I wanted to commemorate this day by honouring some of the awesome women in my family. The older I get the more I realize that it’s the modest accomplishments of so many ordinary women who inspire so many of us in our daily lives. Its their quiet strength that makes you realize that you are not alone and that others have been where you are and understand where you are going. So let’s raise a glass shall we?
To my Great Grandma who married at seventeen and had two daughters but was brave enough to leave her husband and start again back in a time when women were supposed to accept their lot in life. Her third pregnancy led to her second marriage (you go Nanny) and when she died well into her eighties she was still watching the Parliamentary channel every day, despite failing hearing and sight, so she could curse Brian Mulroney.
To my Grandma who raised a daughter and two sickly sons who were in the hospital more than they were out. She worked in a factory and still managed to put meals on the table, kept an immaculate house, and got back and forth to the hospital for visits and volunteer work. She also apparently threw a mean party, if those pictures from the mid ‘60s were anything to go by (picture a scene out of Mad Men in an east end Montreal living room). I remember her best as the Grandma who taught me how to bake and who always seemed to understand me in her understated way. Losing her a couple of years ago was the saddest day of my life.
And to my Mum who never finished high school but who is one of the smartest women I know. She didn’t have an easy life but she never stood in the way of my sister and I, even if she didn’t know how to help. I remember when I was little she worked from home doing telephone surveys with housewives and arranging to send them product samples. She did it with my sister and I underfoot, a poodle and a doberman running around, and she did it in French and English!! As I got older, there were babysitting and retail jobs to help make ends meet but she was always there , and that more than anything kept us on the straight and narrow through those turbulent teen years. I know that she could have been so many different things if she had ever felt she had the opportunity, and it’s for her that I strive to achieve my own dreams. One of my happiest days was giving her a second grandson on her wedding anniversary only about a year after losing my dad.
Lastly, to my little sister who is the bravest woman I know. She had three children and had been a stay at home mother for 12 years when she left her emotionally abusive marriage. Since then, she finished her university degree and is working two jobs to pay off the debt that her deadbeat ex has saddled her with. She is raising three fantastic children and somewhere in there found the emotional fortitude to start dating again and weather all the pitfalls and heartbreaks that entails. I wish I had half of her determination and compassion.
Those are the awesome women in my family but there are so many others I know and I promise that I will celebrate them as this blog goes along. I learn from each fabulous woman every day and they help to keep me strong.
As for myself, I celebrated International Women’s Day in 2002 by giving birth to a 9 ½ pound baby boy. It was one of the happiest days in my life and as he gets older I am trying (and I really do think I’m succeeding) in making him a strong, compassionate, loving, man who will honour and respect the strong, amazing women who are already in, and who will come to be, in his life. To do any less would be a disservice to all those women who have made me the mother and woman I am today.