I’m working on something really special, inspiring and important to me, behind the scenes. It was first inspired by Rona Maynard’s memoir about her mother, and now I’m coming to appreciate the wonder and power of the women in my own maternal lineage. But I didn’t always see them that way.
The earliest days of my feminist beliefs were limited to notions of powerful women as anti-domestic and career-focused. 15 years later these views have drastically changed.
Born in the 80s and coming of age in the 2000’s, a powerful woman meant someone with a successful career of her own, with a caregiver to help her with kids (if she had any), and with a post-secondary education and awards. Recognition in the public sphere is what made a powerful woman to me, not someone who led the household in the private sphere of life. Being the first and only woman in my family’s lineage to complete not just one but two degrees at university gave me a badge of honour along with a superiority complex. Thankfully, we all learn and grow with time and I’ve dropped the complex and that uninformed arrogance since.
The women from whom I come, they were fierce caregivers, hospital workers, community cooks, and mothers. They hustled hard to provide for their family and nurture their children. They were all sassy women, rebellious in their own rite, and not too fond of the men in their lives. Not one of them was quiet or passive, and they all spoke their minds even when it was dangerous to do so. They held themselves as more capable, harder working and more useful than their male counterparts. Useful. That’s the essence of what my foremothers passed on to me. I have an insatiable desire and drive to be useful in my life. Luckily, I think differently about men than they did and have grown to see both the incredible divine power of women and of men, different and not at all equal. The power is in our differences, and that is what my kinda feminism is all about. Honouring us all without having to be equal or stuffed into a box.
This is a pictures of my mother, Marta, in the middle, my great granny Eszter on the left and my grandmother Eszter on the right. Yes, it’s a Hungarian thing to name women after their mother’s and men after their father’s. My mom ended that tradition.
Marta is a touch adversarial and intent on being original. Raised in communist Hungary with limited personal freedoms, she escaped with my father in 1974 to come to Canada where she could be free. Where I would grow up. That’s how my mama raised me … you can probably tell now why I’m #unapologetic by nature. Needless to say, when I look at these three women, all of whom were progressive and envelope pushers in their own ways, for their own times, I can’t help but want to honour them with a writing project, and pay homage to the lineage they laid down for me and the next generation.
For 28 years I was wrong. I loved these women, but I didn’t see them as powerful. I was frustrated in my youth that they weren’t career focused, disappointed that they had not gone to get themselves a post-secondary education, and disempowered by their leadership in the domestic arena. My naive and rebellious feminism couldn’t have been more wrong about them.
My mother, my grandmother and my great granny are incredible, amazing women. When I think about them today I’m immediately brought to tears. They inspire me and their strength and resilience is a part of me. They are hilariously funny, sarcastic and cynical. They never give up even when they have every reason or right to do so. They’re fiercely stubborn in the most beautiful way that get’s shit done against the odds. And they’re pure love. Loving, caring and courageous women. They’ve lived through world wars, revolutions, political dissension, marriages, divorces, and life transitions. They have held their head high when their social circumstances would denounce them. I don’t know how they did it, and how they keep doing it. I love these women, I admire them, and I am so honoured to have come from them. Just thinking of them evokes delight and wonder. My mother(s).