I was perusing the NPR Facebook page this morning, and I came across the title “Women Who Inspire: Share Your Photos.” I immediately thought of a photo of my mother and sister. So, in honor of March as Women’s History Month (and inspired by NPR and its quest for photos), I am offering this photo and these stories of the women in it.
My sister Rachel is 3.5 years younger than me, and she’s my only sibling. She’s a marathon runner, a writer, a listener, and a fashionista (I enjoy borrowing her clothes). When she was born, I didn’t quite understand why it was necessary to have a sister. Why did I have to share my parents’ attention? Why did she get presents on her birthday and I didn’t get presents on her birthday? But she was patient – and not so patient – with me, and through the years, she has grown into my best friend in every sense of the word. She and I attended the same college – Mount Holyoke College – and overlapped during her first year and my senior year. Like me, my sister majored in Women’s Studies (they called it Gender Studies by the time she graduated). And if you call her a girl, well, you better watch out. She is a woman, she attended a women’s college, and her strength of character will blow you away.
My mother Carolyn is probably the main reason why my sister – and I – developed this feisty feminist attitude. I remember a story about how my parents wanted to give bicycles to Rachel and me one Christmas. I was probably 8 or 9 at the time. Apparently, all of the girls’ bikes were pink that year (you know, pink is for girls and blue is for boys), and my mother couldn’t stomach the thought of being so stereotypical. So, my parents searched high and low for non-pink bikes, and for Christmas that year, I found a beautiful purple bike under the Christmas tree. I guess that’s as far away from pink as they were able to get.
My mother has always been the type of person to live her life as an example to others and make her choices – whether non-pink bikes or otherwise – based on what she truly believes. It is a quality that both Rachel and I greatly admire and aspire to. My mother is an educator and a mentor. I can’t even fathom how many lives she has inspired over the years through her day-to-day activities as a teacher.
Yes, Rachel and Mom are definitely “women who inspire” me – and I’m sure many others. I don’t get to share this message very often, so when NPR (and Women’s History Month) gives me an outlet, I’d better take it. And by the way, Mom, my bicycle these days is a beautiful blue.