A story I have meant to write and share:
Recently, a friend coined marriage as a ‘life accomplishment’ – I shook my head in distaste and disagreement. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘accomplishment’,” I replied frankly, “Societal definition maybe, but not mine.” I recalled another conversation we had not long ago about my regular pattern of staying late in the office alone.
“Aren’t you afraid of the contractors?” She’d asked. “A woman alone…” After-work hours were when renovation work would be carried out. “Never crossed my mind,” I replied honestly, surprised this question was even asked.
This again brought me back to yet another conversation with a different friend who, at the time, expressed empathy towards a mutual friend for her struggles as a female professional with the whole package. “The struggles she must bear,” she said with a kind tone. I remember wondering if I’m less of a person for never having this thought cross my mind. “Not to belittle our friend’s scenario,” I answered bluntly, “But I know many women – raised by one – in similar situation… and they roll with it. They float. They make do. I’m not saying it’s any less difficult and I can’t pretend to understand – but the difference with these women… they don’t victimize themselves. They persevere without turning their predicament into headlines.”
In each instance, I was reminded of my mother, and realized what a privilege it is to be born and raised by such a woman: unafraid of her own brilliance. My brand of normal naturally came from my mother, who made it utterly normal for women to work full-time yet do many other things, often simultaneously. This is she who raised daughters to whom until adulthood it genuinely never once crossed their minds to think and feel inferior in a roomful – hell, industry – of men, nor to define accomplishments by societal standards. This is a woman who shines in her own light – whether alone or in a roomful of men (or women) is irrelevant because true to character, to act otherwise is a mockery unto herself.
I have a new press photo of her – I would like to say it was taken at perfect timing, but the truth is, that’s just her being in her element – standing at the center with her hands outstretched. At 66, her light is brilliant and bright as ever.
I would not expect anything less.