On International Women’s Day I think it’s appropriate to share this video of my song “Work,” inspired by my Norwegian immigrant Great Grandmother Gundrun, and all the women who have built (and are currently building) their muscles out here in this cold, rough, beautiful landscape.
may we know them
may we be them
may we raise them.”
Yesterday the wind blew snow across the plains at 60 miles per hour at times. I got out of bed at 6 am after a completely sleepless night with my one-year-old. I climbed in the warm shower and got my hair washed and legs shaved. I pulled on my robe and shuffled downstairs to wake my finally sleeping daughter, to kiss her cheeks, to change her diaper, to get her dressed, to send her out the door with her dad so she could spend a day at daycare and I could drive in the wind three hours across the state for work and then drive myself home again hopefully in time to miss the dangerous and snowy dark and to rock my baby to sleep.
I’m a mother living on a 100+ homestead at the end of a long winter.
Some days I feel lonesome and isolated.
Most days I feel fortunate.
Every day I think of the women in my family who raised kids before me out here on the edge of the badlands before electricity, before telephones, before washing machines and the conveniences of our modern world that make it easier for women like me to pursue my own dreams.
My grandmother Edith as a young woman helping on her family farm
I wish I could talk about dreams with my great grandmother Gudrun who came to the United States from Norway at sixteen years old and raised twelve children out here in the early 1900s, in all our brutal seasons.
Great Grandma Gudrun with her twelve children, my grandma Edith in the center in the plaid and bow
I wish I could talk dreams with my grandma Edith, one of Gudrun’s middle daughters, who grew up on that homestead with eleven siblings, married the neighbor boy, taught school children on the reservation next to the ranch, raised three kids and took many others into their small home and worked cattle alongside her husband, making sure breakfast was served in the morning and supper was on the table at night.
Grandma Edith holding me
I wish I could talk dreams with my great-grandma Eleanore, who raised two boys on her own as a working woman after the war in a time where single mothers weren’t a common thing.
And I am so grateful I can talk dreams with my mother’s mother, my grandma G. I’m grateful that I’ve taken the time to ask her what it meant to raise four girls in the fifties and sixties as a working career woman. I’m grateful she’s shared with me the struggles and accomplishments she’s found so important to her and to the lives of her daughters so that I can better understand how far we’ve come.
My grandma Ginny with three of her four daughters, two of her four granddaughters and one of her two great granddaughters.
And more than anything, I am thankful for my own mother who taught me to persevere, to pay attention, to laugh, to be kind, to recognize the struggles and have compassion for those different than you, to never be the victim and to work hard.
Always work hard.
I have become the woman I am today because of the women they were yesterday.
Let’s celebrate that strength in our past and look to the future with muscles flexed today.
For a little motivation, a little celebratory music, here’s “Work Girl.”