The women surrounding me are uncompensated for the work they give their lives to. This discrepancy of compensation is evidence of a society that undervalues women which is one of the reasons why we have a National Women’s Day and not a National Men’s Day. There are so many famous women whose words and examples have set me free, but today I want to write about the women I see every day who create spaces, communities, and families with the magic of being human. The women who have changed me the most, who have given me pieces of themselves in the building up of myself. Women who give their whole lives to making the world a better place and not ever being paid.
I am amazed again and again by how hard women work to support unpaid organizations that substantially benefit society. For example, the PTSA I am a member of exists on the shoulders of women who freely (pun intended) give their time to arts programs, teacher appreciation, literacy, advertising, hanging posters, asking businesses for donations, participating in idea-generating meetings, and on and on. Additionally, I serve in a primary full of uncompensated neighbors who give their time by sitting with, teaching, and singing with children. I’m part of book groups, bible study groups, exercise groups, and child playgroups all organized by uncompensated women who create these groups for connection, education, spiritual gain, and passion. Never once asking for compensation.
There are no monies or awards or Christmas bonuses for these groups, there are no financial incentives to inspire dedication, loyalty, or best work. Stay-at-home-motherhood is the truest non-profit non-organization. There is literally no financial or material profit generated or created in religious primaries, PTSAs, motherhood, book groups, or bible study groups. And yet. Something is created. Something is generated. Something invisible and incalculable, something substantial, something that provides the nourishment for little growing bodies, something that connects one human to another, something that flourishes inside of us and brings color, laughter, and meaning to an otherwise drab and concrete world is generated in the living rooms, classrooms, and gardens of these women organized groups.
Something so beautiful is created that I ache for these spaces; I volunteer and show up and contribute to these groups, not for prestige or money, but because these groups create somethings that create friendships, safe spaces, substantial changes, traditions, growth, and freedoms. They create ideas and diversity, histories and futures, they bring meaning to language and to suffering and to joy. These women tucked into their houses, slipping in and out of schools, gathering in each other’s homes – these women give everything they are to the invisible, unknown parts of this world. And they are rich. Oh, how these women give to the world an abundance of invisible things.
In lieu of National Women’s Days, I want to recognize the unpaid, uncompensated women whose names are not in the history books but in the journals and hearts of hundreds of humans in my neighborhoods. The women who order the t-shirts, sing the songs, make the posters, read the books, cook the dinners, ask the questions, hold the little hands, write the emails, open the doors, and are home every day by 3:45 to say “welcome home!” to children who don’t know that it matters. The women who create the somethings that connect humans with invisible webs of meaning.