are finally taking notice. A shout out to Pantene (The Dove campaign for real beauty deserves a mention as well as others) for changing how society looks at gender roles. I appreciate Pantene for actually having the guts to talk about the pervasive use of the word sorry that is uttered by women everywhere all the time. The commercial (click or paste link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/18/pantene-not-sorry-shine-strong_n_5507461.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046) is a sign of the growing trend changing the themes that women have upheld for far too long. Pantene’s campaign #ShineStrong “Not Sorry” is a great example how we as women often take the preemptive approach by saying “sorry” even when the reality is that other words would better replace that term. As I look back at the divorce process I recall that after three months of silence form my X, I sent him an email apologizing. Since I had no idea what was happening, since he refused to speak to me and without knowing the significance of his affair, I simply apologized for all those things that made me “me” and I was sorry for that. I had no clarity at that point but my need to ease his pain over mine drew to the words “sorry”. I look back now realizing that at the time I had nothing to be sorry for. I was left with the kids, the house and the dog without even an explanation or direction and yet here I was apologizing. I tried over that first year to reach out, ask questions but everything was “I don’t know.” My friends and family warned me about reaching out to someone capable of leaving his family from one day to another but I kept thinking of our history and the family we had created and so I tried. I tried for all the wrong reasons and with no armor but at least I tried.
The following months, years, I had to learn to forgive myself for wanting his forgiveness and for asking for his humanity. It has been a process to understand that giving that respect, forgiveness and humanity to myself first is imperative if I hope to change the the way in which my children see the world. For now, I am grateful for the changing perspective and hope that when my son and daughter are ready to face the world as adults they understand their obligation to community, their families and humanity. I hope they know themselves enough (essentially flawed and all) to never have to lie their way through life or any relationship.