I am an Onion and These Are the Women Who Inspired My Layers

Women are amazing and complex creatures. We are soft and feminine, hard and take-charge, brutal, compassionate, independent and needy. How can we be such walking contradictions and not go insane? (Who says we haven’t at one time or another?)

The answer is very simple. We are who or what we need to be as a situation dictates.

I am fortunate to have been around some truly awesome women in my lifetime. From them I learned so many different talents, skills, and aspects of womanhood. I cannot thank them enough for helping to shape the ME that I currently am. (We’re all a work in progress…so I’m still layering; still adding talents, skills, and aspects of womanhood from even more women along my journey.)

I credit my ability to raise babies and children through age 12 to my mom. I am fairly certain that genetics from her side of the family are also responsible for my ability to become pregnant the second my husband even THOUGHT about having sex with me. (I would have said “at the drop of a hat” but in all fairness, it wasn’t HATS he was dropping.)

My mom breastfed all of us, tended to us when we cried, taught us right from wrong and all about responsibility. She hugged us tight, told us she loved us, played with us, encouraged us in the arts, and read to us. I like the way she made peace when we were fighting over toys or something. She would come in and just sit on the floor and start playing with something, usually blocks. She wouldn’t say a word to us. She’d just build an entire village and start driving those little Fisher-Price cars through the streets she’d made with Lincoln Logs or Legos and have the little Fisher-Price people talking to the Weebles storekeeper and went on about her business. This would cause a bit of curiosity in us and we’d listen and watch. Eventually, we’d sit down and join in and forget the fight because we were so busy playing in this new game that Mom had set up. She’d slowly back away and get up and leave the room and we wouldn’t even notice.
I used these tactics with my own kids on several occasions.

Once I turned 12, things took an odd turn with my mom. I am uncertain whether it was my “hard-headed ways” and my pre-teen “know-it-all-attitude” or if it was her inability to deal with pubescent age kids. Whatever it was, our relationship seemed to veer toward arguments, a good deal of eye-rolling (mostly on my part), and my desire to never be at home if I could avoid it.

My Aunt Ginger, Granny Jean, and my cousin, Wendy, are the next three women on my list of women who helped shape me. Wendy is a year older than I am and was my best pen pal my entire life. She is hilarious, tough as nails, gentle and empathetic to the needs of others and the constant best friend for life via mail that I could never have next door growing up as an Army BRAT. We talked about music, boys, family, dreams, boys, more music, and boys in letters and during visits. Summers spent with her are some of my fondest memories.

Aunt Ginger and Granny Jean helped shape my views on marriage. Both were married for over 50 years; Aunt Ginger still is. Granny died in 1998. Laughter, good-cooking, helping those in need are their love languages and I learned southern hospitality (AND how to make a mean gumbo) from these beautiful and amazing women. When I think of “going home,” it triggers thoughts of Wendy, Aunt Ginger, and Granny in any one of their homes. Hell, even a ballpark somewhere in Mobile while I’m slapping at mosquitoes and eating Frito pie!

When I was alone when I miscarried and couldn’t reach my husband or my mom, I called Aunt Ginger’s house and talked to Wendy. She cried with me and told me she was so sorry because she knew how much I wanted that baby. Aunt Ginger flew out the next day to stay with me until the surgery because the idiot doctor decided that I could wait 5 days for a D&C since I wasn’t bleeding. Wendy bought the ticket because Aunt Ginger couldn’t afford it and I couldn’t afford to send her one. My mom made it out for the surgery. But the 5 days leading up to it were hellish and I wouldn’t have been able to make it through if Aunt Ginger hadn’t been there playing cards with me and keeping me sane.

The fifth woman I credit with molding me is my sister, Monika. Monika is five years younger and about 6 inches taller than I am. She is hilarious, intelligent, beautiful, and generous to a fault. She “gets me” and can be the voice of reason in my sometimes tumultuous stormy reaction stage (and I hers.) I can send her a one-line text out of some random book that we both find funny and have her nearly wet her pants in the middle of a meeting with a client. (She no longer reads my texts while working her job as a “recovering lawyer.”) She challenges me to greatness, loves me and all my faults, loves my kids unconditionally (just like I love hers) and genuinely makes me feel missed when we are apart for any length of time. She’s my lobster.

I guess what it boils down to is this: We all take a little bit and give a little bit in each relationship we have. I don’t know if I contributed anything to the shaping of these women when I became a part of their lives. I would like to think so. But I definitely got the better end of the deal with what they contributed to me. They’ve made my onion bulb more bulbous!

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