One of the best things that ever happened to me is that I’m a woman. That is the way all females should feel.Marilyn Monroe
Today is International Women’s Day. I never really recognized these “special” days but given our cultural climate, that of identity confusion, I’m actually grateful for the amount of attention this day is getting. There has been such a focus on what you can be and that you don’t have to be bound to one thing, that we have forgotten how beautiful it is to be bound to the identity of being a woman. Or we focus so much on the right for equality, that women are just as good as men, which really is ridiculous because where is the ambition in that? And it just doesn’t allow for true girl power. Women are their own unique sex, person, type, character, and that is a beautiful thing. There are great things about being a woman that one shouldn’t be ashamed of, ridiculed or criticized for or made to feel inferior. But we have lost the celebration of this. Truthfully, I think I lost the celebration of this.
My journey of growing up has had its ups and downs. I’ve had various life circumstances, happenings, and choices that have, perhaps, left me on the journey of figuring out who I am and what I want to be a bit longer than some. I’ve struggled with enjoying the here and now because my current life often feels mundane with house chores, shuttling kids, and everything in between (I’m currently procrastinating on a literal mountain of laundry). It makes me feel like I could be doing so much more. That I could be more.
As I listened to the radio on the way to pick up my eldest at school, I listened to a few female celebrities talk about the women who impacted their lives and many had the same story of how their moms were/are hard workers, showed them they can be strong women, be a mom and be a business woman, etc. So I thought about the women who have impacted my life and I found that they didn’t just show me how to be strong or how to be a mom but to be a woman. How to be Aunt Bee the caretaker, Elizabeth Bennet the passionate, Anne Shirley the imaginative, Audrey Hepburn the classic, and all the others. They’ve shown me that I can do and can be more in the every day. So here’s to the women in my life:
Great-Grandmother: I don’t have very memories of her but there is one that has stuck with me. One time we visited her in the nursing home and her eyesight was mostly gone but she could see the length of my black hair. I remember my mother being surprised that she could make that out and my great grandmother said, “Well I can’t see much but I can see that and it’s beautiful. You are beautiful, my dear.” Compliments don’t have to be superficial. In fact they shouldn’t be. Be direct. Be real. There’s no place for comparison in a compliment. Focus on the person and sincerely admire them.
Grandmother: There is so much I could say about my grandmother. But if I have to boil it down, I would say that she has taught me how to be sassy and classy and that the art of diplomacy and confidence begins with a smile. I’ve seen my grandmother at various events, from casual to formal and she always seemed to glide through each event. Looking back, she never failed to smile. She could’ve hated the event, been annoyed by the people, not understand a thing that was being said, not felt her best, but she still smiled. You never would’ve guessed any underlying thing. And her smile was often what eased the people around her. She stood by my grandfather’s side through many events and she smiled. Diplomacy and confidence begins with a smile.
As for sassy and classy. These may just be my two favorite traits. As diplomatic as my grandmother can be, she’s also not afraid to say no or do what she wants. My mom recently told me a story of when they were figuring out what they wanted for dinner and my mom asked my grandmother what she wanted. She said she didn’t want any of the suggestions, that she was going to have a root beer float. So she did. I know that seems like a silly kind of sass but that’s just it. My grandmother has shown that you can be sassy in a way that makes a person chuckle, not put them off. Pair that with the fact she has always had a great sense of style (I seriously love when I get her hand-me-downs) and you have a well-balanced woman. You can be sassy, but don’t let it outweigh the classy.
Mother: She’s incredibly smart, fed by the fact she’s a voracious reader, and is genuinely intrigued by a lot of what life and people have to offer. But she has taught me that none of that matters if you don’t know how to apply it. We share the unfortunate desire to read a book instead of doing the things we should be doing. Dishes or laundry that waited because we were captivated by a book. Things of interest become trivial if they don’t impact how we do the every day, even if it’s just how we think which in turn, affects how we do. Feeding our imagination becomes procrastination if we don’t let our imagination fuel our ambitions.
And we both enjoy watching people and learning their stories. Learning what makes them tick. Learning their unique imprint on the world. But as fascinated as she is by people, it doesn’t take away from her ability to listen, to empathize, and to be compassionate. Sometimes when I knew my friends were troubled, I’d bring them home like a stray cat for my mom to show a little TLC towards. She’d listen to their story and glean from her reading, her experience, her observations, and what she has learned about them to help that person get stable footing. She’d lend her wisdom. Observing people and learning about them is just, well, creepy, if you don’t actually learn from what you see and hear; if it doesn’t help you become a better listener, or let it develop your ability to empathize, or to be more understanding and compassionate. If you don’t let it help you become wise.
Sister: Of all the women in my life, she has taught me how to be girly. She’s taught me to giggle, enjoy fashion and makeup, the fun in crushes and boys, and to have a little drama but also to say c’est la vie. My sister will click her way through Lowe’s in high heels and then paint her house once her kids are asleep. She plans parties and meals down to every last detail. She goes the extra mile in all things. She puts her best foot forward. It may be a Louboutin adorned foot, but like I said, she puts her best forward. She balances character and femininity. She is the embodiment of something Coco Chanel once said, “Keep your heels, head, and standards high.”
I know it seems like I listed things that just make a person a better person but that’s part of becoming a woman. It’s growing in all things, not just ones that make us “the dame”. It’s always derogatory, right? The dame is the one with the legs, the boobs, and the seductive looks. The one that leaves men falling over themselves. But then think of the times that they would say, “That’s one hell of a dame.” It was the one who knew herself. Who showed confidence, her intelligence, and her femininity. Who knew what she was capable of and embraced, or dare I say even flaunted, being a woman. I want to be that one. I want to be the “can do” Rosie, the witty Elizabeth, the dreamer Anne, the elegant Audrey, and the hospitable Aunt Bee. I want to be my directly sincere great-grandmother, my sassy and classy grandmother, my wise mother, and my feminine sister. I want to be all woman. I want to be one hell of a dame.