International Women’s Day

Women sitting together celebrating International Women's Day

An international celebration of women – what a beautiful thing! And right in the middle of Social Work Week too. All day today I have had tender and fiercely courageous memories of women I have met in my 25 years of Social Work Practice. I remembered women at their absolute worst, at their absolute best and at many points in between. One thing I know as sure as I know the sun will come up tomorrow, is that the women I celebrated today are as gentle as they are fierce, as fearful as they are courageous and as humble as they are sassy!

You see, woman have taught me that all things are both. All things contain both light AND dark, good AND bad, nasty AND nice. And all people, not just those that identify as women, but all people, have both good AND bad within them. Today I celebrated those things we call bad, right alongside of those we call good and realized that we seldom get one without the other. 

The women I honoured today are of various ages, sizes, colours, from many parts of the world and from all walks of life. The stories contain such stark contrast of dark and light that I questioned the accuracy of my memory. Like the woman that attacked the man that raped her daughter AND tenderly encouraged her daughter to bring to her breast, the infant conceived from that rape, while shedding tears of anger and injustice AND tears of love for her daughter and granddaughter whose lives were forever changed by the violent actions of another. The contrast between badness and goodness in this story is blinding.

Today I remembered my mentally ill mother taking a bowl of soup to our elderly neighbour after his wife died and the man refusing to accept it because “ya never know what Squirrely Shirley put in that soup.” AND my Mother dumping the soup in his lap without saying a word and going back home with her head held high.  Then sending me to my room – without any soup for dinner, because she heard me telling Mr. ? what I thought of him. I shed a few tears today for my Mother and her life with mental illness AND celebrated the sassiness that was often a hidden part of her fun and loving personality.

As we come to the end of this day of celebration, I felt compelled to share these memories with you. It’s important to me that an international celebration of women be about both the goodness AND the badness that fuels much needed change in our world today. 

It is outrage at the badness that makes us refuse to be silenced and isolated and violated any longer. It is the badness that makes us push back against injustice and tap into the courage needed to hold our head high and walk home with an empty soup bowl, while ignoring our 7 year old daughter cursing at the soup stained old man asleep in his rocking chair. AND it’s the goodness of the same mother, that sends the foul mouthed child (that would be me) to bed without any soup for dinner AND insists she apologize before school the next day and never speak to anyone that way again.

These women taught me that all things have light and dark, good and bad, nasty and nice. And it is women that have taught me that we need both to bring about change in a world that is as dark as it is light.  Today I honoured the women whose lives, both good AND bad, I was fortunate to learn from. I balanced a heavy heart AND tears of joy today as I honoured it all and I am grateful to live in a world that has an International Women’s Day!