International Women's Day is on March 8th and I'm organizing the Get to Know Your Mother-Daughter History campaign for that day. Why? Because it's needed! Imagine what it would be like if women got together with their mother, grandmother, sister or friends and told each other the story of their lives. Imagine the stories they'd uncover. Imagine the truth they'd reveal. Imagine the history they'd learn about. And imagine the love and peace that this simple activity would generate.
I'm a mother-daughter relationship therapist and I've developed a way of mapping a woman's mother-daughter history. The mother-daughter history maps I draw with my clients show that many of our mothers and grandmothers are invisible. Our mothers and grandmothers are only known by the roles they filled as mother, wife and caregiver. And daughters rarely know what their mother and grandmother really felt, what they thought was good or hard about being a mother or wife, and what their dreams were. It's like an entire conversation was missing for our mothers and grandmothers, the conversation that sees them as women in their own right.
This is an unspeakable tragedy. It's a disaster for the mother-daughter relationship because this kind of invisibility is easily passed on from mother to daughter. It also robs women from knowing their female roots. We need to know our female roots because it teaches us about ourselves. We don't just inherit our hair color or body shape from our mothers. We also inherit what she believes is true about being female. Knowing our female roots helps us become aware of our inherited beliefs, the empowering beliefs that set us free and the disempowering beliefs that silence our voices and limit our options.
Mother-daughter history maps also expose the sexism in our families. We get to celebrate and then mourn the intelligence and creativity that was never realized in our mothers' and grandmothers' lives because in their day, women were not viewed as equal participants in society. We expose how the men treat(ed) the women in our family. We see how being loved and treated with dignity is passed on from mother to daughter because our mother and grandmother learnt to believe that they deserve to be loved, or how violence, rejection, and being silenced is normalized and passed on down the generations.
I hope many women will join the campaign -- it's completely free! All it takes is some time to have a coffee date with your mother or grandmother, or a sister-friend, if for any reason you cannot talk with your mother or grandmother. We learn a lot about ourselves from listening to our sister friends. And if your mother, grandmother or sister-friend is far away, make a coffee date over the telephone or through Skype. We can't let physical distance stop women from connecting.
To kickstart your coffee date, here are some questions for you to ask: What is good about being a woman? What is difficult? What is good about being a mother? What is difficult? What did you dream of being when you were young? What happened to that dream? How did you get your needs met? How have your needs been treated in the family? And tell me stories of how brave and strong your mother and grandmother were?
Let the conversation flow! Follow your instinct. Trust that it will guide you to what you need to learn about your mother daughter history. And after the coffee date talk about what you've discovered with other women and write about it on Facebook.
The world is a better place when women know their mother-daughter roots. When we know our female roots, women become known, loved and honored. We learn about our collective female history and women's participation can no longer be ignored or silenced. This International Women's Day I want to honor women by creating these coffee hours and changing our collective history with invisibility by giving women the healing experience of being inquired after and listened to.