photo courtesy of OnTask, Flickr

Last night was my daughter’s first rugby game, and let me tell you, she was FIERCE! She threw herself into the game just the way I knew she would – with her whole heart and body. She dug her feet in and pushed with all her might against the opposing team in the scrum (what you see in the photo – but that’s a borrowed photo and not her team). She pummelled any opponent who dared to run by her carrying the ball. She dashed across the field whenever the ball was tossed to her… and she SCORED! In the last seconds of the game, she made it across the line to score her very first “try” (like a touchdown in football) in her very first game.

I thought I would be scared to watch her (this is the girl who tore a ligament in her knee and had to have surgery because of a soccer injury – partly because she is such an intense player), but the truth is I LOVED IT!

I LOVED the energy on the field. I LOVED the way that those young girls get to live out their fierceness in such a healthy and fun way. I LOVED the way Nikki would not back down from even the biggest opponent.

I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I used to be afraid of her fierceness. I used to think it was my job as her mom to help her cage it in some way. I used to cringe when I’d watch her get fouled out in basketball or get penalties in soccer. It was hard to watch that fierce look in her eyes when she’d throw her passion into a sport, because I was afraid she’d get hurt or that she’d hurt someone else. I’d tell her, when she’d come off the field, “can you be a little less vicious? Tone it down a little.”

But now? I am thrilled for her that she has found a sport that honours that fierceness in her. I told her last night, “Honey, don’t ever lose that fierceness. Find healthy ways of using it, but don’t ever let people tell you it’s wrong.”

Because I realized something last night as I watched her. Somewhere along the line, I let my fierceness be caged. I let the expectations that I be a “nice girl”, a “well-behaved girl”, a “quiet girl” put me inside a cage and it is taking me years to break out of that cage. Even now I still fight those bars, trying to break out into freedom. Even now I keep silent when I should be shouting, I make choices that limit me because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, I tell little white lies because I hate offending people with the truth, and I bottle anger inside because it scares me.

After the rugby game last night, I read Ronna Detrick’s magnificent post about the vision, the roar, and the muse and I knew what I needed to do. I need to ROAR! I need quit trying to bottle the fierceness inside me. I need to quit letting myself believe I have to be polite and nice and never hurt anyone’s feelings. I need to challenge those people who dare to bottle my truth just because it scares them. I need to let my inner warrior CHARGE forward with courage and strength.

This morning, as I ran, I had a flashback to the birth of my second daughter. In the depths of labour, after I’d let out a fierce, primal scream, a nurse told me, with a measure of impatience, “if you keep screaming like that, you’ll have no voice tomorrow.” Instantly, I went to that place I go when I’ve dared to step out of the role of “nice, respectful, quiet” girl and someone calls me on it – I went to shame. I bottled the next scream deep inside because I didn’t want to cause anyone annoyance, I didn’t want to embarrass myself, and I didn’t want to risk tomorrow’s voice.

But you know what? Later, after I held my daughter in my arms, I thought, “BULLSHIT! WHY would you tell a birthing woman to keep silent? If you can’t scream in childbirth, when CAN you scream? And what kind of nonsense is not screaming today because it might hurt your voice tomorrow? If today needs a scream, well then, dammit, SCREAM!”

I can’t go back to that moment and let out that next scream I bottled, but I can choose to not let anyone bottle the next scream that needs to erupt from that primal place in me.

I will not be silent anymore.

I will not let my fierceness be caged.

I will challenge old paradigms of leadership and write books about new and scary ideas, if that is the scream that needs to emerge.

And I will sit on the sidelines and CHEER as my fierce daughter charges headlong into a sport that may very well hurt her. Because DAMMIT if she can’t relish her fierceness now, then some day she will be lying in a hospital bed and letting a nurse silence her primal scream.

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