16 September 2012
Today is the day! "Celebrating Womanhood" is an event created by some amazing blogging woman as a day to celebrate, well, women! (Click on the link to read the other posts by other amazing women!) .
I have stewed about what to write on this day. Many out there feel that women have been treated poorly lately. Politicians have said things, the media have said things, etc. I don't listen much to what other people say. But I do know a lot about women's history and I do know where women have been and where they are today and all I can say is "We've come a long way baby" (Yes, I know that's stolen ; )
With that said, I think I'll focus a little closer to home.
There have been many women in my life that have influenced me in a myriad of ways. I could talk about them all, my paternal grandmother who left England alone in the late 1920's to build a new life in New york City, or my maternal grandmother who survived growing up in poverty in tenement buildings in that same city, and survived an abusive alcoholic marriage, or my own mother, who survived terrible sexual and physical abuse as a child and battled her own demons as an adult, but still managed to raise three fairly decent human beings, of which I am one. They each have their own inspiring stories, and looking back at their lives, I realize how much of each of them is in me.
But in telling their story, Id really be telling my own. I am a product of who they were. The grandmother who took a risk to come to a foreign country to find a better life. She met her husband on the boat coming over, and got pregnant our of wedlock too! Quite a scandal in those days, but it made me aware that women have been the same for generations. Impulsive, desirous, and willing to risk for love. My other grandmother who finally left an abusive husband and moved in with a new man, way before such a thing was accepted. She knew what she had to do and critics be damned. Such scandalous behavior from my own grandmothers! Later in life when I decided to move in with my now husband well before we married, and I actually conceived both of my children before we wed, I felt no shame in my actions. It was my life and I felt free to live it as I saw fit.
Then there was my own mother, who spent her adult life recovering from her childhood, but did the best she could to teach her daughters to stand up for themselves and find their own passions. My mother loved to tell us "Depend on no man, learn how to take care of yourself". She made sure my sister and I were strong, independent and opinionated women. And before I met my husband, I had the chance to live on my own and take care of myself, and while I now love having my husband in my life and love feeling cared for, I know that if I had to care for myself that I am more than capable of doing so.
All three of those women found love in their lives,. My parents in particular had an amazing love story. They met when they were 14, married at 21. They respected each other. My father was evolved enough to know that women could work, have their own careers, and my mother did just that. I was actually in daycare in NYC when I was 4 and 5. Now some people might find that an odd thing to celebrate, but in 1972, not too many kids were in daycare. I loved it actually and my mom loved her job. And while I have chosen a different path in raising my children, I was empowered by my own mother to know that I could do anything and choose any path I wished. .
Actually my grandmothers were working women as well. I guess that's a by-product of growing up in a city. So in retrospect, knowing that all these women in my life worked, it's interesting that I became a stay at home mom. And not even just a stay at home mom, but a homeschooling, stay at home mom.
But what they gave me was freedom of choice. I knew I could do anything I wanted to do. I was never told I had to be something I wasn't. I was never told I had to behave a certain way or look a certain way or that certain things were only available to men.
Freedom to be the woman and mother that I wanted to be, that was the gift given to me by the women in my life. And I know it was much harder for them to do what they did than it ever was for me.
Now it's my turn. My own daughters are 15 and 17 now. I have done my best to instill in them that they too can do and be anything they wish. I have never put expectations or demands on them to be something they are not. They do not have to grow up and be stay at home, homeschooling moms. If they choose an entirely different path than the one I chose I will be happy for and with them, because they will be their own women with their own freedoms. And I can thank the women who came before me for giving me the example that we can be who want to be.
This is a great time to be a woman and we need to shut out the voices of negativity that we hear and listen to the only voice that matters, the one in our heart.