Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Strength of Sisterhood

I was raised by two amazingly strong women. One is my Mom. The other is my sister. I truly had no choice but to become a strong woman myself. If you spent any time at all with either of these two, you know why I say this.

Each of these women have served as my confidant over the years. Beware old boyfriends, I was one of those girls who told her mother everything. Well, maybe not everything, but pretty darn close. She was always someone I could turn to and speak honestly to. She never judged me. She never told me what to do. Instead she wisely listened and gently guided me. As for my sister, she and I have a relationship which has evolved over time. In the last decade we have become best friends, but she was always a woman of great strength and I spent much of my life looking up to her.

I got thinking tonight of how many other incredibly strong women I have met in my lifetime. When I was just eight years old I met a classmate who to this day is still my best friend. Befriending Cheryl was meant to be. We challenged each other and butted heads off and on for years, but respected one another for the strong girls we always were. Another close friend of mine from my childhood is Ann Marie. She too has an independent nature and a stubborn streak but is a woman of great core values. And yes, I love her with all my heart. In college I met Sharon, another strong woman who taught me much about faith. And in graduate school there was Leslie and a professor named India who were unlike any other women I'd ever met before. When I first became a teacher I had Jean, Gail, Joanne, Michelle, Susan, and Sue by my side. A little of each of them shaped me in my professional career. Jeanna, another fellow teacher, is an amazing and generous friend. I'd be lost without her. And if I had more time, I could easily list a long record of all the students whose fortitude ended up teaching me greater lessons about life than I ever thought imaginable.

In recent years I have continued to find strong women. A few, like Jo, Shari, Dawn, Nancy, and Kate, I met at a summer writing institute. Some that I've gotten to know better in recent years are within my own family-- Lisa, Barbara, Michele, and Ashleigh. Others are from my community such as Wanda and more recently Binaca, or from my hometown as are Peggy and Gina. I could never list them all. I will forever be grateful to the women in my life. If it were not for them, I would not be who I am today.

My Mom used to warn me of wearing my heart on my sleeve. I have to chuckle over that now, for although I completely understand her concern, I don't wish to wear my heart anywhere else. All of the women in my life have taught me that women can be different yet complement one another perfectly. In the end our strength and our solidarity reward us. Without the women of my past I would not have had the strength, the wisdom, or the faith needed to raise my own two daughters to be the amazing souls that they are. So thank you to all you women out there. And to you men? I'll be addressing you another day; don't you worry about that. But in the meantime, thanks for loving us women. For as strong as we are, we still need you.

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