Friday, Oct. 5, was the one-year anniversary of the New York Times story that brought down Harvey Weinstein.
Friday is my daughter's 13th birthday.
The two are related only in that the Weinstein story, and the #MeToo tidal wave it unleashed, continually shape the way I try to help my daughter understand her safety, her bodily autonomy and, above all else, intimacy and love.
I have high hopes for my daughter's generation.
I watch the way she and her peers dive head- and heart-first into life, confident they can solve the world's problems, certain they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves, largely unburdened by the nagging questions that plagued me and my friends at their age: Am I enough for a boy? Am I too much for a boy? Who should I be for a boy? What should I do for a boy?
I have felt so confident watching my daughter live as comfortably in her skin around boys as she does around girls, watching her laugh until she cries with boys, watching her do push-up contests with boys, watching her compete at debate tournaments with boys, watching her twirl around the gym floor during the winter dance I chaperoned with boys.
Her generation is doing things differently, I marvel. Better.
The boys and girls compete with one another as equals. They approach each other as pals. They confide in each other as allies. Not universally, but certainly more than my adolescent peers and I did.
Surely, I think, that counts for a lot.
I have never wanted to scare her.
I have wanted her to think of crushes and someday flirting and someday dating and someday loving and someday intimacy as perfectly wonderful things. Some of life's very best things, in fact.
I have never wanted her to approach them from a crouched position, from a place of dread or even doubt.
I have wanted her to approach them head- and heart-first.
I have probably been naive.
A family friend recently sat at our dining room table and told me and my daughter about the time she was sexually assaulted. It was on topic and perfectly within the context of our conversation. It was incredibly brave.
It was yet another reminder, sandwiched inside a year of them, that my daughter needs more than my optimism.
We have conversations about consent. I have been that mom, from the beginning, who doesn't make my kids go in for the hug they don't want, who doesn't tolerate tickling (I actually loathe tickling), who reminds them, over and over, that no one gets to tell them what to do with their bodies – and they never get to tell others what to do with theirs.
Before Weinstein opened the floodgates, before so many of us started sharing – openly, painfully, sometimes very publicly – our wounds, I thought that might be enough.
Now I'm not sure. I still don't want to scare her. But I also want her to be prepared.
For a world that immediately improved when she entered it. For a world that will be forever better for her presence. For a world where she will, I'm confident, meet a partner who recognizes that and respects that and tells her that.
But also for a world that bestows far too much power on far too many people who aren't worthy. For a world where that power is assumed in all times and all places and abused in ways that leave permanent scars. For a world where that happens in workplaces, in social settings, in schools, in families, in places that should feel safe and free.
I want my daughter to look back, in a decade or two, and marvel at how far we've come, how much progress we've made toward eradicating sexual violence, at viewing, hiring, paying, electing, loving women as equals, at tackling our demons.
Survivors set that progress in motion and shove it forward every time they speak their truth, in spite of a culture that doesn't want to hear it.
I'm grateful and heartbroken for the reminders, even as I grapple with how, exactly, they should shape my parenting.
Because in some ways, my daughter's world looks and feels nothing like the one I grew up in. But in most ways, I'm afraid it looks all too familiar.