“Saturday morning, as we sat around the table in our pajamas sipping freshly brewed coffee, my sister and I listened to my mother and family friend swap tales. They shared memories of their parents and grandparents, their childhoods. They retold the stories of their wedding days, their pregnancies and the pains of childbirth.””
Saturday morning, as we sat around the table in our pajamas sipping freshly brewed coffee, my sister and I listened to my mother and family friend swap tales.
They shared memories of their parents and grandparents, their childhoods.
They retold the stories of their wedding days, their pregnancies and the pains of childbirth.
They opened up old wounds, lives changed or lost by traumas, illness or death.
Some of these stories I had heard before, but each time they are told something new appears. I re-etch them into my memory, knowing someday I, too, will pass them on, along with stories of my own.
Until that time though, many of their stories are about things my sister and I, both single women in our 20s without children, can’t understand. Not yet.
Certainly we have lived our own lives and have our own valid memories. But what we have witnessed and experienced, what we have come to understand of the world, is based on far less time actually in it.
And so, during those hours, it was not just their act of disclosing that made me feel close to them and emotionally bound. Instead, it was in recognizing how we are connected through some of the experiences that define what it means to be a woman.
Someday I hope to be a wife and maybe a mother. I will look to those women who have already accomplished these two roles, and I will rely on their already-attained knowledge and their earlier experiences to guide me.
And even if the roles of wife and mother are not well-suited for or desired by everyone, there are plenty of other womanhood experiences to share, other wisdoms to offer and pass down.
My point is that one woman’s narrative can shape and validate another’s. Through similar, shared experiences, women are connected.
Women live through a multitude of events and feel a multitude of emotions that are not always shared with, or similar to, those of men.
These experiences are not often documented, these voices not always heard or invited to speak, but women hold a key to a rich, underappreciated history, both individual and collective.
Older women unfolding their experiences, unweaving their tales, at the feet of younger generations, is the offering of wisdom and discovered truths, based on lived trial, error, triumph, and failure.
They share generations of knowledge we should not ignore or disrespect. We should value and embrace the older and wiser women in our lives and all they have to offer us.
Through the stories they tell and histories they share, they prove we are not just connected by possible lineage or genealogy, but that we are connected by the experience of being woman.