Mother’s Day was last Sunday, and I celebrated it like most other millennials did: by sending a short text to my mother and posting on Facebook an old picture of her holding me as a baby. I’m the third child out of four. There are four of us that my mother gave birth to, fed homemade organic food to, occasionally made clothes for, partially home schooled, forced into piano lessons, instilled in a love of reading and nature, and just loved in her human, motherly way.
I started thinking about that, about motherhood. My mom had her first child when she was twenty-four. I turned twenty-five last week and I can hardly remember to pay my rent on time. Motherhood could not be further from my mind at this moment.
We live in a time where women are being given more and more freedom. There is still a long way to go, but we have achieved so much. I know that we have achieved so much, because I am twenty-five years old, unmarried, traveling the world, and preparing to get my masters degree and pursue my career dreams. All of this is met without much opposition and minimal comments on my singleness (I can’t wait for the day when I receive no comments about my singleness).
I was thinking about how different my life is from what my mother’s was when she was my age. And then I was thinking about the ways we are the same. We are both opinionated, compassionate, adventurous, creative. My sister is this way to. She and I have a lot of feelings that sometimes overflow into arguments or art, just like our mother. We are each emotional in our own very specific ways, and above all we are each strong. I see it every day in myself, in my sister, in my mother.
I am constantly amazed by the incredible strength of women. Do you understand how much strength it takes to give birth to a child? To literally bring life into this world? The strength of being a mother? I know that I don’t understand that. I’ve never done it. Though I do understand the strength it takes to choose over and over again to not be afraid. I understand the strength it takes to speak up in a room full of men. It takes strength to share your story. It takes strength to make choices that people don’t agree with, to pursue careers where there are few women, to walk into a situation where you know everyone will scrutinize the way you look. It takes strength to get angry in a world that mocks female anger. It takes strength to get married in a culture where that so often means a greater sacrifice for the wife than for the husband. It takes strength to be unmarried in a culture that favors married women over single ones. It takes strength to escape abuse. It takes strength to go to school. It takes strength to stand up for injustice. Some days it just takes strength to walk out the door. Being a woman in this world is hard, and sometimes it takes strength to exist.
That is why I am so thankful to my mother, my grandmothers, my aunts, the mothers of my friends, and all the many women who showed me what it means to be strong. They showed me that strength is not one thing, that women are not one thing. Think about the women in your life. Think about your mother who grew you inside of her and gave you life. Think about the women who cooked and cleaned and did the dishes; about the women who taught you, advocated for you, went to work every day and showed you what means to have goals. Think about all the women who raised you.
If you have any strength at all, it is because they do.
“I am a Woman
Phenomenal Woman, that‘s me.”
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