I am woman. Hear me snore. Roar! I meant roar. Or not. Whatever. Because I have no cares to give today. I gave them all up in the last few weeks. I gave them to a bout with pneumonia. I gave them to the ache of a move. And I gave them to the cooking of the nuggets and the slicing of the strawberries. I gave them to the praying over the traveling husband. And I gave them to the washing machine. And the swiffer. I gave them to tight deadlines and tight bank accounts. I gave them away when I realized it’s now a thing to wear crop tops all the time. And the realization that the shorts that are so short are stilllll a thing. (I mean. So short. I cannot.)
I remember knowing my whole life that my mom always had dried potatoes on her fork because she never sat down for an entire meal. She was always hopping up to grab one more thing. I don’t know who told me that. But, I never forgot it.
When I became a woman it was around the time I embraced motherhood. I think. I can’t be sure. Becoming a woman after being a girl for so long is a tricky thing that happens in fits and bursts. It’s soaring and crashing. It’s not a pretty business. Or at least it wasn’t for me.
My body went to bed one night a girl and woke a woman the next. My soul took a few decades to catch up.
A few years ago I was on the phone with my mom and admitted the thing new mothers keep quiet about. Life felt suddenly and entirely unfair. My son was more than a month old and I hadn’t sat down uninterrupted and eaten a great meal. And on this night it was going to happen. It was all set to happen.
Steak grilled. Fork and knife in hand. One piece sliced. And then the baby cried. Then I think I secret cried. And then I fed the baby. Because breast-feeding. And then I ate.
I told my mom the next day my woe and she said the thing so gently and so seriously about being a mom. “You get to be the mom.”
With my momma and son. Both have taught me in different ways what it means to be a woman.
You get to be the mom.
It shifted my entire way of thinking. And then a month or so later as I lamented my inability to balance chairing a gala with a baby a few months old and working she said the second profound thing I discovered as a woman: “There is more than one person who can chair a gala. But, there is no one else who can be Wilder’s mother.”
And maybe it was then that I became a woman. Because being a woman is about saying ‘no’ to what the world tells us matters and ‘yes’ to little people with no vocabulary. It’s about saying ‘yes’ to school supplies and ‘no’ to manicures. It can be saying ‘no’ to a promotion you desperately wanted and ‘yes’ to responsibilities you never asked for.
Women have this impossible task of changing the world without letting it swallow us whole.
And sometimes we’re tasked with doing so without ever leaving our house or given enough time to wash our face and brush our teeth.
There are days I want to put on an apron and bake all the things and others I want to march. Maybe it’s because I’m secretly a commitmentphobe or my empathy meter is out of whack. But, I’ve never seemed to be able to commit fully to being one certain type of woman.
I worked from home out of necessity for some time. And later realized I can’t imagine doing one or the other in its entirety. I couldn’t imagine the work away from home baby going to childcare full time. And I can’t imagine doing the no work outside the home thing either. I want all the things.
There were times I paid a heavy price for not choosing one or the other. But, ultimately it’s a choice I would make again.
Most of the choices I’ve made because I’m a woman have centered on a leap of faith that made sense once taken. And this is not an easy way to live.
There’s the moment in a League of Their Own when Tom Hanks tells his star player that the “hard is what makes it good.” I always hated that line. I hated the idea that something just had to be hard. That there was no escaping the connection of the task with how hard it would be.
And that’s the way of being a woman. Of being all the things that it means to be a woman. It’s hard. Tough as nails hard. Makes you bone weary hard. Because at the end of the day we must be all of the things. Because we can.
We get to be women. One of my dearest friends often says she’s coming back as a man. And to be sure, men can and do change the course of history. But, not in the ways women do.
We have a capacity to effect change across multiple platforms. At the same time. Last year I heard a quote about changing nations specifically by force or, for example, invading a country via military force and working to set up a model for democracy or a different way of life. They said that in order to change the culture, you must reach the women.
Women may be far less frequent to make laws, and we’ve certainly never had one as our commander in chief. They are in the position of CEO far less often. Get paid less. The list is endless and very real. But, here’s the truth we must never allow anyone to rip from the grasp of our weary paint chipped fingernails: we shift culture.
It may not happen in one march and you may not even agree with half of what people are marching about. I don’t always agree with everysinglelast thing of it. I find myself not agreeing entirely with much of anyone. Except for the girl who sings Oceans.
We may find ourselves left out of boardrooms or out of that area that’s happening above the glass ceiling. (I assume they’re up there with cigars and burning money for fun. Or maybe just napping.) But, we are the undercurrent that moves nations.
We shift culture even when we lack the capacity to roar. We shift culture with a million whispers and eyes that can melt a man’s face when cut just so. We shift culture with night after night of reading The Shy Little Kitten. We shift culture by teaching our little men how to be kind and brave. We shift culture by teaching our little ladies how to laugh without fear of the future — not because of who is or isn’t in office, but because they are daughters of a sovereign relentlessly loving God who had them each born for a time such as this. (And that includes you, at whatever age, dear woman.)
We live in a time that requires us women be more steadfast than ever. The world will never stop trying to twist who we should be. And we must do more than just resist. We must shift the culture.
We shift culture with every board meeting we show up to (even with secret dried yogurt on our lapel) and with every rock, rock, rock of the rocking chair.
I am woman. Let me snore tonight. For tomorrow I will wake and do something far more frightening than roar. I will wake, put my mascara on, my head down and work. I will wake, feed the baby and shape the character of the next generation. I will wake and I will never really sleep again.
I am woman and I won’t do you the service of warning you with a roar. I am woman and you’ll never hear me coming.