Today I was inspired to write about all the things I admire and respect about the women in my life. It seems to me, as I peruse groups on-line, that as moms and as women we spend a lot of time judging each other or comparing ourselves in ways that are not so compassionate, not so broad-minded. And it’s so easy to look at our female role models and criticize. So today I accentuate the positive. I just finished Dorothy Allison’s novel Bastard Out of Carolina, and the compassion and empathy pouring from those pages motivated me to take a more loving perspective.
I’ll start closest to home.
What I love, respect, and admire about my mother:
1.) She gets more open-minded with age instead of the reverse. I can see her growing more positive and more accepting as time passes.
2.) She never wore uncomfortable shoes. She has never reshaped her foot to fit into a torturous high heel, even though she’s only 5’4″. She buys shoes that feel good and doesn’t hurt herself for fashion. And I remember her barefoot often! I love it!
3.) She was always my ally against school bullies. She would not hold her tongue when it came to kids who picked on me. She gave them, and sometimes their parents, a piece of her mind.
4.) She’s evolved so far beyond her childhood disadvantages. She came from a poor family. She was beaten and told she would amount to nothing. And yet she became an entrepreneur and kept pushing herself to go beyond the limits imposed on her by others.
5.) She became her own boss. This inspired me to know that I never really have to work for anyone but myself if I just put out the effort.
6.) She made me believe I can do anything. She never said “You can’t” be this or do that in regard to my dreams and aspirations.
7.) She taught me the joy of gardening. I remember when I was very young, the tomatoes ripening on the window sill, and digging in the dirt for radishes. I still have the undying need to grow my own food!
8.) She’s creative. Whatever she does she takes pride in it and uses her creativity to make it the best it can be. She learns new skills to do the things she needs and wants to accomplish. Even before opening her own business she would make clothes for me, refinish furniture, and do all sorts of creative things.
9.) She sings. She sang to my brother and I all the time.
10.) She’s the history keeper. She believes in the importance of maintaining family albums, and keeping the story of our family alive.
11.) She’s a very warm person. No matter how far away I am, or how long it’s been since we last talked, she always reaches out to let me know she loves me.
12.) She’s forgiving. Sometimes to a fault. But forgiveness is truly a valuable skill.
1.) She’s strong and resilient. She went through war, losing her son to drugs, and even breast cancer and she still has the energy to smile, laugh, and love with her full self.
2.) She’s a skilled designer and seamstress. Whether it be the gorgeous new dress for my daughter, or curtains to make our house more homey, she generously offers her skills to beautify our lives.
3.) She’s a great cook. At any family gathering there are so many yummy things to eat. She truly enjoys feeding others.
4.) She’s generous. She gives more than she has sometimes to family in need, especially her kids.
5.) She dances! My mom-in-law can bellydance!
6.) She used to let her kids sleep with her whenever they wanted. She’s such a loving mommy! And she listens to her kids when they need her.
7.) She breastfed 5 kids! That is a feat! Did I mention she had five kids?! Managing that is quite a feat all in itself. And she ran a household well and worked. I don’t know how she did it.
8.) She moved to a new country with a new language (even a new alphabet!) and thrives here.
9.) She doesn’t stay in a situation that hurts her. She has lots of self respect.
10.) She’s accepting of differences. She loves people for who they are, and does not like to shame or judge others.
11.) She has a great sense of style. She’s always so well put-together.
12.) She’s worldly. She knows what’s going on in the world and cares deeply.
What I love, respect, and admire about my grandmother, Betty:
1.) She is strong. I mean physically and mentally. She lifted hay bales and worked on the farm her entire life.
2.) She gave birth naturally at home without any drugs or help. That’s just the way they did things, she says. She says she was scared. But she did it twice, and I think it’s amazing.
3.) She’s earthy. She don’t mind if you pee out in the field or get dirty. I love that!
4.) She knows how to live off the grid. She grew her own food, cooked from scratch, made clothes, hung the clothes to dry on the line, and used a wood burning stove in the winter.
5.) She gives big hugs. Especially to kids. You can see the love in her eyes.
6.) She loves her music. Elvis especially.
7.) She lets you be so you can know yourself. If you want to disappear for a while on granddad’s motorcycle, even when you just learned to ride, she doesn’t show you that she’s worried. She let’s you get stuck in the mud and sends someone out to look for you after a while. You get to experience yourself, your own strengths and limits. And that’s one of life’s most valuable experiences.
8.) She loves animals. Always feeding and caring for the feral kitties.
9.) She’s curious about the world. She’s always reading and clipping newspaper stories, and loves to travel and see new things.
10.) She is nurturing and empathetic. If you’re sick she’ll stay up all night with you to make sure you are more comfortable. If you get eaten up by bugs, she almost seems like she can feel it too.
11.) She taught me the value of sitting out on the porch swing and listening to the whippoorwills. She knows the value of a long walk in nature. Quiet times are the best thing in the world!
12.) She always grew strawberries just for me. I always felt important around her.
That’s just the beginning of my list. I think I’ll make this a regular thing. It feels good to have so many amazing women in my life!
What do you love about the women you know?