I called my mom this morning. I tried to reach her before her ride picked her up for her Alzheimers Day Program. I wanted her to know how important she is.
It’s Tuesday. March 8. That’s when I write this column, as a rule. My mom was a fairly typical 50’s mom… looked to dad for house money, was left the Women’s Section of the Globe and Mail while Dad took the rest to work. Got us off to school, and Girl Guides and Boy Scouts and church choir and piano lessons and made sure when we played ball in the back yard that we were fair to everybody. Stuck our artwork up on the fridge. Put our handmade coasters out for company.
She also voted. She looked up to her mother, who taught school, who helped her husband build a car dealership and who got her drivers licence so she could help deliver cars (turn of the former century, here).
When I was leaving home and looking ‘ahead’ I don’t think I had nearly enough appreciation for my mom. She was busy, raising kids and loving the ‘tail-ender ankle-biter’ that she and my dad produced a bit late in life. She was getting her pilot’s licence, and mastering ground school. This was long before gps.
She made extra money by selling what we’d now call multi level marketing products. She stretched the ‘baby bonus’ til it snapped. And she never said a bad thing about anybody! (except one of my boyfriends)
In her quiet way, she taught us lots of life lessons that have held each of us in good stead, I think.
Most important was this: “Donna, if you’re standing with a group of people and someone starts bad-mouthing someone who’s not there, you’ll find that the others will join in and a real tear-down will take place. All you have to do to stop it is say one good thing about that person. That’s all it will take.”
She helped me figure out what I was good at.
She gave me $10 a month when I was 14 so I could start to manage my own money… it had to cover clothes, admissions to things, collections for things, all my costs.
She gave me a box of butter tarts the day I took the bus to Toronto to start my post secondary career.
She did not hold down a paying job until she and my dad bought a hardware store in the 80’s. But she held down a full time job that lasted a lifetime and volunteered with our church choir, and played the violin and the saxophone. And she hung in there as a wife and mother when there were days she wished she was neither.
It’s International Women’s Day today. Each of us in this country can look at the progress, the privilege, the freedom that we have gained. We can celebrate things like maternity leaves and division of family assets during marriage breakup, both things not available to my mom’s generation.
There’s so much to be thankful for as we look at this day. I think about women in Afghanistan whose struggle continues. 38% of girls in that country are in school now. Some women are able to have jobs. But it’s going to be slow progress. So many women in so many countries are struggling to support families without any rights or privileges that would allow them to do so.
We can celebrate by going to dinner. Or by calling a woman who should receive a support call. Or by thinking about our moms, whether they’re here or they’re not. We can put energy towards projects that help other women on our street or in another country. We can reach out to a woman who needs us and make a difference.