I know many incredible and inspiring women. For starters, I was raised by one. And my parents’ mothers are another two. The family I was born into and the family I married into is home to them. I’ve gone to school or church with them, worked for and with them, and had them as clients. It would take me days to write about every inspiring woman I know! So for International Women’s Day, I’d like to tell you about three, though I have chosen to withhold names.
X is a single mother. Every morning, she walks her rambunctious daughter to daycare, about half a mile. From there she walks further to the bus stop where she waits for her less than glamorous ride to work. She works a fast-paced job that’s hard on her body, especially her back. After hours of that, she then she gets on the bus, walks to the daycare, and walks home, with her daughter chatting her ears off. Every day she does this, rain or snow, 100 degrees or 5 degrees. She entertains her daughter, listens to Frozen song renditions unless she can hardly take it, cooks their dinner, goes crazy trying to put that spunky kid of hers to bed, and wakes up to do it all again the next day. She loves, protects, and works for her daughter with a ferocity I hope to achieve when I have kids of my own. Without getting too much into her personal life, I can at least tell you she has seen the unthinkable, she has survived tragedy, and she still somehow seems to be thrown curve ball after curve ball. She is weathered, so, so weathered; but at her core she is as strong as steel and she perseveres.
She is role model for women everywhere. I am proud to know her by name.
Y is a fearless leader. Whether she comes by it naturally or not, life has forged her to be. Her husband developed memory problems that make it hard for him to work. So she works seven days a week, holding two jobs just to provide the basics for her big family. No exaggeration, this woman probably spends at least 12 hours every week getting to and from her jobs on the bus. Just like X, she works jobs that are hard on the body. They aren’t fun. But her little ones need food on the table and clothes on their back. She does it for their present and for their future. Because of her husband’s memory issues, it’s actually almost like she has an extra child. Y is crazy outgoing. She is one of those people who isn’t afraid to try something new. She is hungry to learn and show off what’s she learned, not taking the time to worry if she might not get it perfectly right. I want to be like that. She tries to better herself to create a better life for her family. And don’t even dare consider going to her house and not eating her homemade food. She won’t have it–or you trying to leave without taking all the leftovers with you.
She is a role model to women everywhere. I am honored to learn from her.
Z is theatrical and hilarious. It’s hard to imagine having a conversation with her, even on the most serious topics, without being made to laugh at some point. She is sweet and sincere, and she’s raised her four children, who she insists on calling her “babies” despite the fact the two oldest ones are in high school, to be just as sweet and sincere. Each one of them has their mother’s kind sparkle in their eyes. She pours her affection onto her them. Z may struggle to tell her babies no when they beg for pizza for dinner again, but she diligently teaches them right from wrong, to be respectful, and to make sure they stay away from peers whose parents haven’t taught them these things. Her husband, her babies’ father, was murdered. She was helpless to stop it, and she doesn’t have any other family nearby. So she raises and feeds her babies alone, carrying a heartbreak, a heartache, I can’t bare to think about for very long. That broken heart of hers is gold though. She could be freezing to death and she would give you the coat off her back. She wouldn’t even think twice. I need that kind of heart.
She is a role model to women everywhere. I am humbled to be touched by her kindness.
Besides sharing the commonality of being three of the most inspiring women I know, all of them also all happen to be Muslim and all happen to be refugees. Despite how this might make them very different from you, I think you will find the same spirit in these women as you do in the very women you find inspiring in your own life.
Happy International Women’s Day! May we always celebrate the women who teach us right from wrong, show us how to work and love hard, and make us, our lives, and the world better, stronger, braver.
Momma, this post is for you. It is you I recognize in every inspiring woman I meet.