While raising two children over the course of thirty-one years, my mother pursued her passion for music, steeping my sister and me in this love so thoroughly, I suspect, as to have altered our DNA. Though Molly and I are not professional musicians, we cannot escape the temptations of an unoccupied piano or a fellow music-playing friend. We are so enriched because our mother pursued what moves her and shared it intimately with us.
Like the nocturnes she plays so beautifully, my mother is a study in gentleness and strength. I have learned that an exquisite sensitivity to the world--to others' pain and joy, and to our own--demands high mettle. A lifetime of feeling deeply and honestly has not calloused my mother; she is impossibly kind, sensitive, and animated. Beneath her disposition lies a deep well of steel; knowing that I must have one as well makes me brave.
My father videotaped my second-grade presidential campaign speech--an early prototype for Hillary Clinton's run--and told bedtime stories about fearless, resourceful girls. Girls who routinely slipped the confines of their homes seeking adventure: an unsupervised foray to the city zoo; a collaboration with an airplane pilot to bring food and supplies to a landlocked community; the creation of a homemade ice rink as a cure for boredom. These girls took up permanent residence in my imagination, becoming archetypes for the stories I write, tell, and live.
My sister taught me at the tender age of eight that "there is no such thing as 'girl push-ups,'" and through example, that there is nothing girls can't do: travel the world, helm a major publication, speak truth to power in the pages of a national newspaper, expand educational opportunities for kids, and (why not?) run an extra 2.5 miles at the San Diego marathon. My superhero then and now, Molly continues to cut her own course and kill at it.
Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Molly, asserting my rights has never been a radical political act, but an unremarkable matter of course. I honor all of them in this march: though it may be radical in scope, it is hardly remarkable for women to flex their collective muscle. Especially if they have been doing real push-ups.