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Monday, March 10, 2014

My Girls

  Saturday, March 8th was International Women's Day. I was fortunate to spend it with some of the great women in my life. Sunday as well. Since then, I've been doing a lot of thinking about the women in my life. At the moment I'm surrounded by some strong, smart women whom I can really call friends. After having moved almost every year for several years, this is a welcome change.
  Not all the women in my life have always had such positive influences in my life but they have all, in some way, inspired me. Those of you who are smart, you inspire me to be smarter. Not smarter than you but to push myself to not act like a cotton headed ninny muggins. Those of you who are beautiful inspire me to explore my definition of beauty, realize that you are so much more than just a beautiful face and that you are probably not judging me because of my appearance so I should not be surprised when I discover you're an astro phsyics geek. That really happened. Shame on me. Those of you who are strong inspire me to, as one of my daughters says, "get a straw and suck it up!". You don't let excuses stop you from doing what needs to be done. And I would like you to know I have considered all of you all of these things at one time or another.
      Those of you who have fought or currently fight addictions of any sort, your courage and perseverance inspires me. Those of you who fight chronic pain, illness,  depression or other mental illness inspire me to not give up hope. Those of you who are afflicted with any of the above and seem to have given up hope inspire me to remember to show love to others I meet who are also suffering. I hope you take some comfort in knowing that if I can't help you personally, I have tried to offer someone comfort because of you.
   Working moms. "Nonworking" moms (kids are work!). Married Moms. Single moms. Moms of many. Moms of one. Moms who never got to bring their babies home from the hospital. Moms who loved and then lost. You inspire me with the way you love your children and I learn from your parenting successes AND failures or with the way you carve out a new normal every day. Women who remain childless by choice inspire me with their knowledge of self and strength to cast off the expectations of society.
     Those of you who seem to live a perfect life and do everything right and those of us who make as many mistakes and wrong turns as possible but never give up the fight, you inspire me. Battered women who got away but left pieces of their soul behind and are pushing ahead through life anyway because they fully appreciate their freedom, you inspire me to not take for granted what a fairly easy life I've led. Those of you who remain for whatever reason, you inspire me to support and encourage you and your sisters in the battle. Rape victims who speak out and say, "this happened and it wasn't my fault and it was wrong.", you inspire me with your courage to reject the shame and stigma people try to attach to the victim of such a crime. Keep yelling. Those of you who've suffered an attack and never said a word inspire me to keep talking about it until you are no longer ashamed and afraid to speak out for yourself. I love you and want you to know that nothing you did made it acceptable for someone else to do that to you.
   Nujood Ali, the 10 year old girl in Yemen who defied her father and her culture and sued for divorce from her 30 year old husband and won inspires me with her power and resolution. Her father's second wife who gave her cab fare and an address when her mother was too scared to defy her father also inspires me. The women in India in the pink saris (http://www.gulabigang.in/) who defend their neighbors against abusive husbands or family members inspire me to stand up for others who are unable at the time to  defend themselves. These women are defying thousands of years of cultural teaching at the risk of their own lives. The women who work for the various NGOs to disseminate health information and educate communities of the importance of allowing their young women to obtain an education and to postpone marriage and child bearing, for the health and safety of the young women as well as the economic benefits to the community inspire me to stop talking about the problem and get involved.
      I realize how good I have it and how easy my life is here in the U.S. but it's not enough. It's not enough that I can vote if all women can't. It's not enough that my daughter can serve in the military and, at the age of 20, marry the man of her choosing on her lunch hour. It's not enough that my daughter can have a child out of wedlock and not have to suffer in shame and castigation from our community. It's not enough that my 8 year old can tell me she wants to work at NASA when she grows up instead of having to worry about being married off before puberty. It's not enough that my son isn't being taught to treat women as property but as equals, capable of doing everything he can. It's not enough that my friend's daughter can ride public transportation home from roller derby practice wearing fishnets and booty shorts and not be harassed or assaulted. It's not enough that I can tell my husband, "No" for anything, or that he cooks for our family of 6 while I write, or that I could go back to school after 4 years of marriage and 2 kids. It's not enough that we enjoy and take for granted so many rights and privileges in the west and it won't be until women all over the world receive them and the equality inherent in them. I am inspired to keep speaking up, even if I annoy people and some stop listening. For every few who tune me out, some will continue to listen and sympathize. Some of those will do something.
   You are beautiful, smart, strong, funny, sensitive, fallible, a leader, a role model. Even if you don't feel that any or all of those apply to you, they do. I'm always watching to see "how you so it" and everyday, you inspire me. 

1 comment:

  1. You are a smart, beautiful women and am proud to have you as my niece. I am sure your father and mother are very proud of you too. Love you.

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