Today is international women's day. And even though I have so much I want to share about our day, I'm feeling a little emotional about being here in Africa with my sister and my two daughters on this day. I think first I want to… need to!.... write about this day.
I'm going to tell you an honest truth. People see photos of my girls all the time and feel they know them. But what doesn't show in photos is the fact my girls are shy. They are awkward. They don't love big groups and don't always know what to say or do in new situations or with new people.
And so I bring them across the globe to some of the most crowded settings where every person and situation is brand new. They have spent days now meeting new faces, weaving through crowds and being thrust into situations far outside anything they know. Basically the opposite of what they typically enjoy.
Why would I do this to them?
That is this year's theme for international women's day. And it echoes what I hope to teach my girls.
Be bold. Confident. Sure of yourself. How? Know who you are and that you were made for a purpose. We often say there is nothing wrong with being shy (being rude is another story). You can be shy and bold. Bold does not equal loud. Thank goodness for that.
We try to instil in the girls the habit of asking questions like why? or so what?
They are called to be bold. So what? A bold person with no purpose is likely to get annoying. Fast. So have a reason to be bold. To be confident. And may that reason always be to inspire change for the better.
So I continue to push them. To stretch their comfort levels. Put them in new situations. Like today.
I actually forgot it was international women's day until we were riding from downtown Nairobi back to kibera slums and I heard it on the radio. I looked over at my girls at that moment. They were crammed in a taxi weaving through the most insane traffic chaos imaginable. It was beyond hot. We had been too busy today to eat lunch. When we got back to kibera with all the school supplies the rest of the group had not yet arrived. We decided to walk over to buy a drink from some women we know. As the three of us Jefferson girls walked, these two walked on ahead of me briefly. I watched as they waved at the kids coming home from school. How they knew to listen and move when a car or bus whipped through. They held their heads high and walked confidently.
For a moment I did not see my two awkward, shy daughters but two women being bold for change. And I couldn't be more proud to be their mom.
Today and everyday we celebrate being bold - knowing that each one of us is unique and important. From the awkward teen to the aging grandma. From the extreme poverty in kibera slums to the McMansions of North America. May today be the day we embrace who we are so that we can confidently offer what makes us unique to make our world a better place.