For the most part, I think women are really cool.
Most of my friends are women. Most of the people I love are women (my sister, my niece). And most of the people I admire are women as well.
Like Eleanor Roosevelt.
And Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
And Georgia O'Keefe. (Oh, her art makes my heart sing!)
I guess I've been lucky in that I've always felt supported by the women around me. When I got into my top-choice college, my mom cheered me on. When I landed my first job, my friends were there to celebrate. I've been blessed to have such an awesome network of women-family and women-friends who lift me up when I'm down and who shout Hurrah! when I've done something cool. (Which isn't all too often. I'm not that cool!)
And so...I simply don't get it when women fail to support each other. Especially when one of us does something really, really cool.
But now, after a fourteen-year hiatus, at age 40, Janet Evans is making her return to competitive swimming. She has even qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in June where she will race in the 400- and 800-meter freestyles.
Did I mention that she has two little kids as well?
So yeah, as I was reading this NYTimes article about Evans, I was simply blown away. A 40-year-old woman making a comeback in a sport that she dominated as a teenager! And she's a mother to boot! She's such an inspiration. I mean, this woman has drive and she has guts. She's the sort of person I'd like my future kids to look up to.
But not everyone feels the same. From the Times:
Evans said she had been criticized on social networking sites for training when she should be home with her children. But she has set up her schedule so her main swimming workout takes place in the morning, from 5:30 to 7:30, so she can make it home in time for breakfast. Her crazy hours are not lost on her daughter, who recently asked, “Why do you swim in the dark, Mommy?”*Headdesk*
That quote deflated me like a day-old balloon.
I just don't get it.
Shouldn't we, as women, celebrate what Evans is doing? Shouldn't we, as women, cheer her on?
Why can't we support one another in the choices we make?
I think that's the crux of the issue here. If a woman chooses to raise two children and train for the Olympics, I support that. If a woman chooses to stay home with her kids, I support that. If a woman chooses not to have kids, I support that too.
Why must we fight and scratch and kick at each other's choices? Why can't we, as fellow women, offer support and cheering instead?
Because that's what I'll be doing when Janet Evans competes at the Olympic trials. I'm going to turn up the volume on my TV and clap my hands and cheer her to the finish line.
She's earned it.