I watched my eldest granddaughter play a high school basketball district tournament game over the weekend. They lost. After the game, parents and grandparents dutifully waited outside the locker room to show our support. After what seemed like forever, the girls began to tearfully trickle out and flow into the arms of their loved ones. I anxiously waited to see how my girl was faring. With a tear-stained face she searched the crowd and found me. Our eyes locked and she climbed the bleachers into my outstretched arms. She came to me first and I think I know why.
There are very few people in my life that I can say loved me unconditionally. Actually, there is only one. My grandmother. Her face lit up every time she saw me and I somehow knew that she was excited to see me for only one reason…because it was me. She loved me just because I existed and I was hers. It is my hope that my granddaughters believe the same of me. The hug I gave my granddaughter was without murmured words of sympathy, encouragement or advice. I just hugged her for as long as I sensed she needed and kissed her neck. As I watched her move on, I suddenly realized my role in the family dynamic had changed. I was the bedrock this family of women was built on. I was the solid and safe place my granddaughters could reach when they needed to be loved unconditionally. I was my grandmother.
I am the mother of one woman and grandmother to six who are rapidly joining the ranks of womanhood. I’m okay with the role to which I now find myself relegated. The job is a lot easier than the one my daughter has. Raising women is hard work. They are exposed to so many negative messages. I’ve raised the one I was directly responsible for and I did the best I could with the knowledge I had. I made a conscious effort to make sure my girl knew her worth apart from a man. I was not raised with this expectation. It was a different time and my mother raised me the best she could with the knowledge she had. Like my mother before me, I didn’t get it all right, but I didn’t get it all wrong either. I know this because I’m seeing my daughter build on my foundation and pick up the ball where I dropped it. My progeny are reaping the benefits of the women who have gone before them and tried to do better.
My eldest granddaughter just turned sixteen. When I look at her I see the fruition of the efforts of the generations of women who have gone before. And, not just in my own family. She is the product of women who had the courage to break out of gender based roles and women who believed being a strong woman didn’t mean having to act like a man. She is smart, tough, kind, compassionate, competitive, and beautiful. I’m not sure she even knows that there are such things as gender bias or glass ceilings. She just decides what it is she wants and works hard to get there. I’m pretty sure when she does find a door that is closed to her for reasons related to her gender, she’ll say, “this is bullshit” and knock harder. In fact, I’m pretty sure she’ll have the courage to knock the door down! The image from the top of the page is something I found on her Pinterest page. There are many with similar sentiment.
So, I’m raising the metaphorical glass of wine to toast the women in my life past and present. And, to my daughter, you are doing great at a tough job. To my granddaughters, I’m proud of the women you’re becoming and if you need a hug…your grandma is here…waiting with open arms.