Today is a microcosm of something I have felt about October in general.
Today is the first ever International Day of the Girl, but it's also National Coming Out Day. With respect for the validity of recognizing both issues, what am I supposed to put on my blog or my facebook page anyway?
(I might abstain, except I actually care about this stuff, about the courage of the people involved, so I want to participate...)
October is breast cancer awareness month. I have family members and friends who have fought breast cancer. October is pregnancy loss and infant loss awareness month; oh boy do I have feelings about that. October is also SIDS awareness month, autism awareness month, domestic violence awareness month, bullying prevention awareness month, fair trade month, German-American heritage month, national popcorn month and national pizza month. (really!) And those are just the ones I care about.
In addition, there are weeks or days in October designated for focusing on children's books, non-violence, teachers, Leif Erikson, appreciating children, appreciating dead ancestors and friends, the purchase of Alaska by the United States from Russia, and crunchy leaves. (OK, I made up the last one, but it should be real!)
Admittedly, there are awareness months and days all year long. Probably every month is full of something. But October has a disproportionate number of things that I care about. In addition, there is an intense cultural focus on one of those things: Breast cancer. (I'm going to go ahead and guess that this is because our hyper sexualized culture likes any excuse to fixate on breasts, because in spite of the uber-pinkness of a decade of Octobers, we still are not any closer to decent treatments--let alone cures or prevention--of breast cancer.) More women miscarry than get breast cancer, and that's a fact. But breasts are cool and dead babies make people uncomfortable. And battered wives, teenage girls getting shot by the taliban, nine year old brides, slave labor and gay people make people really uncomfortable. So we'll stick with breasts. And maybe the occasional feel-good story about a girl (right here in Kotzebue) who started a movement to stop wearing makeup on mondays.
So let me see, what shall I do this month to try to be more balanced?
I'll read books to my kids.
I'll join the wave of light next monday and light a candle from 7-8 to remember my angel babies (maybe I'll light 4).
I'll hug somebody who is out of the closet.
I'll read and share stories about brave women and girls all over the world who are fighting injustice, speaking up against violence, and holding up half the sky.
I will donate to causes that are helping to educate and uplift those girls and women.
I will snuggle my kids.
I will make pizza and popcorn (and pie, for good measure).
We'll talk about our ancestors and tell stories from their lives.
And if we had any crunchy leaves here, I would stomp on them. But we don't. Before the end of the month though, I'm pretty sure I will have a chance to stomp on crunchy snow, so maybe it's ok.