and as I think about the mothers in my life it makes me think back to stories about my Grandmother that I learned a few years ago.
Now, not my favorite Grandma. Because I do have a favorite. My Mom’s Mom was one of my favorite people on earth and an integral part of my childhood. And her cinnamon rolls still haunt me. In a good way.
But, no, I’m talking about the grandmother who I feel like I barely knew. The one that I didn’t really get. The one that, in all honesty, I was embarrassed of while I was growing up. She was ridiculously tough. Smart as a whip. Very few teeth. Pretty eccentric. To say she was a character is an understatement.
Then, she had a life-changing stroke. One that made her unable to recognize me anymore. I was only 9 at the time, so I came to mostly resent how this affected my family.
In the quiet moments over the last couple of years, my Dad has shared stories of this tough, eccentric lady who would walk everywhere (miles and miles even at age 83), lived in an old, dilapidated, farmhouse on a farm that she ran mostly on her own, as my grandfather was away traveling the world. WHILE raising three sons. In these stories:
I learned how hard she worked running a farm, raising kids as an unofficial single mom, and teaching full-time.
I learned how rough her life was as a child having to leave her mother after their father abandoned them, and her Mother couldn’t take care of them.
I learned how just how tough most her life was, and how it never really got easier.
The more and more I have learned, the more I am proud that I am her granddaughter.
The embarrassment and resentment I had as a child is gone. All I see now is how hard she had to fight to just live her life. Raise a family. Put food on the table and clothe her children. Try to live a different story than her own mother who had to abandon her own children.
It also makes me think of my own Mother who has had her own struggles of finding her footing as a woman, mother and teacher over the last 70+ years. Finding her own voice over the years after not really having the chance to develop one as a child.
And I sit back and think about my life, and see the silly stories that show up in my newsfeed on facebook and in women’s magazines, well…it makes me embarrassed.
Embarrassed over the not very important things I spend my time worrying about. My weight, not liking my clothes right now, the small details of my business, etc. The pretty pathetic list goes on and on.
And in all honesty as I look around, it makes me a little embarrassed for all of us. To know how hard our mothers and grandmothers fought for us and how much I look around and still see so much fear.
We keep ourselves in prisons of perfection, scared to fail and thinking that we will be judged by some invisible peanut gallery. We worry that if we get out of our comfort zones and try new things, they might not work out the way we hoped. They won’t live up to our unrealistic expectations. We might have to feel real life feelings that food, wine and Netflix can’t numb away.
My Grandmother didn’t have time to worry about being judged or failing. She had to put food on the damn table! She had a farm to run!
So, including myself in the conversation, I want to ask you, what the hell are we doing here, ladies?
Why are we spending our days consuming unreal reality television, filtering the shit out of Instagram pictures, comparing ourselves to every other woman we know (and don’t) and shaming ourselves when we don’t measure up to our imaginary story about their lives? Aren’t we better than this?
Didn’t our foremothers fight for us to have lives where we didn’t have to live so much in fear?
We need to stop the shame and blame and push ourselves out our comfort zones to start living with purpose.
Having the bigger conversations that our mothers and grandmothers were not able to have. We need to do the self-work to not make the same mistakes. We need to break our family chains.
Because of my mother, grandmothers and all the women before them, I get to have a different story. A different path. I get to run a business I love. I get to have a relationship built on partnership. I get to travel and see the beauty of this world. The list of luxuries goes on and on.
And honestly we owe them more than the silly shit that we are focusing on day after day. We owe them for:
The 18 hour days they put in.
The voices that were not heard.
The walls they were up against again and again.
We can not take for granted the centuries of struggle we’ve been through to get to the place we are today. I know we have a ways to go, but so much of that starts with us.
So I ask you to start here. This Mother’s Day, sit down with your mother and collect the stories of your past generations. Listen to the struggles, the triumphs, the obstacles and the celebrations. Write them down or record them for your possible future generations.
Then I ask you to sit down and get bold. If you don’t like your life, change it! In 2016 we have the resources, tools and support systems in place to slowly start making our lives better. For us and the women of the future. Are we going to be the generation who had opportunities and chose to stay scared? Because getting out of our comfort zones is scary?
No, the Depression was scary. The Black Plague was scary. You going after a different job is not really scary. Rejection does not kill you. Hunger and disease does.