Women Must

Today is International Women’s Day and, not surprisingly, I have a few thoughts.

womens-Day-Poetry

 

  1. Women must support one another. That does not mean that they need to agree. Nor must they see eye to eye on politics or breastfeeding or working outside the home or any, any, anything else.  Making the same choices as one another: not a requirement.  Support means being there for her in good and bad, even if it is just to provide the chocolate. Support, don’t judge.  Be kind.  Remember what we teach our children: if you have nothing nice to say, shut the fuck up.
  2. Women must not compare themselves to other women. I know, I know.  I do it all the time.  I am so bad; in fact, that I have been known to ask people “Am I as (fill in the blank) as that stranger in line or “does my (fill in the blank) look like hers?”  Added for clarity: it is usually always a negative question.  File under: things to keep working on.
  3. Women must put themselves in positions where they feel safe, cherished and protected. Men should, too. Life is hard.  Surround yourself with people who make things joyful, crack you up and allow you to be you more often than not.[1]
  4. Women must be comfortable in their own skin. I’m not sure if this is altogether different from #2, but regardless, let’s try to do that, ladies.  I’ve been 5’6” since I was eleven years old, at which time I was considered really tall, as in: way taller than 99% of my classmates. I hated it. I never grew another millimeter since then[2], but still feel the feels of standing in the back row for every single class picture ever and being taller than all the boys and the girls. It didn’t help matters that my first husband was the tallest person in his family…and he was my height. I admit to feeling silly even mentioning it, but we can’ts help how we feels. (Aside: the “I am too tall” complaint has garnered exactly no sympathy from my 5’ tall mother…)
  5. Women must feel good – read: not guilty – when they treat themselves to things. Why?  Because I am 100% certain that they’ve earned it.  Take me, for example.  I never seldom buy anything “fancy” for myself.[3]  That’s not to say I don’t like a few fancy things here and there…I just thought that the only way I deserved to have it was in the form of a gift.  I shattered that illusion last week when I bought myself the one thing I had been jonesing for: an Apple Watch.  And, guess what?  I love love love it.  I stopped dropping hints – I may have instructed the kids to tell Barry that the only thing I want for my birthday is an Apple Watch – and just did it for myself.[4]  I am woman, hear me roar.
  6. Women must have girlfriends. I suppose you will have an easier time with this if you master number 1.  And numbers 2, 3 and 4.  I adore my husband.  He’s wonderful in so many ways and for so many reasons.  However, despite his excellent cooking, cleaning and laundry skills, and the fact that I can tell him anything – including things he really doesn’t want to know – he is still a guy.  I’ve made some great girlfriends in my new community, but I miss many of my old girlfriends.  We were with one another through boyfriends,high school, college, boyfriends, break ups, engagements, weddings, kids, marriages, illnesses, divorces, jobs and deaths.  I only speak for myself in saying that I could never have done all those things without my girlfriends.

 

So, ladies, celebrate the day with yourself and your girlfriends in the most supportive, non-comparing, safe, comfortable and guilt-free way you can.

p.s. I am pretty certain that International Women’s Day has a broader meaning and hopes for a further reach than my little bullet points, but, well, whatever.

p.p.s. I am going to be spending this evening at a special screening of “Pretty in Pink” with Jess…because nothing says International Women’s Day like a Molly Ringwald flick.

[1] My husband fits that bill.  Better than half the time.

[2] In fact, I think I might be getting to that age when I start shrinking.  Dear lord.

[3] Fancy is important here.  I am pretty darn good about treating myself to manicures, massages and anything available at Marshall’s.  Or TJ Maxx.

[4] Full disclosure: I did not make this empowering decision on my own.  I happen to have a dear friend who, lucky for me, happens to be a therapist.  She made told me to do it.  One of the many never-ending reasons I love her.

Advertisements

Let’s Talk

I have four kids.  I have eleven nieces and nephews.  The youngest of the bunch is 11, the oldest 28.  I’ve also been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my kids’ friends, from when they were little right through college. My point: I’ve spent some time with kids. My conclusion: Every one of those kids wants and/or needs to talk about what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, 2018.  Every. One. Of. Them.

And so do their parents.

And grandparents.

And neighbors.

And friends.

And teachers.  Definitely teachers.

Parkland is no different from the town that I live in: an affluent beach community where the schools are highly ranked and parents, if even subconsciously, enjoy – and share with their children – the fact  illusion that, by virtue of where they live, they have earned an extra layer of protection.  It’s a fair and, in many ways, true assessment.  But that comfortable, incorruptible life has been shattered and talking about it is not only an option, but a responsibility.

silent

Jess, a high school sophomore, shared with me that not only has there been no conversation at school, but student attempts to start a dialogue, or even a monologue, have been shut down.  In fact, during the first Advisory meeting following the massacre – and, let there be no mistaking the fact that it was nothing short of a massacre – the topic on the “long planned” agenda was, and I wish I were making this up, “what makes our high school special?”

Guess what?  Our high school isn’t special.  Despite the prestige of being “highly ranked” and having more amenities than schools in less affluent areas it is just as vulnerable, perhaps more, as any school anywhere.  And the kids know it.  In fact, there is a real case to be made that it is the middle- to upper middle class communities at the greatest danger – due not only to the bubble in which we live, but to the unwillingness and inability to talk about the elephant in the room.  You know…the one with the assault rifle.

With each mass shooting comes a deeper fear, a more intense anger, a greater need to talk and a need to achieve the impossible: understand.  Kids are scared.  Parents are beside themselves.  Grandparents do not recognize this world.  And teachers should all be receiving pay raises and Medals of Honor for what they do.

I subscribe to the thinking that we are not raising children, but raising adults.  When we obstruct communication around things that make us anxious or angry or uncomfortable (the birds and the bees talk, anyone?) we do our children a disservice.  Nothing ever went away because no one talked about it.  It is time to stop protecting these rising adults from the truths of the big, bad world.  Actually, that time arrived about five school shootings ago.

Our children -aka the decision-makers, game-changers and leaders of the future –deserve better.  Talk to your kids, but, more to the point, let them talk to you.