I find as I grow older, I have a greater appreciation for complex women characters. Good and bad and understandable; I want them to be interesting. This has come in company with my growing tolerance for the imperfections of my family.
Yes my grandmother was a cult leader who hurt countless people and contributed to the early death of at least a dozen. Yes my mother left me and my siblings in my grandmother’s care as she furthered her education and supported a family of five.
But they both taught me so much, things I might not have learned in a happier home or with less ambitious women as my role models. They were both women in a man’s world and they taught me ways to navigate a world built by men for men.
My mother taught me work ethic, charity even while living in poverty, and the importance of checking sources. My grandma taught me how to write and tell a story, how to debate and win, and how to give a press interview. They wanted different things for my life, but in their own ways they were both preparing me for greatness.
I marvel at what a gift that is, when it so easily could have gone differently. I was the last child, slow to speak and hit other developmental milestones. I was born inconveniently in the midst of my parents’ divorce. I was a girl in a particularly sexist flavor of Christian ideology. And yet, I was raised as if I would be great.
So today I am grateful for the lessons I learned from my imperfect heroines. And that is a good place to be.