My longtime mommy friend Liz at Eternal Lizdom has invited me to participate in a group writing activity this week. (Liz – did it work? did it work? my first bloggy hyperlink…)
The topic: What it Means to Be a Woman
I, for one, think this is tricky. What it means to be feminine? That I can write. What it means to be a wife? Same.
But a Woman. There are so few limitations here: The only way you can’t be a woman is if you happen to have a penis (and even then, should you be transgendered……… all bets are off.)
So then, I decided that I will interview those around me and ask them this question. “To you, what does it mean to be a woman? The first thing that comes to mind?” The answers I got were mostly lists of adjectives: nurturing, sexy, caregiving, multi tasking master, compassionate, strong pain tolerance, graceful. While these characteristics sure do represent aspects of women, they can represent men just as easily, I fear………….. I’d certainly use them if I were describing what feminine means….. They’re gray. My brain works only in black and white and this is a black and white question. Except I don’t really think it has a black and white answer. I’m also very literal. This question, phrased slightly differently – “What does it mean TO YOU to be a woman?” Would be an easy answer. Except that that’s not the question – the question is universal “What does it mean to be feminine” – and I cannot answer universally on this one.
So – I have to answer by tweaking the question, and describing MY first real understanding of what it means to be a woman:
Motherhood. My first encounter with my Femininity, with my womanhood, was motherhood. To carry life within my own body, to somehow, by some miracle, create a perfectly formed and whole person (with no input from me!). Who is born, miraculously, from the body created to birth it. Who drinks milk created from my very body, just for her.
A mother has an instinct, a life force, that is activated when that strip turns blue and multiplies the first time she hears her child’s heartbeat, and again when she sees the child on the ultrasound screen, and even more so when she then holds that child in her arms. Each event multiplies that force within her. A mother must have some semblance of compassion, of empathy, at the very leaset a modicum of patience. Any of these attributes will grow as the child grows and the need presents itself. Another miracle. A mother understands that the most important thing she can do with her life is prepare her next generation for theirs. To be a mother is to love another more than you love yourself. To KNOW love, even.
Becoming a mother, feeling those little feet inside of my body, kick me, miraculously, that was when I understood womanhood. A woman is programmed to have organs that are intended to create, nurture, bring forth life, and then SUSTAIN that life.
To me, Womanhood is is best represented, then, by Motherhood.