Dispatches from International Women’s Day

Hi, from Berlin, Germany, where the city is sort of shut down to celebrate International Women’s Day! The stores are closed, save for the cafes, and the women aren’t working. This is the first time it is being observed as a real holiday. Well done, Berlin. Well done.

While crossing the Atlantic, I watched RGB,  a documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Normally, I am more of a music person on planes, tuning out and in, with seltzer water and face cream, ready to catch up on a week of lost sleep. Not this time. I felt fancy, and anticipating a few good hours of sleep in my Airbnb between brunch with friends and cafe afternoons. So, I decided that I would get a small bottle of wine and watch a documentary. 

I was a few minutes into her back story, awed that she had attended Harvard Law School while caring for her husband, Marty, who had cancer, and a daughter. While reminiscing how well she did, even making The Review, in a very soft and slow voice, Ruth said something to the effect of, “When I studied and worked on school work, I really did it and worked on it, because I would go home and have to care for Marty, but also, our daughter. I wanted to be able to really be with her…”

This struck me. She was a young mother, going to college, and caring for her sick husband. And the hours she worked on her education were precious hours–this made her work hard. That way when she was home, she was all there. She spent many late nights and early mornings working, keeping up with this schedule, and sleeping through the weekends.

While I am not in law school, and couldn’t imagine that amount of work, I could relate to that ferocious protection of my time, my schedule. To working and parenting. And to how the hours can seem fragile. Learning this lesson early on has been a great gift to me, and one I hope to remember even as my children grow. 

Before even boarding the plan, I was thinking about my kids, and I started to cry. “I really, really love being with them, being their mother,” I thought. “I love the person I am as their mother–and the woman I am outside of being their mother.” I am not defined by my role as a mother nor am I defined by my life outside of motherhood; but I feel how each of these identities has an impact on the other. My different roles push me to be better in other areas. I’ve seen that over the last year, have realized it fully as the book will soon release. I’ve been thinking back over waking up at 5:30 most mornings to write it, how I was exhausted but it all felt so grand at the same time. 

This is not to say that womanhood must encompass motherhood, because that it is so far from my belief system. It is to say that I am just thankful to be a woman and to be supported by women, like you! Thank you for being here and for all that you do every single day.

(photograph by Heather Moore for LaTonya Yvette)

4 thoughts on “Dispatches from International Women’s Day

  • Reply Jenny Changala March 11, 2019 at 11:25 am

    I love the way you write. Will your book be possible to buy from Sweden?

    • Reply latonya March 12, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Thank you so much, Jenny! Hopefully. My friend in Berlin was able to go to local bookstore and order it and have it delivered. So try that!


      • Reply Jenny March 12, 2019 at 3:55 pm

        Thats such a good tip! Thank you!

  • Reply Anna March 11, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Unfortunately, women’s day is not a national holiday in Germany – only in Berlin. Fortunately, this is where I live 😉

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