I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.
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One of my favorite quotes actually has an unknown author: "Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."

I have low self-confidence, but I have always prided myself on being a strong woman. As I grow as a person, I continue to become stronger and stronger; I take shit from no one, I stand up for myself and my beliefs vehemently and passionately, and I use my privilege to stick up for those who don't share that privilege. With all that being said, I never would have become the strong woman that I am without the other strong women who came before me.

Representation matters - strong women will only grow when other strong women are in their lives. In 2017, we should stop demonizing strong women in the media. Language matters - calling outspoken women anything other than outspoken is an insult to strong women everywhere. As women's history month comes to a close, I want to talk about another kind of trailblazer: the women who have lead by example, the strong women who are the perfect exemplification of feminism and the way strong women can be. I would never have been the strong woman and feminist I am today without the women who came before.

I come from a family of strong, passionate, and big-hearted women. My mother is one of the most passionate people I know. She never half asses everything, putting her entire heart into everything that she does. She defends my brother and me, sticking up for us when we can't do it ourselves. She taught my brother and me how to be the best people we can be, taught us morality, selflessness, philanthropy, being a good friend and to emulate the qualities of our heroes and role models. She taught us that being ourselves was the most important thing, and taught us how to find people who would love and appreciate us, and push us to grow. She has never tried to stifle our dreams or tell us that our dreams were stupid, impossible, or not worth pursuing. My mother defends the rest of our massive family in a similar fashion, and even people she hardly knows. She will always find the positive in everything and inspires everyone around her. She is always smiling, laughing and cracking jokes. On more than one occasion, she has laughed so hard she's peed herself, which she then, of course, blames on having two children. A massive piece of who I am is because of my mother. If I become half the woman my mother is, I will be lucky. My mother paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My Aunt Kerry has surpassed the title of "strong woman" and moved directly into "complete and total badass." She raised four boys on her own, survived stage four breast cancer, and then decided, at the age of fifty, she was going to have twins. Like, does that not scream badass? My aunt Kerry has never been bitter, never been negative about her situation. It is what it is. She has built this beautiful life with her four boys and the twins, who are the sweetest little babies anyone has ever seen. My aunt paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My great-grandmother was an Italian immigrant who raised five children in the '40s. She was married at 19, and her first child (my grandfather) shortly thereafter. She was the matriarch of our family. She had her "throne," a massive armchair that was her chair specifically, that she would sit in and order everyone around. "Kate, go put the bread in the oven." "Joey, we're going to make an omelet in a bag. Chop some vegetables." She would tell hilarious stories and would claim that no one had visited her in days because a visit doesn't count unless you've had coffee. She was progressive for a woman in her '90s and hardly flinched when my mother told her that my Aunt Lorie had married a woman, and sent her congratulations. She passed away right before my freshman year, and I thought my world had ended. She is the largest reason that I found religion this past year because I can feel her there with me during mass. My mom told me about how proud my Nani would be that I was going through RCIA (basically how you become a Catholic as an adult). My Nani paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

I am a proud Gamma Phi Beta, and our philanthropic mission is to "building strong girls." We do this a number of ways, but it was what made me want to be a Gamma Phi Beta with every fiber of my being when I went through formal recruitment last spring. Like the women before me who have paved the way for me to become a strong woman, I will continue to pave the way for others to become as strong as I have become.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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Dear Mom, From Your Daughter In College

Here are all the things our phone calls aren't long enough to say.
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Dear Mom,

Do you remember when I was three and we would play together? It was the age of princesses and carpet that was actually lava, and you were the prettiest woman in the whole wide world. Do you remember when I was in high school and the world seemed too big and scary? You would know exactly when to take me on a mother-daughter date and have me laughing about anything and everything, and you were the smartest woman in the whole wide world. Now, I'm buried in homework and deadlines hours away from you and we don't get to talk as much you want, but you're still the prettiest, smartest woman in the whole wide world.

I'm sorry that I don't call you as much as I should, and you know a lot of what goes on in my world via posts and pictures. Our schedules just seem to never line up so we can have the three-hour conversations about everything like I want to. I know we don't agree on absolutely everything, but I cherish every piece of advice you give me, even though it probably seems like I'm hardly listening. I know that sometimes we get on each other's nerves, but thank you for putting up with me for all of these years. Thank you for listening to me cry, complain, question things and go on and on about how everything in college is. I know I don't come home as much as I used to, but I think about you all the time. After all, you're my first friend, and therefore, my best friend.

Thank you for celebrating my successes with me, and not downing me too hard for my failures. Thank you for knowing what mistakes I shouldn't make, but letting me make them anyway because you want me to live my life and be my own person. Thank you for knowing when to ask about the boy I've been talking about, and when to stop without any questions. Thank you for letting me be my crazy, weird, sometimes know-it-all self.

Thank you for sitting back and watching me spread my wings and fly. There is no way I could have known how to grow into the woman I am today if I hadn't watched you while I was growing up so I would know what kind of person I should aspire to be. Thank you for being the first (and the best) role model I ever had. You continue to inspire and amaze me every day with all that you do, and all that you are.

I don't know how I got so lucky to have a person in my life like you, but I thank the Lord every night for blessing me with the smartest, prettiest person to be my best friend, my role model, my confidant, my person and most importantly, my mother.

Love,

Your daughter

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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Having Your Mother Accept Your Partner As A Queer Person Is An Amazing Feeling

It doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's huge.

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I am the only child of a single, hardworking, and overprotective mother. All of my life it has just been my mom and I, my parents divorced when I was seven but even before then it was just momma and I. As you can imagine with any nasty divorce, the main parent becomes EXTREMELY overprotective. My mom worries about me nonstop; I'm the only person that she has to worry about because I am her only kid. At times her over-protectiveness turns into her being overbearing and she knows that. She also knows that even when she goes overboard and we argue that I still love her and I know she just wants to make sure that I'm okay. About two years ago I hit the "I'm 17 mom, I'm an adult" stage. Well, now I'm 19 and it still hasn't hit her that her little kid is a big kid now.

Before I really start this, let me just say that my mom loves me and always does everything to take care of me. Mom and I laugh, cry, fight, and sit in silence together. She's my PIC (partner in crime) and I wouldn't want another one to take her place. Even though I'm 19 now, I still have to ask my mom for permission to do some things. Yes, this is a thing that I'm sure any parent reading it would agree with. However kids, are ya with me? Sometimes I hate having to ask her for permission because I know that I'm not going to get the answer that I want or I'm going to have to answer a lot of questions before I can do the thing that I want. Again, I know I'm her only thing and that she does this because she loves me and I don't blame her. I worry about my mom constantly just like she does me.

After thinking about how and when to ask my mom, I finally asked her a week in advance if I could go to Knoxville, TN by myself to see a girl. That sentence has so many red flags in it. I have never been to Knoxville, nor to Tennessee; this was an immediate concern of hers. The drive is about four hours and some change and that made her worry instantly even though my drive home to see her is an hour less. Going alone to a place I have never been before scared my mom because what if I "ended up dead in a ditch somewhere". Lastly, going to see a girl was not high on mom's priority list. I could have gone home to see my family instead, and she is right.

My mom contemplated my trip a lot. I also asked her if I could go a day early and she thought about it a lot and finally said yes. The one condition was that I turn on my location services so she could see where I was and if I did end up dead in a ditch, she knew which one to dig me out of. I agreed and departed on my four hour trip Thursday around lunch. I'm sure that my mom was freaking out the entire time, but once I got to Knoxville she could breath easy and so could I.

I was looking forward to this trip so much. The girl I was going to see is in Knoxville for Grad School and is someone that really matters to me. Even though she is not my partner (we're not dating mom!), Ciara is someone that I want in my life and that makes me really happy and safe feeling. Ciara and I spent most of the summer together before she moved and I promised her that I would go see her once she moved. At the time of that promise, I didn't really know how my mom would feel about it for several reasons, but the biggest one being because she is a girl that I like.

Momma Grace is overprotective, I have already said that. But Momma Grace hasn't liked anyone that I have dated before. My last real girlfriend was someone that mom felt was not right for me and she made that clear during and after our relationship. I have never really dated someone that my mom liked. My mom liking the person that I'm with is really important to me because she matters to me and if I have someone in my life as a partner, I want them to get along with my mom.

My mom loves Ciara. She loves her and she hasn't even met her yet. The whole time I was in Knoxville, they were texting each other and would talk on the phone when I was talking to my mom. Several times mom told me that she could tell that I was happy and at peace with Ciara. Once she even said that she had a good feeling about Ciara that she hasn't had about others.

Hearing my mom talk about Ciara the way she does makes me even happier with Ciara. I feel like I don't have to worry about if they will get along or not or if one of them is going to say something negative about the other to me. I have never felt the way that I do right now. Granted, I have not had a lot of relationships but the ones that I have, my mom hasn't liked the person or had a bad feeling about our relationship. I see so many heterosexual couples who have such a close relationship with the their partners family and I have always wanted that. My mom finally accepts the person that I'm not with, but the person that I care about. They are both so excited to meet each other and I'm really excited for that moment too.

I know that my mom may not let me go to Knoxville that often in the future, but I do know that she really likes Ciara. The feeling of my mom liking the person that I like is such an amazing feeling. I already knew that Ciara was a great person and that she was genuine, I just had to let my mom see it. I'll always be thankful for this feeling and to my mom for letting me go to Knoxville. Had I not gone to Knoxville, mom might not have realized the person that I like is this amazing.

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