For 95 years, International Women's Day has been a celebration of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. I'd like to change that a little bit.
This year on March 8th, I'm going to celebrate extraordinary women doing ordinary things, because that's what most of us are.
We're not Nobel Prize winners or civil rights leaders. We've never been a Time magazine Person of the Year. We answer phones. We drive buses. We give flu shots and speeding tickets and homework. We're students. We own businesses. We are artists and dentists and moms. We give ourselves to the ordinary things that keep our families and communities whole.
We are women like Bev, a single mother who is described by her nineteen year old son as "beautiful, my hero and tough as nails." Nineteen year olds are not easily impressed these days. Especially by their mothers.
We are women like Joyce, who postponed her personal goals to raise six children without a nanny or a nervous breakdown. Clara, who will turn 90 in three days, and has quietly and steadily taken care of other people since she was a child. Maureen, whose three joyous, respectful young children are the fruit of her daily labor.
These extraordinary women are accessible to me in my ordinary life. I wave to them in church. We pass each other at the intersection. I know them through their email, their jobs, their landscaping, their friendship.
I am inspired by women like Sheilah. She loves her son. She does not love her body. Sheilah was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when her son was a toddler. The medical community marveled at Sheilah's resilience throughout two years of excruciating treatments and surgeries, including the removal of her pancreas, until they finally realized that Sheilah didn't have cancer.
Her husband walked out, leaving her - sick and unemployed - to raise their child alone. Her parents sold their home and uprooted their lives to move closer to her. But Sheilah never had cancer.
She carries a large triangular scar on her abdomen and insulin in her purse, which she will inject several times a day for the rest of her life to do the work of her absent pancreas. What Sheilah wants today is notice of a transfer to a different job, so that her son can attend a school for children with his special needs. Sheilah goes to work, buys groceries and mothers her child. She is an extraordinary woman doing ordinary things.
So is Kim, who wants to be a better mom, friend, sister, daughter, co-worker and wife than she was yesterday. And Laurie, who has resisted the last 453 cigarettes she wanted to smoke.
Extraordinary women from all parts of the U.S. shared their thoughts for this article, as did women from Canada, the UK, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Ireland and Australia. Christine said that what she wants for today is "for women all around the world to join hands and realize we are all in this together".
I believe we do. Happy International Women's Day.
Copyright 2006 Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.
Sally Bacchetta is a mother and an award-winning freelance writer. She has published articles on a variety of topics, including parenting, sales training and motivation, pharmaceutical sales and emerging technologies. Read her latest articles on her freelance writer website.