Updated: Jul 3, 2019
When my kids were toddlers, my husband and I engaged in a conversation about what our life slogan would be, like, if we were going to order ourselves a custom t-shirt. Jeff decided his was "Livin' Life," which at the time was his answer to a question I often asked him as when he was up to some kind of strange shenanigan in his workshop, or cooking something strange for himself in the kitchen. After much discussion, he decided mine should say:
I felt very validated. As a young mom, meeting needs is mainly what I did. Others' needs: for clean floors, clean diapers, clean sheets; for food, water, milk, breast milk; for knowledge, wisdom and safety; and for entertainment. And, above all, for comfort. As psychologists Milan and Kay Yerkoich outline in their excellent book on relationships and attachment theory How We Love, giving our children consistent comfort and secure attachment is one of the greatest determinants to their future emotional health. It's serious stuff meeting children's emotional needs.
And then also, as a mom, I had to take some names: dole out discipline, set boundaries and generally show those tiny humans who was boss. Because that's the other things kids need for secure attachment: the sense that the authority figures above them are competent and consistent.
For those of you not up on the hip lingo (please don't tell my 14 year old I said hip), urbandictionary.com usually pairs "taking names" with "kicking a--" and defines the two phrases together as this:
The act of being unequivocally awesome. It generally involves showing people what's up, making people feel like morons for being wrong, and defeating terrorists. It is indeed an action worthy of the highest honor.
I love this definition (except for the morons part). Today is International Woman's Day and I would like to share my T-shirt motto with all my sisters.
What a year this has been for women in America. We saw the first woman run for president (you may not like her one bit, but it's still a victory for equality that she made it so far). We saw thousands of women come forward in the #metoo movement, offering community and strength to one another, and our whole national dialogue took a shift. Then the Times Up Movement gave this dialogue teeth, setting up a legal defense fund for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and demanding equal wages for equal work for women.
So socially on a large scale, women are taking names, standing up against anyone who would abuse power against them, their sisters, their daughters, nieces, friends and granddaughters. It makes me proud to be a woman, and it inspires me as the mother of two women-in-training.
I love men-- my husband, brothers, brothers in Recovery ministry, father, and father in law in particular. But I'm so proud to be an intentionally-minded woman. Because women embody (literally, in our bodies, and also in our actions) the softness and generosity that offers comfort to those we love. Even in this, the mothers I know are taking names: loving and comforting with grit and courage when they are dog tired and maybe not receiving comfort from anyone else. And women are tough: powering through bodily issues that are uniquely feminine, tough in determination to learn and do better than the generations before them, bold in their dreams for themselves, their children and their culture.
My favorite man was Jesus: who gave women honor and status in a culture that devalued them so much more than ours does. I hear his voice over us saying "take heart." In his name, I meet needs, I take names. I pray to be the mom my daughters deserve.
One last word: Hubby, thanks for seeing me, honoring me, and writing my slogan. But I never got my t-shirt. Mother's Day is two months away. You might want to get ordering.