I’m not going to write anything special for International Women’s Day.
Instead, I’m going to write something unspecial, a simple recollection of the past week’s events here.
Wednesday, last week
I find Lainey at the kitchen table, watching a documentary on Eunice Shriver from my laptop. She has chosen her as the subject of her Hall of Americans project, due at the end of the year. I help her take notes, pausing the video so she can have time to write down Eunice’s accomplishments. We start and stop the video a number of times as Lainey’s pencil moves across the paper. “Pause it again,” she says as she copies the words on her page: Eunice Shriver turned her anger into a call for action. And again to copy the words Maria Shriver spoke about her mother: “When my uncle was president, he had one person just to manage all her ideas, all of her energy, all of the things that she wanted him to accomplish.”
I arrive at my friend’s house early in the morning to take photos of the scars from her recent surgery–the first step in a journey of big decisions and proactive healthcare after a positive BRCA test, a family history of breast cancer and a lifetime of fearing that what happened to women she loves could happen to her. We drink mimosas at her kitchen counter, and tears run down my cheeks as I listen to her stories–the hours of research she’s put in, the doubt that’s haunted her about life-altering choices and ultimately the strength she’s possessed as she’s made her decisions. We find the room with the best light, she slips out of her clothes and I click the shutter as she stands tall in the morning light and bares her scars. I offer no direction but take her lead. She raises her arm like Rosie the Riveter and makes a fist.
“Can you get a shot of my bracelets?” she asks.
I zoom in on the trio of bracelets hugging her left wrist, making sure the words are in focus: Trust the Journey. One Day at a Time. Breathe.
Before I leave, I hug her. “I’m so proud of you,” I tell her.
I hug her husband too. “I love how you are supporting her,” I tell him.
My living room swells with girls and their mamas, all in pajamas and wearing fancy jewels. We eat popcorn and laugh and hold up “Love It!” signs as Oscar nominees walk the red carpet on the television. We gush over necklines and hairstyles, comment on lipstick and heels and I make a mental note about how much fun it is to share silly things I love with my daughter. She disagrees with me on Nicole Kidman’s blue dress but we both think the silvery blue tulle on Emily Blunt is simply ethereal.
I start a new book about raising strong girls and finish 50 pages in one sitting. I’m startled to read things like “Is my daughter overweight?” was Googled 70% more times than “Is my son overweight?” last year. I highlight sentence after sentence, making promises to myself that I will model self acceptance and create a home environment that never equates success with perfection.
I run over to my neighbor’s to say hi and end up staying for a small celebration at her kitchen counter upon hearing news that the real estate deal she’s been working so hard on for months finally closed.
I publish a post about women friendship after interviewing my best friend.
I call my friend Claire to see if she’s nailed down a wedding date, but she can’t talk long because she’s in Washington D.C., speaking about grief. She texts me a photo of her standing next to Jon Stewart.
I call my sister for parenting advice.
My friend Liz launches her organization’s fourth 3-21 Pledge to raise money for people with Down syndrome to attend college. We talk briefly on the phone before she launches it.
“You ready to do this again?”
“I was born ready,” she says.
She started her organization five years ago with a little dream and, by the end of this year, will have raised over half a million dollars and awarded scholarships to more than 150 young people with big dreams. Read more here.
I text a mom at our school to see if we can borrow her daughter’s copy of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. She loved it so much she asked for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls II for her birthday last weekend–stories of extraordinary women from the past and present, changing history.
Later today, I have lunch plans with a new friend I met at a restaurant two weeks ago. She has a story I can’t wait to hear. She called me yesterday, warning me she would be interviewing me at lunch. “I’ll only tell you my story if you tell me yours too,” I told her.
There are extraordinary women all around us. They are running organizations, writing books, making lunches, rocking babies, running races, walking runways, holding hands. They are making headlines in our media, but more important, they are creating movements, changing lives and writing significant stories in their communities and in their homes.
Happy International Women’s Day, friends.
A few of my favorite things about women and by women:
- Please tell me you’ve read or watched this. I think it’s still the most relatable thing I’ve ever read about women.
- An old Women Crush Wednesday interview on hitting rock bottom, finding your voice and struggling as a single mom, from a woman who inspires me every day.
- This empowering print for a little girl’s room.
- Put this book on your coffee table, pick it up every night to read a passage, and you’ll soon have 200 more inspiring women’s stories under your belt.
- Or read a story from this book to your daughter every night, and you’ll have these stories tucked away together.