It’s International Women’s Day and every media outlet, small and large, has composed a list of successful, accomplished, famous personalities to honor. While I bow down to every one of them, (the women, not the media), I’d like to honor my own heroes.
1. A woman named Jo. Jo is the mother of three kids, recently divorced, working two jobs. She hardly sees them, but at night, they cuddle up in one big bed, she holds them tight, and thinks about how the tightness of their hugs and the warmth of their bodies makes her stronger.
2. A woman named Helen. Helen is in her mid-40s, she’s devoted her life to the career she always dreamed of, leaving little room for her mother’s dreams of a successful son-in-law and grandkids. Helen isn’t sure she’s made the right decision for her life, struggles with the idea that it may be to late to change anything, sometimes feels lonely and old, but is not willing to sacrifice the years hard work for anything.
3. A woman named Marie. Marie is as happily married as anyone can be, she has a good job that doesn’t take up her entire day, and she spends two months a year traveling with her husband. They’ve backpacked through Greece’s myriad of islands, they’ve been to New Zealand, South Africa and France. She’s an avid reader, an arts fan, her partner plays video games and drinks beer with his friends on weekends; it’s a typical textbook married life. Yet, sometimes she feels empty, like something is missing, and it’s not the lack of children that you’re all thinking, they’d decided long ago they wanted no kids, and still stand by their decision, so she can’t explain that void.
4. A woman named Kate. Kate is in her 80s. She has a lifetime of memories to look back on, smiling faces, warm hands, deep embraces, love, tears, grief, pain. She sits in her apartment and recalls it all, leafing through black and white photo albums, nodding at a memory of a moment, a time, laughing at a joke told then, eyes tearing in joy and sorrow. She knows so much more than all of us, yet she still has questions.
5. A woman named Laura. Laura is in her 30s and she came out to her friends and family two years ago. She ended her false marriage, started life anew, at an age where experience usually helps us along, though not in a foreign territory, with new rules, new boundaries. She hopes to find a partner, to explain to her kids that she’s lived a lie her entire life, she thinks they’ll understand. Till then, she waits.
These names aren’t real. They are not of actual people I can point at. But they are all of you, me, us. And definitely not limited to those five characters. We are the women that will probably never make it into a list that someone shares on social media, we won’t receive the Nobel, or the Purple Heart, or the Pulitzer. But we are still heroes, every day, in our homes, in our own very special stories. Don’t forget that. Happy Women’s Day to you all.