Anyone who knows me knows that my family is a family of all women. Yes, men have married into it, but none have been born into it - a fact we're all rather proud of (in a fun sort of way - we do love men!). Some folks call their family their "clan", their "tribe" or the "fruits and nuts I'm related to". I call my family "The Land of Women". This weekend I was blessed with a visit from three of my favorite "Land of Women" females: My Mother, My neice - Meagan, and her daughter (my Great-neice) - Elise.
As with any out of town visitors, the visit never goes exactly as you imagine (read: perfect). The trip was delayed and therefore shortened by a day. We're not Hilton's or Kennedy's - so there's never enough money to do all the shopping we want to do when we're together. My house wasn't quite as organized or spic-n-span as I'd wanted it to be, and mexican dinner night turned out some too salty tacos (our final shared meal together). No matter these things - it was a wonderful weekend and visit regardless, three days I wouldn't trade for anything.
My friend LeAnne wrote and posted a blog discussing grace and seeing beauty. She ended her blog by asking the readers what beauty they'd seen that day. Here was my comment:
Yesterday, I saw beauty in the females that were all in my living room at one time: My Mother - 69 years old, Myself - 38 years old, My Neice - 23 years old, My Daughter - 14 years old in 2 days, and My Great Niece - 6 months old. To see all these generations in one place, at one time, with so many shared experiences and so many experiences we've witnessed the others go through - and we're all alive, and we're well, and we're basically happy, and we all just love each other so much. To see it and feel it and be quietly aware of it amidst the chaos of Grandma repeatedly saying "Huh?" because she can't hear, the baby crying to have her diaper changed, the teenager painting her nails while listening to her iPod, the new Mom cooing at her baby - it was the most beautiful thing to me.
That really got me thinking about my family of all women.
There are so many differences in each of the females mentioned. There's me and Mom who don't think you should have to press "1" for "English" in the Good Ol' USA, and then there's Rebecca who thinks informational signs in public places should be in more than one language so that everyone, even immigrants, can easily read them. Mom and Meagan - both women who really take pride in their careers and in doing a really great job... and then me - who would love nothing more than to stay at home, sit on the sofa and eat bon-bons...not really. (Actually, I'd love not working so that I could volunteer or do some form of mission work locally or even far away.) I could go on and on about all of our differences.
And so wasn't it just really comforting to realize last night that there is one thing that we could ALL unequivocally agree on....RICHARD GERE IS A HANDSOME MAN. (We'll wait to get Elise's opinion on this matter until she's older - still, I'm almost positive she'll agree.) (Oh, and see...I told you we love men!) We also all agreed that if any of us had birthed a boy, we'd have thrown him out with the bathwater (not really). And we all agreed that we LOVE cheesecake and wished we'd thought to stop at Cheesecake Factory to get some.
I can look at the females in my family and see bits of each us in all the faces, the expressions, physical movements, even sometimes in the choice of words. It's amazing and wonderful to look at Elise and see a reflection of Meagan some 23 years ago. I can look at a picture of my sister Lydia and see my Mother's exact smile. I can talk to or email my sister Emmy and hear the same love for her grandchildren - so much love that it's almost heartbreaking - that my own Mother feels for her granddaughters. I watch Meagan and her sisters - and I recognize the ferocity and depth of their emotions - the same ferocity their Mother and I have always had...and expressed, sometimes regardless of the consequences. I look in awe and astonishment into the face of my own Rebecca and see not only myself but also my Father - one of the only men we ever deemed worthy of being in our family. I watch Rebecca and see the artistic creativity she inherited - not from me - but from my Mother.
I see these lives and all that has occurred, all that is occurring, and all that will occur - and I know that we are blessed beyond anything we can possibly fathom. I'll never know what it is to have a big brother. I'll never know what it is to have a nephew or a son. I'm sure there are many valuable and wonderful things I'll never know by the lack of men in our family. But what I do know is this, women are tough and soft, loud and quiet, happy and sad, confused and clearheaded, affirming and confidence-building, independent and interdependent, complete and unfinished - we're a mess and masterpiece - all at the same wondrous time. There is no place like The Land of Women, and nothing I'd rather call "family".