Starting today, the Huffington Post is joining forces with iVillage and its iVillage Cares campaign, which encourages women of all ages to look beyond our self-interests and become engaged in addressing the problems of those in need.
We're kicking off this collaboration with a new campaign celebrating the special relationship between Mothers and Daughters -- and not just biological mothers and daughters, but the special bond between women of different ages, including mentors, and aunts, and grandmothers, and godmothers, and older friends. We'll be posting their stories, reflections, blogs, letters, photos, videos, and works of art on the Huffington Post Fearless Voices section starting today and continuing through Mother's Day.
And we'd love for you to take part. All you have to do is send us your take on a special woman in your life -- older or younger. Email your "Mother-Daughter" contributions to our Fearless Voices editor Wendy Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org (and please include a picture of yourself and a short bio).
The motivation behind this campaign is our belief that there is no better gift we can give our daughters to help inoculate them from all the negative and soul-sapping messages our culture is bombarding them with than giving them something to care about besides themselves.
Imbuing our daughters with a sense of social responsibility is important not just for the obvious reason that caring for others is a good thing, but because making a difference in the world -- however tiny -- is the antidote to the pervasive narcissism of our consumption-crazed culture. Children brought up to feel that their lives have a larger purpose are more likely to keep their own troubles in perspective and less likely to fall into drugs or other self-destructive behaviors.
America is plagued with disconnections -- blacks from whites, rich from poor, and, perhaps most troubling, parents from children. One of the greatest ways to bridge these divides is by teaching children from an early age the importance of making service an integral part of their lives. It helps them to move from the fear of not being popular to the satisfaction of being useful.
As for me, I recently had a pair of unexpected Mother-Daughter interactions that added a new twist to the concept of fearlessness -- and also provided a sneak peek of what will lay ahead in my relationship with my daughters.
It started with a bang. More like a thump, actually. That was the sound of my face hitting my desk. On Friday, I had flown in from a speech in Portland at around midnight and had gotten up just after 5 a.m. to pre-tape CNN's Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz. I got back to my desk and had been working for about an hour when I began to feel cold. Next thing I knew, I was laying on the floor, bloodied. I had fainted and banged my head on the way down, ending up with a broken cheekbone and five stitches under my eyebrow. I look like Tony Soprano did after his drunken brawl with brother-in-law Bobby.
But at least the MRI showed that it wasn't anything serious -- just low blood pressure, low blood sugar, and exhaustion. Discussing with Isabella (my 15 year old) the lunch iVillage and the Huffington Post are holding in New York tomorrow for 80 women to celebrate the launch of our Mother-Daughter campaign, iVillage Cares, and the paperback of On Becoming Fearless, I asked her if she thought I should wear really dark sunglasses at the event.
"No, absolutely not," Isabella said. "You should use it as an example of not being afraid to appear in public looking crummy. Chapter One, Mom."
My older daughter Christina had already given me a lesson in the ever-shifting dynamic of our mother-daughter relationship. Right after my accident, she took charge. Gone was the uncertain teenager who I had just accompanied on a tour of colleges, replaced by a passionate advocate for my care. Shirley MacLaine looking after Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment had nothing on Christina. And when the doctor was stitching my eye, Christina was right there, holding my hand, telling me, "Mommy, you can squeeze as hard as you like." The very same words I had said to her so many times over the years when she was getting a shot or having blood drawn.
The kind of caring that we expect to find in our families is what our campaign wants to extend to the world around us, expanding that sense of connectedness -- of belonging to a tribe, a village -- and rekindling our sense of community. By planting these seeds early on, we'll help our daughters make changing the world at least one item on their to-do list as they grow into fearless women.