Dancing with a Damsel

On Mother’s Day let us first remember those young girls wrenched away from their mothers in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world, trafficked, exploited and denied their personhood.

I was invited to a wonderful Mother’s Day event hosted by the Dancing Damsels, a woman’s organization promoting the creative arts in the Greater Toronto Area, and I read from a piece of paper when I should have spoken from my heart.

Here is what I should have said.

  • That we take for granted the fact that we live in a country where women’s self-expression is possible, even viable, judging from the 350 people gathered to attend the event at a Banquet Hall, paying the entrance fee, and the corporations sponsoring the event.
  • That MCIS has toiled hard for 25 years to do precisely this – help vulnerable women in situations of abuse to empower themselves so they can sublimate their creative talents and actively engage in civil society.

On a personal note, I should have said I am the mom of a thoughtful 28 year old and am still striving to get it right. Where have I succeeded?

Well, I wanted everything for my child so she could be an all- star. Nothing wrong with that except it was my idea of what an all- star should be. It started when she was young – this obsessive need to make her everything she could be. She went along into her teens, and then the rebellion began, culminating in a lack of trust in everything I wanted her to do. Our relationship deteriorated and, sometimes, we went for days without talking. Until I took a step back and just allowed her to reach out to me when she needed me. As time passed she engaged with me while pursuing her passions and I realized that she had found her place in the world precisely when I stopped carving out that space for her.

Interestingly enough this prepared me to face human resources challenges in my work life.  Learning from my child rearing experiences, I realized that individuals perform better if they know vision, mission, purpose and operational goals and are allowed to work creatively to achieve them, within the scope of their roles. My role, as their supervisor, was to mentor or a coach them, respectively, either guiding them with specific directives or with encouragement till they arrived at the solution themselves.

This has worked, I think.

Except, if I suggest to my daughter that I am a better mom now, than I was before, she will look at me with a quizzical expression on her face and cryptically say “you really think so, then why do you insist that I ….?” Checkmate (and a lesson in dancing with a damsel)!


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