It’s International Women’s Day today, and this got me thinking about some of the amazing women in my life. I am incredibly fortunate to have a wide community of girlfriends who offer me friendship and love and support. So here’s a shout out to the wonderful, strong women I am privileged to call my friends:
The Inner Circle
I have a handful of friends who I know I can count on for anything, who I know love me even with my flaws, and who will do anything for me. I’ve known two of them for more than 20 years. There’s Helen, who calms me with her wisdom and steady presence, who was an absolute rock as my marriage fell apart. And there’s Kim, who has known me as long as Helen, who has seen me through my wedding, through the birth of my three boys, through my divorce, through the death of my dad. Where Helen held a space for me to grieve the end of my marriage, Kim would leap right in to attack my ex. I loved both of them for giving me exactly the support I needed at that time. And, of course, there’s Kira, who is the sort of friend who leaves lasagna on your doorstep when you’re first separated, and flowers for your birthday. She’s even passed on one of her “Close, But No Cigar” dates (see A is for Adam…). Kira has been a source of comfort and of inspiration for me. She’s been through way worse than me and she’s never once lost her sense of dignity or her sense of humour.
My Teaching Girlfriends
This is a group of women I’ve known nearly as long as Helen and Kim. We all taught together at the same Victoria area high school when we were fresh out of university. We’ve most of us moved on from that school, but there is a special bond that still exists between us. We have been involved in a teacher’s strike this past week in BC. So, turning crisis into opportunity, we gathered together for morning coffee yesterday. We had two hours to catch up, and so we hugged one another, leaned in, and started talking. It was like no time had passed since the days when we’d all gather in the staff room at break for a quick gossip.
The Book Sluts
Okay, my book club friends are going to kill me for revealing our top secret and highly disputed name. We call ourselves the sluts because most of us will read practically anything. But there is a contingent within our group who would like us to have a more respectable name. I disagree. I am proud to be a Book Slut. And I am so grateful to have this group of women in my life. We’ve been meeting together for more than 15 years now, and have seen each other through births, deaths, illness, divorce, all the joys and sorrows of women’s lives.
The Preschool Moms
My two older boys attended a cooperative preschool, with an emphasis on parent participation. Even though my guys are now 12 and 15, I am amazed at how connected I still feel to those moms I first met when my boys were 3 and 4. These are women with whom I’ve carpooled and shared child care. They’re women with whom I’ve shared my many parenting fears and frustrations. They’re women who really understand exactly where I’m at as a mother because they are in the same place. They are women with whom I’ve been kicked off local beaches because we were drunk and disorderly. They are a group of women who gathered close around me when my marriage ended and who I adore.
The Women in my Family
My mom and my sister are two of the strongest women I know. When my marriage ended my sister asked me what she could do. “Look after Mom and Dad,” I said. My father was dying of cancer at the time, but I was so focused on surviving my divorce and getting my children through the ordeal, that I knew I wouldn’t be much help to my parents. My sister was a star, and I am still so grateful for her matter-of-fact practicality. My mother is an equally strong woman, who modeled independence and determination as we were growing up. In her early seventies now, my mom just got back from a month long trip to Hawaii. She went by herself. She was tempted to get herself a turtle tattoo.
The Sisterhood of the Resilient
This is a very special group of women who appeared in my life just as my marriage ended. They include a massage therapist, a lawyer, a producer of documentaries, and a stay-at-home mom. Each of them showed me a path through my divorce; they showed me how to claim a passionate, creative life, how to live without bitterness, how to negotiate the fraught territory of divorce with grace and humour. I have a fantasy that one day I’m going to gather this group together for a special dinner and really thank each of them for the guidance and inspiration they provided.
And so, on International Women’s Day, I celebrate and give thanks for my large circle of girlfriends. I am so blessed.