Authentic Eagles: Katie Dalton On Femininity

As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our struggles in the constant quest to appear perfect. Embracing our  truths can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials and tribulations of being one’s authentic self at BC.

Katie Dalton, Women's Resource Center

I believe in me.

I opened the latch on the screen door and went running down the granite steps of my home toward the open concrete road that was often transformed into a playground, where games like “running bases,” street hockey, “off the wall,” and kickball were habitually played. This particular summer morning my friends, the other residents of Barnstable Street, were already in the throes of a competitive game of stickball. As I was running down the stairs in my purple Umbros, with my Samba Classics on, I was yelling “Can I play, can I play, can I play?!” As I reached the bottom step and jumped to the sidewalk, James, the oldest boy on the street, said, “We already made teams but you can be automatic catcher.” I don’t know anyone who is thrilled with being automatic catcher, especially when the stickball field resides on the top of a large hill, but James’s reasoning made sense so I took my position behind the plate, not necessarily happy, but content to be included.

That is, until my neighbor Joel, who was my age (9 at the time) and who had the same slight build, came out of his house and asked to play, to which James responded, “Sure, you’re on our team.” I immediately stood up. “WHAT? Are you serious?! I just asked and you made me automatic catcher…that’s not fair!”

I connected the dots: James didn’t want me to play because I was a girl. Although I hate to admit it, that outburst was followed by some tears, running back up the stairs to my home, slamming the door, and recounting the event to my mother. My mom marched me right back down the granite stairs to confront this injustice.

From that day on I vowed to not be satisfied to just be included. This competitive drive pushed me to practice and excel at most challenges I pursued, athletic or otherwise. I went on to become a three sport varsity athlete who was recruited to small Division 3 schools. Sports defined who I was as I was growing up and through sports I learned about commitment, what it meant to be a good teammate, tenacity, and perfection. I learned how much I enjoyed shattering expectations that others had of me. I was convinced that I was going to go through life continuing to do just that.

Flash forward to 17 months ago. I gave birth to my first child, Liam Joseph Walsh, on April 22, 2012…after 18 hours of labor. He was born with bright red hair, lots of it, a crocked smile and dancing eyes. He is absolutely perfect. During those difficult days after bringing Liam home and trying to rebuild a new life around this tiny new person who demanded so much of my time and energy, I began to negotiate with God. I began to very quickly surrender my career goals and ambitions and trade my competitive drive to just survive. That’s right, I just wanted to survive parenthood–if it meant giving up what I was striving for personally, I would do it. I would do anything to be a good mother to Liam. I would do anything if God would help me get through this, which was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. I started talking to my husband about working part-time…about definitely staying home if/when we had a second child. I couldn’t fathom being able to balance work and life when I could hardly balance life.

This negotiation lasted three months, I returned to work, surrounded by other women who had “made it” and realized that this was just another opportunity to shatter expectations, but this was different because the expectations I would shatter would be my own.

This I believe.