People say the world is moving too fast. Too much too soon. Globalization. Technology. Social mores. I say that we are very lucky that things are changing. We have so much opportunity at our fingertips, literally. We have the internet. It promotes change. It promotes understanding.
When I was young in the 60’s it was popular to have pen pals from other parts of the world. We wrote our hearts out about what life was like for us in our little part of the USA and waited expectantly for a response encased in distinctive crinkly air mail envelopes with exotic stamps from, what were to us, very foreign countries. We had a real curiosity about the world and our place in it. We were driven to reach out to kids in other countries and from different cultures.
Now this desire has been fully realized through social media. I am presently in contact with people from all over the world: the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Japan, Russia, Italy, Croatia, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, Australia, France, the Netherlands, England, Ireland and Canada.We communicate instantaneously. We open ourselves and our cultures up to scrutiny, support and, at times, ridicule. We are made to think, learn and emote. We develop understanding and tolerance which reaches beneath history and the world news and anchors us to everyday life.
This is a world community. We can no longer avoid our connection to each other unless we shun this medium altogether. And I couldn’t be happier with this turn of events.
Now that we’ve passed that time of year when we give our mothers’ credit for all they have done for us I think we need a day for all those women in the world who are not mothers. Who are they you might ask? Just look a little harder in your family and social circle and you will find them. They are your aunts, Godmothers, sisters and mentors. And, I would bet, they feel a little bit left out every year.
Why would any woman not be a mother? Well, really, there are two ways this can happen, by choice and by happenstance. Some women actually do not want to have children. They are satisfied with letting other people do it. You might think that this is a selfish choice but it really can be as unselfish as mothering. For others, circumstances did not provide for the opportunity. Many of these women either help mothers raise their children through a kinship network or go into a career in which they help others: social work, nursing, teaching. Or they may be a mentor to someone for a period of time during their emotional development or career path. Of course there is a lot of overlap in these roles.
What I’m getting at is the importance of acknowledging these other women in our lives who have contributed greatly to our well-being. Personally it took me years to get this myself. I celebrated many Mother’s Days before I realized that my Godmother had been there for me all of my life and had been a role model as to how to be a strong and independent woman. Once I woke up to this, especially after my mother passed on, I have been in contact with her regularly and I do my best to honor our connection with each other throughout the year.
The same could be said of a female mentor. There may be someone who has shepherded you through a difficult time in your life or in your career. That person was instrumental in how you are doing in the world right now. She may be older and in need of support herself at this time. Are you willing to participate in her future as she has participated in yours? Think about it- the need may be greater for her because she does NOT have children.
In the United States we tend to be very insular and gravitate to the family unit. We lack the cohesiveness that other societies enjoy. Undo some of this. Give back to a woman (or man for that matter) who has given to you. Acknowledge them and show your appreciation. This is how you create community.