Abby Wambach, the soccer champion and activist for pay equity and LGBTQ rights, delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2018 at Barnard’s 126th Commencement on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at Radio City Music Hall.
There were so many lessons in Wambach’s speech that we can apply to motherhood in general and breastfeeding specifically, but I want to highlight “Rule Three” because I choked up when I read it aloud at breastfeeding support group.
“Rule Three: CHAMPION EACH OTHER
Women must champion each other. This can be difficult for us. Women have been pitted against each other since the beginning of time for that one seat at the table. Scarcity has been planted inside of us and among us. This scarcity is not our fault. But it is our problem. And it is within our power to create abundance for women where scarcity used to live.
As you go out into the world: Amplify each others’ voices. Demand seats for women, people of color and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made. Call out each other’s wins and just like we do on the field: claim the success of one woman, as a collective success for all women.
Joy. Success. Power. These are not pies where a bigger slice for her means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any revolution, the way to make something true starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success, and power—together.
Wolf Pack: Her Victory is your Victory. Celebrate it.”
You’ve done it before and so have I, maybe intentionally, maybe unintentionally. You have stepped on another woman as you clawed your way up to the top. You’ve made a shitty comment that minimized her success in order to maximize your own. You’ve bragged or complained without being sensitive to others’ stories in the room.
We do it because we all seem to think that in order to have what we want, we must take something away from another woman.
But we are mothers now and we must realize that we are no longer competing against one another for a number one spot. Now, as mothers, we must only compete with ourselves to be the best mother we can be to our own children.
That is refreshing and terrifying.
Thinking that you could mother someone else’s child better than she can is irrelevant. You aren’t in the running to mother someone else’s child; you are only in the running to mother your own. So quit judging her. Maybe even shoot her a smile and let her know that you are trying really hard, too.
Making another mom feel like shit so you can feel better about yourself is an old mean girl pattern that just isn’t necessary anymore.
We can all win. We can all have it all: all the joy, success, and power of being a really good mom to our own children. Isn’t that refreshing?!
But it is also terrifying. It is terrifying because there is nobody to put down in order to raise ourselves up. Nobody has mothered this child before you. This fight is between you and you, mama.
I fear we fall back on our old mean girl ways even without another woman to squash in our quest. I fear we are just mean to ourselves.
Wambach asked us to champion one another. To see a fellow mother’s victory as our own victory, too.
But I take you a step back and ask you, “Are you championing yourself? Do you see and celebrate your own victories?”
You are the one, only, and best mother for your child. You are trying hard and you are therefore an amazing mom. Celebrate yourself.
The woman sitting next to you is the one, only, and best mother for her child. She is trying hard and she is therefore an amazing mom. Celebrate her.
Let’s watch the love grow exponentially.