Where my girls at?
As a side bar, my title today is from an incredible obscure song from a girl group called 808. I loved this song and sang it all the time (my deepest apologies to those I terrorized with it back in the day). But I felt it an appropriate title and it made me smile to sing it again. I’ve been singing it in my head for days.
Before I begin, while the focus of this particular post is women. Many of the men I know fit these same characteristics and have undergone some of the same trials and tribulations I will speak of and I have crazy respect for them as well. So, no disrespect is meant by excluding them from this post…I’ll get to them later!
Today I write about the awesome of woman. Which is fitting in so many ways as it is International Women’s Day and because I just taught about Women’s suffrage in my American history class. What great timing, if I do say so myself.
In case you didn’t know, I teach high school history. It’s a passion of mine and I love history and I love my students. When learning about women’s suffrage we started to talk about the anti-suffragists. Some of them couldn’t figure out why people, especially women, would be against giving women the right to vote. So I showed them some of the arguments the anti’s made as to why it would be a bad idea to give women the right to vote.
- Women were high-strung, irrational and emotional
- Women were not smart or educated enough
- Women should stay at home
- Women were to physically frail; they would get tired just walking to the polling station (my personal favorite)
- Women would become masculine if they voted
Anti-suffrage propaganda boasted slogans like “you don’t need the vote to clean your kitchen sink”.
Wow. My students felt the same way. It’s hard to believe that people, especially, women, thought this way. But it’s real. This is just a snippet of that story.
My students didn’t know that people like Susan B. Anthony, in 1872, voted illegally in a presidential election and was arrested in her efforts to gain more rights for women. On her death bed she said to a friend, “to think I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty and then to die without it seems so cruel.” Truer words. Anthony would die 14 years before the 19th amendment would pass. But arguably, without her, it would have never been possible. Way to be awesome Susan B. Anthony. To celebrate her on election day, people place their I voted stickers on her headstone. I can’t think of a more awesome way to celebrate this woman; no doubt she’s doing a happy dance in Heaven on election day!
My students also didn’t know that a woman by the name of Alice Paul would picket a war time president and end up in jail where she would go on a hunger strike. While Paul was prepared to die to further her cause, the powers that be couldn’t have that…so they force fed her. Raw eggs. Repeatedly. She persevered and was able to see the 19th amendment become law. I’d imagine that was a pretty incredible day in her life. As a woman I feel immense gratitude to these women of history as they fought the good fight and granted me and my friends freedoms I am sure we take for granted at times. I’m grateful for examples like this to tell my students and my own children about. Women are strong. Women are awesome.
As I watched the repulsive Larry Nasser trial unfold I couldn’t help but marvel at the strength of all his victims that got up in that court room and faced their abuser head on. That is courage. That was inspiring and that made me proud to be a woman.
Let’s look at perhaps the biggest example of what it means to be an incredible woman and mother, our Blessed Virgin Mother, Mary. As I’ve said before, Mary’s my girl. But seriously…this woman took on more than most would ever even consider and then at the end of it all had to give up her Beloved son for our salvation. She even had to watch him be tortured and die. As a mom, there is nothing worse than watching your own child suffer. Holy cow. Blessed Virgin Mary…what you did was pretty amazing and makes me want to be a better, stronger person every day. Thank you.
Without a doubt, however, the most inspiring woman in my own life, is Gaga, aka Ellen Bell, my mom. I always tell people that she is an Oprah Winfrey special waiting to happen and nothing could be closer to the truth. It is a story I hope to tell someday…but I’ll save it for later. My mom is the toughest, most resilient, most forgiving, kindest person I know. She has consistently set the bar so high I often feel like I could never reach it. But I take comfort in knowing that if I am about 10% of what she is, that I’m crushing it. Because, seriously, she’s that good. So I can’t talk about the importance and awesome of women without mentioning the most influential woman in my own life. My mom.
There is a quote going around social media that says: “I am a strong woman because a strong woman raised me.” I know this is true for me. I can only hope one day my own girls feel that way about me. It’s definitely a goal!
After looking at all these examples who inspired me to write this entry I think, it’s fair, to first point out, how un-awesome we women are to ourselves sometimes. We aren’t skinny enough, tall enough, smart enough, funny enough, don’t make enough money etcera, etcera, etcera. And that is just the superficial stuff. If you want me to get into all the ways we shame ourselves as wives and mothers…it’s gonna be awhile before I get to the awesome. So in spirit of keeping with just the awesome…I’ll refrain. But seriously ladies, we MUST stop (and I speak to myself here too)!
We women need to be reminded of just how completely and totally awesome we are.
First, our bodies, which are beautiful, whatever size they choose to be…can house human beings. That’s right, even if you chose to never have kids or if for some reason or not you cannot have kids it’s still pretty incredible that our bodies are capable of this miraculous gift. A living, breathing human being grows in our body and then comes out of it. Sorry to be crass, but it’s true. It’s the most insane human experience I’ve ever had and I have no doubt GOD knew what he was doing when he created women for this most important job.
The fact that we can grow a human in our body and still walk around functioning, speaking declarative sentences and kick ass and take names should be enough to make us awesome…then, however, we actually push this tiny human being out of our body with just our brute strength and determination. That’s a whole nother level of awesomeness. Seriously.
We are strong. So strong. We can do things we don’t even know we do. For instance, when there is a family crisis, who is there holding it all together? I’d argue, the person with the Y chromosome is. We can manage 2nd grade math (most of the time). We can manage multiple kids sports schedules and still manage to get everyone where they needed to be on time. We can work, yet still be present and good mothers to our children. We can do anything we put our minds to. Anything. I’m grateful that I was raised in a home where that was the only understanding I was allowed to explore.
Women can be the very best friends. We can be the very best examples for our children. We can put our own needs dead last and still manage to feel total happiness.
All of these things make me marvel at women. But let’s look at some of the other women I know and see all that we are capable of…
I know women who have buried their own children. There is nothing worse than being at a funeral for a child and mourning that life not lived. Nothing. It’s unspeakable sadness for these women…but these same women have continued to go on and love and smile and live. Amazing. Awesome.
I know women who have high pressure jobs, who are the bread winners in their house, who can manage more than most but still make time for their family and friends and somehow, they keep it all together.
I know women who played college sports and survived 2/3 a day’s (myself included J). Believe me, it’s something to be proud of, they aren’t fun.
I know women who can sing and the sound of their voice brings a tear to my eye.
I know women who are the best friends. Who drop what they are doing and come to your side if you need them.
I know women who were raped. Their bodies violated. Yet these same women were able to trust and love and heal in spite of this incredibly terrible thing that happened to them.
I know women whose own parents hit them. The people they should have been able to trust the most didn’t protect them, they instead did the opposite. These same women went on to be some of the best mothers I’ve ever seen.
I know women who have chronically ill children. Who still manage to go to their other kid’s events, put a smile on their face and put one foot in front of the other when things just don’t seem to be going their way.
I know stay at home mom’s, who have the hardest and arguably most important job in the world.
I know Pinterest mom’s who make all of us non-Pinterest mom’s feel inadequate, but these women bring joy to our own children’s lives with their creativity and inspire us to try to be creative too.
I know women who buried their parents far too young. Some who don’t even remember their parents who died when they were children.
I know single mom’s. Enough prayers can’t be said for these women.
I know women who have cancer, that live with it everyday. I also know women who have beat cancer with more grace that I could ever dream of having.
I know women who have children who have cancer and face that demon with incredible strength and faith in GOD. Amazes me every time I think about it.
I know women whose hearts have been broken but found a way to overcome that pain and love again.
I know all kinds of women who have suffered beautifully and loved and lost and I have learned a lesson from every one of them.
I watched a high school senior get in front of her entire student body with not one ounce of fear and pump them up for an upcoming state basketball game.
I know women who have so many different gifts and have taught me so many different things.
As a woman, on this day, when we are supposed to celebrate women, I can’t help but feel incredibly grateful to all the strong women (young and old) who helped raise me, who have inspired me and who I am blessed enough to call my friends.
So women, let’s stop cutting ourselves and each other down. Let’s instead, look at each other and the crazy awesome stuff we are capable of and the crazy awesome stuff we have accomplished and start a slow clap for each other and ourselves.
I’ll leave you with this…
“Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.”
I can’t not show you this picture of Susan B. Anthony’s headstone…so good. Below is a compilation of a few of my favorites. Enjoy!