So it is International Women’s Day. I don’t think I ever previously knew such a day existed, but considering the planned Day Without a Woman, it has been on my mind a lot today.
I didn’t participate in the Day Without a Woman. There are multiple reasons for this, the least of which is that I couldn’t exactly tell my nursing babe that I was going on strike for the day. But honestly, it never even got to that level because I don’t feel my politics make me welcome and faith make me a candidate for such an event.
But like I said, the day has caused me to think. A lot. And regardless of any other outcomes, that’s good. I think we all need to think about the role of women in our society, and if we are women (which I assume possibly everyone reading this is) then we need to think about it for ourselves and determine what this label means to us.
What does it mean to be a woman?
This question causes me some anxiety because I am raising four future women. When I think about my girls, there are some things that I feel confident about.
I feel confident that I can give them a good moral foundation.
I feel confident that I can help them succeed academically.
I feel confident that I can help them learn how to be a good friend and a good person.
But giving them a model of womanhood… that feels more daunting because at 39 years old, it’s not something I quite have a handle on.
But if forced to come up with an answer (as, indeed, we all are) I would have to say that for me, I think being a woman is about living for other people. It’s about recognizing our gifts, developing our gifts, and then it’s about giving them away for the service of others.
I think it’s about bolstering other people up, being the foundation from which others can rise.
It’s about finding what we excel at, and it’s about excelling at it. Not just because it’s fun or because it feeds our ego, but also (and more importantly) because it moves the world further along a path to fulfillment and development and equality.
I think being a woman is about finding the vulnerable in the people around us, and it’s about using our strengths to fill in those gaps. It’s about plugging holes and reinforcing weak spots.
Being a woman is about noticing where we are vulnerable, and it’s about embracing that vulnerability. Not because it’s easy but because it helps us be open to the pain in the world around us.
Being a woman is about using our hurt and our pain and our suffering and letting it soften our edges and open our hearts to the suffering.
And it’s about being loud or quiet, gentle or rough, weak or strong, funny or serious. All those things – the external things – those are ours to make of it as we will.
There is no single definition to womanhood because no two woman are alike. We are free to take the calling and do with it what we will. We are given the opportunity to blossom and thrive where we are as we are, and as we do, each of us adds a little bit to the definition and makes it so much more vibrant and alive than it could have ever been without us.
Many people might disagree with different aspects of my definition. That’s great. Surely I’m not the authority to decide what it is that a woman should be.
But that’s what it means to me.
And twenty some years from now, there will be four more little women walking the streets of the world, and I’ll look to see how they have defined womanhood. I’m excited to spend the next couple of decades watching them figure it all out.
And that’s where I find my strength – knowing that the lessons I learn today will help provide an example for them to follow tomorrow.