International Women’s Day 2019

This post originally appeared on Shanghai Mamas. You can check out the post here: http://shanghaimamas.org/international-womens-day-2019/

Happy Women’s Day, Mamas! March 8th marks the 110th International Women’s Day, and countries like China are celebrating with lectures, lunches, and sometimes even work holidays for women. In the last decade, International Women’s Day has become a lot higher profile as we continue to fight for women’s rights, like the right to equal pay for equal work.  

This holiday reminds me of the quiet strength of mothers. We all know mothers who carry on in the face of incredible adversity, and even in the small day-to-day struggles of motherhood you need grit and resolve. Before kids, I took for granted all that it was a mother does. It didn’t enter my mind that when a mom closes her eyes at night she could very well be woken up half a dozen times for various children’s ailments, fears, and need for comfort.

Me and my grandmother, circa 1983.

One of the best examples I know of a mother persevering through adversity is my grandmother. She naturally comes to my mind on IWD because she happened to pass away on March 8, 1996. My grandmother was a Boston Irish Catholic widow who raised five children under 12 by herself from the age of 32. My grandfather passed away suddenly, and she was left to pick up the pieces and somehow feed and clothe her children all on her own.

The 1950s in America were not a progressive time for women. She certainly wasn’t part of any moms’ groups or sharing her daily struggles with followers on Instagram. Instead, she embodies what I think of as the true and often unspoken life of a mother—she carried on because there was no other choice. She had five small children to care for and hopefully raise into happy adults. The burden of motherhood, as you Mamas all know, is a 24/7 job. No matter how happy my father and his siblings look in a black and white photograph, behind the scenes she worried about finding a job that pays a woman enough to support a family of six, finding childcare for a one-year-old boy who will never know his father, and so much more.

But that strength is exactly what makes mothers so amazing. We do the work when many people would give up. So, in honor of my grandmother and all the women out there who work and dream and plan for themselves and their families, we celebrate you and thank you.

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