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Strong back, steady hands, soft heart
I remember the women who shaped me.
The women in my life do not whimper. My first roll models and mentors gifted me lessons on strength, perseverance, integrity, and compassion.
I watched the sweat roll down my Grandma’s cheeks as she pulled the sack through the cotton field. My mother hushed my complaints while both women bent over in the blazing Texas sun making small talk about nothing and yet everything.
“How much sugar and flour are you using?”
“Oh, just a bit of each, some salt, maybe a couple of eggs, and vanilla,” my Grandma answered.
Her cookies tasted like no other. This basic recipe, if you can call it that, served as the foundation for chocolate chip, peanut butter, and plain cookies with chocolate candies or pecan-halves strategically placed before baking. How was I to ever replicate this mystery of childhood delight?
Every morning, my mother came into my room singing. Sometimes, she turned on the record player and set the needle on the yellow vinyl to play “Good Morning Merry Sunshine.”
The woman with the crimson lips and nails, left for work and returned home at the end of the day to begin her “other” work. After a long day, I watched her whip up dinner bake chocolate cakes, and glide the searing iron over my Dad’s cotton shirts. My mother cleaned, paid the bills, solved problems, sang, talked to anyone and everyone, and laughed.
Over the years, I found other women in my community, at work, and in books who taught me that I have strength beyond what I can imagine. I grew up believing in the best in people and that above all else, to simply be myself.
You may balk at all the commercialization of Mother’s Day in the United States, but I still like to think of it as a day to remember and hold sacred the lessons I learned. We all have a mother, some birthed us, others chose to gather us into their lives.
As a mother of three extraordinary human beings, I know my flaws, but I know the strength I carry because two incredible women shared it with me.
I miss both of them.
Women make strong leaders. I gathered the words of several to inspire us all.
We all have stories—men and women—of strength, courage, and deep love. The author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, reminds us we are never one story and speaks of the danger of a single story for individuals, cultures, or countries.
“A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey, but a woman of strength knows it is in the journey where she will become strong.”
“I don't know what it is about food your mother makes for you, especially when it's something that anyone can make — pancakes, meat loaf, tuna salad — but it carries a certain taste of memory.”
― Mitch Albom
Find a little wonder this week, thank a strong woman, remember, and call mom.
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