International Women’s Day

    Originally written on March 8

    It’s International Women’s Day. Here’s what that means to me:

    I shadowed a midwife before I went to college. It was this experience, alongside my job as a nanny, that led me to pursue women’s health. Now, about four years after I first started shadowing, I can say that have seen many women in many forms.

    I’ve seen a young girl’s hand fly to her belly as she tells me about her baby kicking, watching her eyes fill with tears as she excitedly tells me her first son’s name.

    I’ve seen what it means to be a mom and what it means to constantly put others, willingly and effortlessly, before you. All day. Every day.

    I’ve carried a sleeping, sweet girl (8 months old) for hours, singing Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline (that song always works) while her mama was in the next building over, hearing about Jesus for (maybe) the first time and hearing that no matter what she and her child are valued, are accepted, are loved.

    I’ve listened to women share their stories of tragedy, of hatred, of shame – all of these stories happening just because they are female.

    I’ve explained to countless curious toddlers or kindergarteners that it’s actually okay to be a girl and love science, or construction, or sports. Imagine that!

    I’ve watched women of the Maasai tribe in Northern Tanzania hold their heads high as they glide through the village, layered in beautiful fabrics (their signature is a dark red and black plaid), one hand on the basket they’re balancing on their head and the other holding a baby on their hip.

    I’ve cried with women as we glance at each other through our sunglasses on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain, tears frozen to our faces kinda like dried Elmer’s glue and mouths open in disbelief, gawking at how badass we can really be. I sat on top of that mountain, smirking almost, proving anyone – who said I wasn’t strong enough because I’m a girl or prepared enough because I’m a girl or how can you do that don’t be silly girl – completely, absolutely wrong.

    I’ve ranted to my mom on the phone about the creepy guy at the gas station or worried about the man old enough to be my dad who stuck his hand up my skirt in the middle of Uptown Charlotte. He thought it was funny. He wouldn’t have done that to a man. It wouldn’t have been funny.

    I’ve shrugged whenever someone gives me shit for calling them as I walk to my car: “I know this sounds dramatic, and you probably won’t get it because you’re a guy but, can you stay on the phone for a second while I….?”

    I’ve held my mom’s hand in her Honda Pilot, driving away from the place where we voted for the first female presidential candidate. About damn time.

    On a global scale, I have seen women. I have talked to them, laughed with them, cried with them, danced with them until I can’t see straight, tried every food they’ll ever ask me to try, hugged them and held on for dear life.

    I have seen women and I have known many. I am a woman. And after seeing and knowing quite a number, on International Women’s Day I am encouraging this:

    embrace the women around you. Empower them. Educate others. Use your voice. If you aren’t a lady, that’s cool. You can still help facilitate change!! Think about the women in your life and remember how freaking cool and strong and capable they are. And don’t ever forget it.

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