Today, Barbara’s message for International Women’s Day was perfect too. ‘Must have been a woman who came up with the term ‘Make Love Not War.’
I bet Barbara’s right. Like her, I always expect women (and girls) are behind most good things in the universe. Not all by a longshot. But, most likely, more than we’re given credit for.
It’s International Women’s Day, but I’ll let other people wax on today about all the great contributions women have made to the universe and how women continue to struggle in deplorable conditions around the world. I’m choosing to set my sights a little closer to home.
I’d like to honour and pay a collective tribute to all the wonderful women who have been in my life since I was a little girl and remain by my side today. I have been blessed, and I doubt there’s a day that goes by that I don’t thank my lucky clichéd stars. I plan to raise a glass of a nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tonight when I meet the wonderful and forgiving women in my book club. Why forgiving? Because no one has read the assigned book. We still want to be with each other, though. That’s part of the wonderful.
When I was little, I distinctly remember asking my father why women didn’t stop all the wars in the world. “They just have to tell their husbands to stop fighting or they won’t be nice to them.” My dad probably didn’t know the ancient Greek story of Lysistrata or didn’t mention it because it has the word sex in it, but it would have been appropriate. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace.
Years later, when seeing the Godfather, I wondered the same thing. Why didn’t all these Mafia guys’ wives just tell them to get a day job or don’t bother coming home to my gnocchi.
My naivete had its roots. Though I had a critical mother, she was dutiful and loving in her own way. I had two doting and loving sisters and the bestest of friends from the time I was able to make them. That hasn’t changed. My female family members and friends mean the world to me and I wouldn’t want to live in the world without them. I can’t bear the thought that I may someday have to.
My middle sister’s piano playing taught me to love classical music, and even today, when I hear Claire de Lune, I think back to the childhood years I listened to her play the damn piece non-stop, even while I was in bed trying to fall asleep, until she got it perfect. She did, and now have only good memories everytime I hear the piece played.
My oldest sister has always been an inspiration in my life. “I want to be just like you when I grow up,” has always been my motto regarding this sister. I’ve never come close, though. I have never in my life known anyone besides her to so successfully devote her life to becoming a ‘better,’ and ‘more loving’ person, and still have so much fun. An honourable and noteworthy combination of attributes as far as I’m concerned.
And my girlfriends. It would be shallow if the first thing I mention about them is the fact that they make far superior dance partners than any man I’ve been with, including my beloved husband. But its true. This is no small thing. So yes, I’m shallow.
What else do my girlfriends do? They listen to me ad nauseum when I go on and on about my life, my husband, my children, my jobs, my no jobs, my frizzy hair, increasingly growing hatred of winter as well as waistline. They make me laugh, teach me how to garden, take photographs, be a good person. They lend me books, tell me about good sales. Many know I love anything that comes in close contact with a lemon. All know I’m a sucker for home baking and make sure I get some. They always seem to say the right things when I need them to, and even when they don’t get it right, I can see they’re trying, which is almost as good.
A few of the chosen will even go clothes shopping with me and give honest opinions when I ask ‘does this look good on me’. They’re not quite as brutal, in a good way, as my mother was, but they’ll generally give an honest opinion to the question “Does my ass look big in this?”
I am blessed to still have two close friends who have known me for over forty year, going back to my childhood years in Detroit. How lucky can I get? They knew my parents and like to be kept up-to-date on my sisters and other members of my extended family. Since coming to Canada, I’ve made other great girlfriends. Besides being great company, they show interest in my husband and children. They know it means the world to me.
And finally, I will paraphrase the great Sally Fields, “They love me, they really love me.” It can’t always be easy.
My 21 year-old daughter is getting together with two girlfriends this evening. She hasn’t seen them in awhile, and I don’t think it has anything to do with International Women’s Day. If she even knew about it, it didn’t seem to resonate in any obvious way.
Before she left the house this morning, I asked her to come upstairs. Though I don’t normally give her spending money, I opened my purse and pulled out a $20 bill to buy a few goodies for her and her friends tonight. “Celebrate your friendship” with it, I said along with a few scintillating words on the subject which would, on any other day, make her want me to shut up right then and there. But instead, she lit up, partially because she had a crisp new $20 bill in her hands, but also because she loved the idea of buying some treats. “Yeah, they’ve been great friends.”
It’s obvious. I think women are special. I know the women in my life are special, have always been and will continue to be. So, I know it’s a little early, but I’d like to pretend I already have that glass of Sauvignon Blanc in my hand, raise it, and give a toast to all the wonderful women and girls in my life. My BFFs.