Bijou sat on the toilet pretending she had any interest in actually going. Octave watched the sheets in the washer go round and round, and I listened a second time to a podcast where Elizabeth Gilbert interviewed Rob Bell. These are two of my favorite writers and thinkers, so when i saw they were together in a room, and there were questions and answers moving between them, I stopped everything and listened. There are so many little gems tucked between the spaces of “aha,” and “YES!” It had been a while since I had listened to something that made me feel so inspired and alive in my skin.
There was this beautiful story one them shared about a science teacher getting hired to teach at a Jewish school. the agreement was that the rabbi had to stay in the room the entire class while this teacher taught his curriculum. Not knowing anything about Judaism, he reluctantly took the job. Every time the teacher would say something contrary to the Jewish tradition, the Rabbi would start quietly making sounds in the back of the class, as if to disagree. He would then stand up and say something like, “well actually, in the Jewish tradition, we believe this…but keep teaching.” After a few weeks the science teacher came to the head of the school and expressed his frustration, saying he couldn’t teach in that kind of environment where he was constantly contradicted. The Rabbi came to him and said “you have misunderstood, i want you to teach what you know and believe, but i want to counterbalance with what I know and believe. I am not trying to challenge you, I am simply leaving room for another view. There can be room for both of us.” He wasn’t defensive or challenging him out of fear, he was simple sharing another side. Ahhhh, this. This is my heart cry.
I then realized this way of thinking and living is a core building block for how I am trying to raise my girls. I am working passionately and endlessly to teach them exactly this. I want them to know and understand that there are multiple ways to live and do things. I want to use language with them that is inclusive rather than exclusive. I want to raise them with as little cultural influence as possible. Meaning, I want them to learn what it is to be human, not American. I want them to learn to question everything. I grew up thinking that shaving my legs was a non negotiable. If I were to be a woman, (and not a weird one) I would definitely shave my legs. I do prefer my legs without hair, but that is besides the point. I came to that conclusion years later, after much reflection and undoing. It doesn’t matter if they choose to keep every hair on their body, or shave every last one, the point is, as long as they are respecting themselves and others, there is not one way to express their womanhood, and it’s theirs for the exploring and choosing. I will shamelessly teach them what I believe about God and this awe inspiring universe, but I will be careful of my language. I want them to know that this is what I believe, but some friends and family and that stranger across the street might believe something different. They won’t hear me saying those people are wrong. They know what they know, I know what I know. And there is so much I don't know. I want them to see and hear me dig and find in that sacred space. I want them to know it’s okay to have much unresolved and undefined. It doesn’t have to be scary, it can be liberating. This is only just the beginning. And I hope that they grow and challenge me past my comfort zone, because contrary to what I like to think, I do in fact have one, somewhere in there, saying yes has only just become muscle memory. I hope they show me all my blind spots and that all of this is always just one big conversation.