International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day—a day to celebrate women, but also to call attention to the fact that women are still “poorer and less powerful than men in every country in the world” (UN report, “Progress of the World’s Women 2011: In Pursuit of Justice”). So it’s a good day to think about this, and to do something—however small—to change it. A day to celebrate, appreciate, the women in your community. A day to support an organization like womenforwomen.org, or this one, http://www.ssekodesigns.com/, or to support a campaign like this one, which supports African grandmothers of children orphaned by AIDS. So many wonderful organizations out there to support—and so many women in our lives to support too. If you can, make a woman in your life a meal today, or call them on the phone…. Or ask someone to make a meal for you. That’s a revolutionary act, too. Perhaps even more so. It’s certainly a harder thing to do. Why should it be?

Today is a good day to remember that the difference between “International Women’s Day” and “International Woman’s Day” is far more than semantic. As soon as we move from woman to women, we move from isolation to community, from the personal to the personal-political.

I spent a good part of my daughter J’s babyhood and toddlerhood pining for the community of other moms—and especially mom-writers and mom-artists, (because I had no idea how that hyphenation happened, became real)—until I finally figured out that if I wanted to have that kind of community I was going to have to create it. And that meant a lot of trial and error, plenty of ego mortification (because other than the wonderful group of women I met through my public health centre’s New Moms group, Mom-and-baby groups are NOT for me!), and ultimately a willingness to accept what I have as well as what I don’t have, to look for what I want/need, and to cherish what arises.

Who Does She Think She Is?

Part of the solution for me was finding writer Marita Dachsel’s blog with its series of interviews with writer-mothers. I actually wrote to her out of the blue and asked her to have coffee with me sometime, I was so desperate for connection (so you see, all that ego mortification had some positive effects). Part of it, also, was finding and reading books like Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (which I plan to write more about on this blog sometime soon). And part of the solution came when I discovered this fabulous film, Who Does She Think She Is, by Pamela Tanner Boll. It came out the year J was born and I remember seeing it at the Metro cinema on a hot day in August while Jonathan carried little J around Sir Winston Churchill Square, the two of them sniffing every flower in every planter while they waited. It was a complete and utter revelation. I remember looking around at everyone else in the theatre and knowing that they, too, had needed to see this film. And not having any idea how to talk to any of them about it, strangers as they were. But wanting to, desperately.

I came out of the dark theatre, stunned by the light and heat of the day, with new hope, new belief, new questions. Even if you don’t need this film as desperately as I did then, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful way to begin what is a completely essential conversation, about how to be a mother and an artist (or “and” whatever else it is that you are).

I think I’m going to try to watch this film again today. It’s been a while. The International Women’s Day theme for 2012 is “Connecting Girls / Inspiring Futures”—so maybe I’ll let J watch it with me.

But first, I’m off to take the munchkins to my sister-in-law’s place. Because today’s a good day to remember that old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”–a good day to remember how much harder these things are in isolation, and how they don’t always have to be as hard as they sometimes are.

It’s a good day, too, to celebrate the village I have, the women in my life, for whom I am deeply grateful.

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