Dear young women in my life:
I am mainly writing to the young women in my life that bring me joy everyday of their lives. I am writing to my two daughters that are beginning their journey into womanhood. For my eldest daughter that is 18 years old and in her first year of university and her sweet, sweet friends that are either in university or completing a ‘victory’ lap to build a bigger portfolio for the arts programs of their dreams.
This is also for my teenage daughter that is in the thick of it, in Grade 10 of high school trying hard to manoeuvre all that is boys, sports and school. It is also for my older nieces that have finished university or are just about to finish university. It is for my niece that has started to find the path that she so desperately sought which would encompass her love of animals and their overall well being. Some of these life lessons are still images in the distance for my youngest niece that has just begun high school. They are lessons that she too will learn, all in due course. All of these teens and young women are certainly more confident in finding their way in the world than I or their mother’s were many moons ago but they still all have a few wrinkles to iron out.
To you young ladies I bow before you in awe of your beauty, your talents, your brawn and your brains. You are all, oh, so very different, yet all are determined to make your unique mark on life. You all have goals and ambitions that will not be quelled or ignored. You are all so very close in age yet, unquestioningly, at different stages of your development and maturity. You are all both fearless and fearful at once.
To all of you, I wish nothing but grace and love. Grace is not something that you find in a book, on an podcast or on YouTube. Grace is the ability to find goodness, peace and comfort in everything that you do and with everyone that you meet. You may not be there yet, because now, yes, right now, you are still finding the roads to health, happiness and fortune. You may not have found a need to seek that elusive path to Grace but you will. You certainly will because one day you will seek it out and you’ll be happy to see it and recognize the beauty that is Grace.
You are in a point in time when the world is not a complete mystery to you but there are so very many things that you have yet to do. There are places that you have not travelled to. Girlfriends you have not bonded with. Boyfriends and lovers you have not met… yet.
There are challenges you have yet to conquer that will make you stronger more confident women. Please know that strength may come at a price. A toll you have to pay. A road you have to travel. It is these challenges that will break your heart. It will make you wish you have never lived. Don’t be surprised one day, one hard fought day, in which you find yourself contemplating the value of your worth. It will come, we have all had that moment when we’ve wonder: “What’s the point? What am I doing with my life?”
I think to myself that there is still so much that you need to learn about life, relationships and being the women you were meant to be. I want(ed) to teach you as much as I can (could) but I know, I am constantly reminded, that these are your lessons to learn. Your path to blaze. Your mistakes to make. I have known since the day you were born, my sweet daughters, that I would have to let go of you one day.
As a mother and an aunt, it is never easy to just sit back and watch as your lives unfurl before my eyes. Thankfully, there have been no ‘train wrecks’ to bounce back from. You have all managed to stay out of trouble and more importantly, out of harm’s way. I am thankful, we are thankful everyday. But we wonder. We often wonder what will be around the corner, what lurks in the shadows. “Nothing” I tell myself, to calm the voice of worry in my head. “We’ve taught them well” and “They’ll make the right choices” we assert to each other as we speak about each and everyone of you when we touch base.
As a mother, I want to help guide the way so that you don’t have to feel the hurt or the pain of living in today’s complicated world. It is not easy to manoeuvre the age of selfies, sexting, revenge-porn and shaming. It is the reality of owning your sexuality in 2015. They are words and actions that you think I did not go through because there was a limited amount of internet threats to navigate. But we had our own burdens to bare just with differing degrees of complexity and definition.
You think your grandmothers did not go through these issues of defining the meaning of being a woman but for them, there were different issues that defined their version of ‘living in these modern times.’ They grew up post-WWI in the giddy days of 1950’s Leave it to Beaver and Mad Men-esque expectations. Their issues of re-defining the role of women in the home and at work are still struggles that we face on a daily basis. As we women work our way through life, we have all found it a struggle to find our feminine voice (and by feminine, I don’t mean a girly or seductive voice) I mean the voice that is universal to all women. The voice that defines who we are. What is fundamentally in our DNA. What defines our sex.
We will always be in the role of daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt and family matriarch. Some cannot or opt to not have children but as child bearers, we hold the key to life within us because we are the only ones of our race that can gestate and give life. Yes, we are in need of that male element to procreate but it is up to us to bring those children into this world. The miracle of life is, I hope, still a ways away for all of you. That conversation is for different letter at later time.
Right now you are all about what defines you personally as a woman.
What defines you are not words such as beautiful, fragile, bitchy or fierce. Words that are offensive also do not define who you are as a woman. As you begin to explore your sexual being, remember you are not bitches or a biotch, a ho or a whore, a slut, a butch or a dyke or a …. word I will never use or print or write or say. Words that society throws around carelessly without merit or justification. You are none of those words and to be clear, those words will not define you. They may be words that you will hear: out loud or in a whispered conversation. They may be said by the one that you love in anger or rage. They may be said with jealousy or in envy. They may also be said in jest and in play (though that is a form of humour I have yet to understand).
Let me be very clear: You are the captains of your destiny. The women of tomorrow and our collective future. Go boldly, bravely with some trepidation but with the knowledge that all the women before you applaud your every effort. Support your fledgling attempts to build the life that is waiting for you.
You are LOVED. A.LOT.
We, your mothers and grandmothers, are here to assist (guide, mentor, cajole) you in finding your feminine way through life in 2015.
You own your body.
You define yourself.
You steer your destiny.
You are the reason we continue to celebrate International Women’s Day.
I salute you.
I applaud you.
I support you.
I adore you.
I love you.
For as long as I shall live.
Hugs and Kisses
Your Mother, Your Aunt, Your Friend.