A Canna Mom Essay

The day Anthony Bourdain killed himself, I decided it was time to rewrite the narrative of my life. It’s a point in my canna journey I don’t often share, but it goes something like this.

I woke on the morning of June 8, 2018, and started my day like so many before. I had a list of things to do and was going to do them. On this morning I was listening to the news while getting ready for the day. I don’t remember which talking head delivered the story, but when I heard the words “We are sorry to share that Anthony Bourdain killed himself”, I got very upset. I mean really, really, really upset. In fact, to this day, those words leave a small pain in my chest. 

And I’m not sure why, really, because it’s not like Anthony Bourdain and I were friends. I’d never even seen him in person. But Anthony Bourdain was a storyteller, and so am I. He shared his perspective of this big and beautiful world with my family through his food adventures and seemed to own the narrative of a life well-lived. But he had his demons, as we all do, and when he chose to end his time with us, it shocked me.

It shocked me enough to worry that if I did not change the trajectory of my own narrative, my story could end like his.

On that warm June morning, it had been almost two years since I’d reinvested myself in a search for monetized employment in the “real” world. I had heard the news of Anthony Bourdain’s suicide as I was getting ready for another day of searching for something that felt impossible to find. When my husband found me sobbing in my home office, he put down his bags. I am not, by disposition, a dramatic person. Rick sat quietly next to me as I told him how sad I was. How ashamed I felt in my continual failure to hold down paid employment. How disappointed I still felt about losing what I had thought would be my “forever” job. How it still pained me that I’d lost that hard-fought election. He listened, but I couldn’t stop crying. 

I felt like a failure.

I told him how sad Anthony Bourdain’s unexpected death made me. I tried to explain how it felt to see a person like him, an adoring father, celebrity, unique human soul, allow the darkness to overcome him. Then I allowed myself to go down one last rabbit hole. 

I told him how ashamed I felt at all my professional failures, and how fearful I was that when our daughter left for college that I would have no purpose. How I was beginning to believe that maybe the world was correct and that I was not good enough. 

That’s when he stopped me. 

He held my hands and looked into my eyes. “Of course you are good enough,” he said quietly, still trying to wrap his head around what was going on and trying to keep me calm. “You’re exceptional.”

That stopped me and I was like, “Maybe.”

“You finished law school and took the bar pregnant, no man has ever done that.”

“True,” I said, wiping the snot from my face, “that is pretty exceptional. I have proven that a woman’s brain and uterus can work simultaneously.” And we laughed.

“And I love you,” he said as he picked up his bicycle bags before walking out the door.

After he left, I spent that morning creating the space to rewrite the narrative of who I am and what my past really meant. 

What I know now is that it’s persistence not failure that defines me. I have a strong and independent voice, as do many of my sisters in this world. I’m one of those women who gets little credit but is always there to pick up the shit. I create order out of chaos even if no one in the “real” world believes my leadership skills deserve a salary.

We are an army, women like me, who’ve done what women have always done; raised our families, served our communities, kept the world organized.

But we can do more than the generations before, because we were given so much when we were younger. I am a child of the 70’s, the generation that was taught by our feminist leaning mothers that we would not be defined by our bodies, but by our minds. 

They were wrong. 

Although those grand predictions of a more equitable society have not come true for the majority of women in this world, we must continue the pursuit of the more equitable society our mothers were trying to build. They may not have known themselves what this world would look like, but I believe we could build this world in cannabis.  

For almost six years I was the mom who stayed home and did all the things moms are supposed to do. During those years it felt like no matter what I did or how much I knew, my life would be defined by my uterus and not my education. It was, to be honest, frustrating. I’m the kind of person who tries too hard, and sometimes my need for control and order undermines other valuable parts of this life. When Anthony Bourdain died, I gave up trying to control all the forces around me that were structured against me and allowed myself space to reflect on all I had rather than what I did not.

When I heard that Anthony Bourdain - a person who felt like a friend - had killed himself, it broke something deep inside of me. On that morning, once I’d stopped crying and could recognize I was no longer sad but angry. I understood I had to stop judging myself because it didn’t matter if strangers couldn’t see my value. I had to embrace the uncertainty and stop apologizing for failing in a system that didn’t seem to want me, a mom, and that I am good enough. 

The women of my generation are working to make this world better for our children and I know that the stories we tell about ourselves matter.

I’m invested in the cannabis industry because I see it as a space where women, moms and caregivers, are adding value and elevating the professionalism of this emerging industry every day. 

I don’t know who needs to hear this message - this canna mom wisdom that was hard-earned and needs to be shared, but if you have read this far, I want you to believe that you are exceptional and that the cannabis industry needs you. I used to dream of a world where exceptional women could achieve like mediocre men, but that seems unfair. Now I want a world where all women can succeed just like mediocre men, but for this world to exist we must build it. 

I remain sorrowful that Anthony Bourdain chose to end his life, but I know that his untimely death changed me for the better.  I’m not ashamed anymore about my “failures” because when I stopped crying for Anthony I took the time to look at the life I’ve created. The narrative of my life is good. My children have given me beauty and music and without them my world would be devoid of so much color and joy. My canna journey may not have happened without all the detours and maybe this version of me would not exist. But here I am, and I know that what I have is a life that adds value to this big and beautiful world, and so do you.