The Past and the Future
It’s International Women’s Day.
I didn’t feel like writing this evening. I started…then stopped….then started again…then gave up. My brain would not focus or formulate intelligent thoughts. I’m just too tired.
But then, I felt guilty. Even though my readers know how I feel about #MeToo and the importance of equality — parity — in all walks of life for women, how could I let this day go by without a mention of it?
I started to think about the women who came before me…my mother and my grandmothers; even my mother- and grandmother-in-law. Women who didn’t know about or dare to fight for a different way of life. I am grateful that I did not live in their worlds of inequality and second-class citizenship.
That said, these women were tough. They pushed boundaries in their own ways…despite what others thought or said. They did what was right for them and their families.
Nana (pictured above in the middle) moved away from home and worked as bookkeeper. She then married a man she didn’t love to please her father. Her husband died (after a long illness) when she was in her forties and she vowed to never marry again; preferring the sole responsibility of working and raising her two sons over caring for another sickly man. Nana was independent (stubborn?), spoke her mind, and supported herself until her death at the age of seventy-nine.
Baba (pictured above on the right) showed tremendous smarts and bravery from a young age. She was responsible for saving many from certain death during the Holocaust. After immigrating to America in 1949, she worked two jobs and deserves the credit for creating close immediate and extended families. She always put others’ needs ahead of her own. Baba did not have an easy life, yet she never complained.
Mother (pictured above on the left) worked outside the home from the time I was ten. Although she did not earn a college degree, she was no dummy. She had a great job with TWA (a now defunct airline) and later owned a successful nail salon with her sister. Her sense of humor, obligation, and duty served us all well.
Today, I am jealous of my daughter, daughter-by-marriage, and all the twenty- and thiry-something young women in my life. They are saying and doing things I wish I could have. They are demanding — and getting — things from the workplace that simply didn’t exist when I was their age. To quote a Huffington Post article, they regularly and openly exhibit the qualities of emanicipated, confident women. They: (1) can admit [and embrace] their flaws; (2) say no when they should say no; (3) listen to others’ viewpoints; (4) don’t conform for the sake of conforming; (5) are open to love even if they know the ride might be painful; (6) ask for help with everything from rent and Fly Wheel classes to advice on accepting new jobs; (7) own their feelings; (8) release guilt; (9) support others; and (10) take care of themselves. We all can learn from them.
As much as I’ve grown from the challenges of the women who came before me, I have transformed even more from those who came after me. I am grateful that I live in this world during a time of change and progress. I am proud of my girls and female friends who have each other’s backs and are taking charge of their own destinies. It’s our time to challenge the norms…to move ahead…to push for our right to a seat at the table.
Let’s do this!!!