My wish for you, my sweet girl, on International Women’s Day


Dearest MacKenzie,

I have a secret that I rarely share. When you were in my belly, I wished with all my might that you’d be a girl. I realize that’s not the right thing to do. Your daddy and I worked hard to conceive and I knew in my brain that the right thing was to only consider your health and not your gender. I couldn’t do it. The day we found out you were a girl, my dreams for you grew exponentially.

The truth is, I love human beings. Gender has no bearing on the depth of my passion for the incredible people who make this world so complex, interesting and challenging. But, I also have a special place in my heart for the women who have stood next to me, pushed behind me, pulled me forward kicking and screaming and whispered support.

Your mother hasn’t always chosen an easy path. I fell in love with credit unions and the difference they could make, the potential to change lives. Each day I push hard. I challenge myself and the people around me to create the positive impact we know can be possible through cooperative finance. That’s meant many days away from you. It’s meant late nights without you. It’s meant focus on my laptop instead of an art project or two. The sacrifices I’ve chosen have been just that. They’ve been my choice.

Today, I want you to know that my choices are also about you. With all my imperfections, I hope that in my journey, you see the endless possibilities in your future. I share my struggles and failings knowing you’ll learn. I relish your zeal for life and boundless confidence knowing all the stumbles I made as confidence escaped me. I commit to a career that brings me joy and creates change, recognizing you will see a path paved with passion and dedication ahead.

You and I live in a world that we fill with story and song. On this day, marking women, let’s indulge in just a few of the stories that have one-by-one created strength with stones in the base of my spine. I hope this honors the incredible humans who have helped me be who I am, and inspires you to surprise the world even more than you already have.

Thank you, Isabelle Dewitt. My great-grandmother, my spicy dance instructor and full-time lover of life. You helped me to see that breaking the rules and having fun was just as important as the discipline I so adore.
Thank you, Edith Ash. My grandmother, my warm and fuzzy rock. You taught me what support really means and how despite death, abandonment and formidable challenge, anyone can smile and influence.
Thank you, Liz Webb. My mother, my confidant and full-time warm hug. You answer my call, you listen and you ultimately call bullshit when I need it. Most of all, you cheer me on and lift me up even on my darkest days.
Thank you, Judy Webb. My aunt who has always loved me with all her heart. You spoiled me with chocolate bunnies and followed me through the Chicago marathon. You play the best pranks and find the best purses. You are a shining example of how to create a lasting marriage.
Thank you, Tansley DeWitt. My aunt, my namesake and inspiration. Your class, poise and style showed me what grace looks like and how even the most polished human can enjoy the opera and afterwards a dark and joyful pub.
Thank you, Danielle Cruz. My sister (no matter different parents). Your heart and your devotion to family marry with a brilliant mind and even more brilliant sense of humor. You’ve lifted the organizations you’ve served to tell their story and there’s nobody I’d rather share pickle juice with.
Thank you, MacDuff Perkins. I spent my youth dreaming about the week every year I’d get to spend in Charlevoix with you. I love the way you find humor in all things and bring it to life in your writing. You are brave, adventurous and raising two incredible humans.
Thank you, Amy Wagner. My friend for life. The person who stood by me when everyone else in the cafeteria was running the other way. You embody what every mom wishes to be. Your creativity lights up the page. You make me laugh until my cheeks hurt. Our adventures always lead to the best stories.
Thank you, Constance Anderson. You pave the road with confidence and finesse. You’ve built an incredible business and found an incredible partner. You are never afraid to stand-up and fight when needed. You’ll geek out on credit unions with me and let me be your third wheel.
Thank you, Marge Stearns. You have an unmatched drive for knowledge. You are a connector that can always find a friend in any room. You explore the world and see beauty on every road. You helped me to make the transition to motherhood with several amazing tips, tricks and one very important “froggy chair.” Go blue!
Thank you, Linda Armyn. My mentor. You set a wonderful example of how we can have all that we want. You lead your teams and love your boys. You tell me when I’m over-thinking and over-worrying. You give it to me straight, and never let me fall.
Thank you, Kelly Fuhlbrigge. Your heart fills the room. Even as you were in the midst of having a new baby and raising a toddler, you made sure that I survived the first few weeks of being a new mom. You navigate politics seamlessly and throw a party Martha Stewart would envy.
Thank you, Erin Coleman. You stand on your convictions and you lead with your heart. You are often the smartest person in the room and your humility never allows that to dominate. Your thoughtfulness is only matched by your perseverance.
Thank you Marien Coss. You are an artist and an incredible aunt. Watching you with MacKenzie brings me such joy as she watches you translate the beauty of the world onto the page.
Thank you, Mollie Bell. You are brave. You are smooth. You burst into the room and light up those around you. You are unmoved by the hurdles and the opinions. You challenge me to be better and to “own what I own” and stop putting “10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag.”
Thank you, Mel Gillen. You stand tall in your convictions founded in data and brilliant analysis. You bring people together and are excited to serve. You pour yourself into your daughter, family and credit unions. Most importantly, you never shy away from a fun moment to have a glass of wine.
Thank you, Marnie Gerkhardt. You speak your mind. You live your values. You love those around you. You see and feel the needs of others and meet them before they even know they exist. You also helped me get my tattoo.
Thank you, Lauren Culp. You will change the world. You have the confidence I hope MacKenzie keeps. You aren’t afraid to take a risk, especially when it means making the world a better place. You inspire the young minds growing in credit unions.
Thank you, Kitsi Hubbard. Your drive, energy and enormous heart make the world better. Your humble sense of humor and monster voice bring laughter to our team. 
Thank you, Colleen Knoll. You are a brilliant financial mind. Your quiet and firm influence brings people along for the journey. You have welcomed me to Canvas and helped me feel a part of the family. Let nobody say Marketing and Finance can’t be friends.
Thank you, Dani Belinski. Your endless energy ensures everything you touch flows seamlessly. You are unmatched in your ambidexterity as you connect, serve and help people with extremely varied needs. In moments of stress, I think of your grace under pressure.
Thank you, Amy Parsons. You welcomed me to Colorado with open arms. You navigate, connect and share your knowledge and passion. You epitomize partnership and collaboration.

Please know, my dear child, that there are many other women in my life that I hope to share with you. This only scratches the surface. As you read about each of these people, I hope that you see how much you can do for those around you and how while we all make different choices and create different paths, that the possibilities truly are exponential for you.

In this moment today, know this. At eight, you roar like a raging fire. Your enthusiasm fills the room. Your joy is boundless. You lead with your heart and I am so impressed with your desire to care for and include those around you. You are fearless and relentless in your pursuit of adventure. You are curious, funny and you’ve never met a stranger. My invitation to you is to find those inspiring women around you and learn. Learn, grow and create the future that fills your cup.

I dreamed of having a girl and on this day, I celebrate you, your future and the amazing women that make this world better and are paving the road where you’ll leave your footprints.

All my love,
Momma
 

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