I’ve been traveling lately with Magali, who works with me. She’s 25, I’m 48, and we both look a little younger than we are. We’re two businesswomen traveling together – and we are still surprised each time at what she calls “creepers” making the unnecessary comments.
At the airport lounge: “Oh, so you’re the young intern?” He continued with a string of ridiculous commentary reserved for us simply because we’re women. And so our trip began…
Each time, I end up thinking, “Really, guys? Can you not see us as businesswomen? Does it always have to be something about appearances or what we wear?” I keep hoping for a playing field where what we wear is not the biggest news of the day. Can you imagine the commentary on the male politicians? “He wore a dark suit and red tie.” But Hillary and Sarah were photographed, commented about, and reviewed as much for “her salmon colored pantsuit” than what either of them had to say.
Early in my marriage, I lived in the shadow of my husband’s career. Decisions were made many times, with me certainly going along, for his career. Why? It just was the way it was 28 years ago when we started our life together. He was the one with the career. I was the wife. I often felt left out, without purpose beyond mothering (which I loved, but knew was not forever), and wondering why my options seemed so much more difficult.
One day, it was time to start something of my own and I remember clearly watching my foot swing out of the minivan and hesitate before it hit the ground as I headed into an interview for a job I got – which taught me I had so much ahead of me. Thank you to Jennifer Skurnowicz who saw a spark and gave me a chance to learn and grow. I still have friends and connections from that job, and learned so much from day one. Women held top positions in the company and were treated with respect.
My grandmas were both incredibly strong women, who pushed the mark in their own ways. One, Anna, raised the kids almost solely by herself while her evangelist husband traveled endless miles preaching. She was a dog-breeder, chicken farmer, greenhouse-owner and more, in a time when women didn’t work outside the home.
The other, Sovilla, raised a large, extended family with so much love and grace that even now, among all her descendants, there are solid families all over the nation…who take family seriously and still work hard to hold things together….stubbornly, just like granny.
I remember a woman preacher that used to come to one of our churches. People used to say they liked her, but why does she act so much like a man? Then another one who came was very vibrant and feminine…but they thought she overshadowed her quieter husband.
Good grief. It’s tricky business, this being a woman.
In my life, I’ve lived through the very public and heated argument of should women work? or stay home? (I’ve done both). Who cooks? Who mows the lawn? Who cares? My daughters don’t have those same issues to deal with. We’re finally past that stage – – you live your life how it works for you right now. The dishes will get done.
For many of the years I was struggling to find my role, I watched Hillary Clinton…it makes me sad when I hear people say they hate her – so often, with a vengeance. For me, she represents more than just her politics. She represents a person who gets up, again and again, and keeps on trying. She represents a woman who just won’t quit. A woman who loves her husband and daughter, in spite of what anyone has to say about either of them. Whatever your thoughts on her politics – she gets life.
So, a tribute to some women I know who keep on keeping on…
My neice, Kristina. Keep on going, girl. You will do it. Those 3 girls are lucky to have you.
My neice, Lisa. A young doctor, with a clear goal in mind. Broke a few boy’s hearts along the way, I’m sure.
My friend, Twila. First and only child in her family of 9 children to go to college. She now teaches at the college level.
My friend, Kim, a breast-cancer survivor who walked 60 miles with me to help find a cure.
My cousin, Jan, who after raising her own kids is raising her grandkids with the same love and energy she had 25 years ago.
My friend, Alison. All women would be proud to do half of what you do. Career, family, and amazing community member.
My friend, Carol. Married over 40 years by what she calls stubborn commitment. More hours of service to her community and church in a year than I will do in a lifetime.
My sister, Carol. After home-schooling all 3 kids, went back to college to get her masters degree in math at age 50, now writing curriculum.
My Mom, Clara. Always found something amazing to put her hand to no matter where life took her – she has a way of creating happiness everywhere she goes.
And my daughters:
Joanna – who once broke up with a boy who had no plan for his life only to laugh as he said, “but I was going to marry you!”
Whitney – who has so much talent and many open doors – and she’s clear about one thing – she’ll be the one making the choices.
Braelyn – who at 16 had no qualms about telling our employees they will work for her someday and can sit across the table from one of our area’s most successful entrepreneurs and pitch her idea without a mere tremble.
I watched Hillary’s concession speech with some sadness…and yet, I feel hopeful that she’s right. It will no longer be remarkable in America for a woman to be president. Or anything else for that matter. People said from the beginning – not sure if America is “ready” for a woman leader. But they must not know America very well – no one can deny the millions of votes she acquired.
So, to all these women (and to Hillary) thank you for never giving up – I can see the ceiling cracking.