“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
I am a first generation born American. My roots are Albanian. It is a patriarchal society based on male predominance. Although much has changed, this very much still exists – everywhere. Women are given subordinate roles. Birthing a son means they bear the family name and hence carry the family’s legacy (even if there isn’t actually one).
Albanians have this saying “She is born into a stangers home and goes to her home, when she marries.” I beg to differ.
Given the extremely patriarchal nature of Albanian society, greater importance is attributed to the birth of sons than to that of daughters. The birth of a son was marked by rejoicing throughout the town and firing rifles. I read once that the doors of homes were painted with a black mark when a girl was born.
I was the first born in my family. My brother followed a little over three years later. It was after the birth of my brother that my mother was told by one of the elders.. “You are now officially a member of this family.”
Thankfully, I was never made to feel inferior by anyone in my immediate family. Especially by moms side of the family who tends to have a little more of the old-school type of mentality. I was the first grandchild born by the baby in their family. My Daja (Mother’s brother) always made me feel as though I was the most amazing human to walk this earth. He was truly something special.
Growing up, my mom was pretty strict. My dad worked 2-3 jobs and so we didn’t see him much when we were little. He always respected my mom in the sense that even when he was around, he would agree with her. (even though he had more of a modern/American outlook) The reality of life was that the disciplining fell solely on her.
My father made it a point though to drill into my head, that I can do and be anything I wanted. This all played a roll in the strength of my character.
I am a mom of four daughters. I’m sure you can tell where I stand in the Albanian culture with many of the people still holding on to customs and traditions as my generation is essentially the first generation born in America.
The inspiration for this post – International Women’s Day. I posted the Nike commercial on my Instagram – it gives me chills every single time – I highly recommend you checking it out! But …
Today, I couldn’t help but think of every negative comment I’ve heard since I was a little girl and then a teenager and then – carrying my first child.
My first daughter.
I don’t even want to repeat the things that have been said to me over the years. Just know I will never forget those comments. I always just smiled and walked away. I will continue to smile because I guess they don’t know any better. Ignorance is bliss.
Revenge isn’t in my plans – never will be … you’ll ruin yourself all on your own.
I am so angry for letting some of those comments get to me. I hate to admit that in those moments for a split second I had wished it was a boy.
I hate that I decided not to find out what the gender of my second born was because ultimately I was scared of what I would hear throughout my pregnancy.
I hate myself for being weak and allowing others to have that strong of a hold on me. I hate myself for crying after my anatomy scan when we found out my third is another healthy GIRL!
Joe, I’m so sorry over and over again for that day. I’ll never forget how upset you were with me. I’ll never forget how disappointed you were in me. I’ll never forget how disappointed I was in myself.
Fast forward six years later, we went back and forth for quite a while but decided that we missed having a baby in the house and that we would love to — God-willing — welcome a fourth child. Boy or girl.
To all the women in the past. I am so sorry for how they made you feel. To the women in the present and the future that are and will be made to feel guilty for carrying a girl. Forgive them, they know not what they do.
To my daughters …
You are everything I have dreamed of and more.
Be bold, be brave, be beautiful.
Speak your truth no matter where you are and who you happen to be facing.
Embrace your flaws, they are what make you- you!
Celebrate your wins- you deserve it, you worked hard to accomplish them.
Celebrate your falls – you have not failed- you have just learned something.
Smile bright and hard – because you want to- not because someone told you to.
Spread love and hold your ground – take NO SH!T from NO ONE. Ever.
Never play the victim though – always be the warrior.
Know your worth.
Protect yourself – no matter the consequences.
Laugh loud and proud even if they call you crazy – show them what crazy can do!
Share your magic – your energy is a blessing to this world.
Always, always, always stick together. A cord of four strands is not easily broken.
Happy International Women’s Day – everyday.