Today is International Woman’s Day, I read Cecily’s post and I had to steal her idea. I like the idea of celebrating all women and their struggles not the greeting card holiday of Mother’s Day. Politically in this country it is a weird time to be a woman. Many of the rights we have gained over our bodies and reproduction are in jeopardy with amendments about personhood being presented in many states. Laws like these will effect so many women including women who are pursuing infertility treatments. I have so many friends who built their families through assisted reproduction and I feel protective of their rights. These laws make it harder to terminate a pregnancy and get pregnant with assistance. As I would say to my kids, it is not ok. Women need to have a choice over their lives.
I want to celebrate this day about talking about the strong women in my family who blazed trails. I have an Aunt who was born in 1923 a mere three years after women gained the right to vote, who is 89 and alive and well. She was the first woman bank examiner for the state of New York. She went on vacation to Canada in the 50′s and got pregnant. She married her mountain man lover, my Uncle Lucien and they raised my cousin Denise and her adopted brother Michael. Aunt Clarabell was always an independent sort. After her husband died she traveled all over the US and Canada in her 60′s and 70′s like a nomad with her dog. I remember Thorazine, my band, coming to her neck of the woods. She delighted in marching the punk band relatives from the states all over the sleepy ski town where she lived. I saw her last at my fathers funeral. I have always adored that woman. I am the youngest cousin on my fathers side and she still calls me, “little one”.
My Mother is not a warm fuzzy person but she is inspirational in her own way. She was born a mere 13 years after women won the right to vote. She married my Dad in 1951 when she was 18 years old. She had my sister in 1952. She has told me that at that time you graduated high school, got married, and had children. It was what was supposed to happen. She was not a fan of motherhood and I am sure that if she was born in the 1960′s or later she would be a wild proponent of the childfree movement. Instead she had my next sister in 1957 and right before she was going to start working again, she had me in 1967. When I was five she went back to work. She hated working in an office and had a difficult time typing because of her learning disabilities that has made reading hard for her her whole life. Instead she went into sales, eventually selling postal uniforms and working for herself till she was 75 years old. She and my Dad remained married till my Father died in 2010. It wasn’t always chocolate and roses for them but they had a partnership that I still admire. My Mom is still fiercely independent. She drives her elderly friends here and there. Heck, she drove to see me and my sister in Pennsylvania on Thanksgiving from New York. She travels to Florida yearly as a snowbird. I adore her spunk. When I bought a new car she asked to drive it and see what it had under the hood.
She raised fierce women. She told us to learn to depend on ourselves and if we got married we should always be able to support ourselves. She told me that children were a choice not a given. My oldest sister was one of the first five female pharmaceutical reps in the US. My other sister was a Vice President for Chase-Manhattan Bank during endless merges. Then there is me. I was never as classically successful as my sisters but I have kicked ass in my own way.
I am lucky I am surrounded by many kick ass, smart, hard working, successful women daily who are so inspiring I could write endless blog posts about them. I don’t have female children but I am doing my best to teach my boys that women can be amazing. They live in a world where the female garbage collectors spoil them by letting them learn how to use the controls to smash the trash. I remember Ryan once telling me that girls can’t rock as hard as boys when he was about four years old. I showed him his mother onstage kicking ass, I showed him other women who kick ass. He still regularly tell me that girls can rock as hard as boys no matter what. Sigh, yes indeed my son.