Tribute to the Mothers In Our Lives


As we celebrate our mothers this May, we are grateful for their love and all they do for us, but we want to honor them for what the work they have done and the example the set for us as young women.

As young women of the 21st century it’s hard for us to imagine a world where women couldn’t vote or get approved for credit simply because they were female. Though we often think of legendary women that fought for our rights, as we interviewed the women in our own families, we came to see just how far our own mothers and grandmothers had to fight to gain their independent place in our society, empowering us as their daughters along the way.

The discrimination and roadblocks women faced for centuries have been mostly dismantled over the past 100 years. Times are changing for the better. After centuries of being considered the “property of their husbands,” women have gained control over their lives and independence. Though all our living relatives have experienced a life where they have the right to vote, it wasn’t until a generation ago in the 70s that banks would approve women for credit or loans thanks to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg who opened the door for women to have financial independence.

Kenwood junior Eliza B recalls, “My grandmother grew up around the time when women basically weren’t allowed to do anything but take care of the house, cook, clean, and take care of the kids. When she had my mom, all those practices were outdated but my grandmother was still of that mindset. She basically raised my mom to be dependent on men. But when my mom reached 18, she realized that wasn’t how she wanted to live her life. She got a job, paid her way through college, and moved out on her own. She started a family, but only because she wanted to not because she had to.”

DR’s family has experienced the changes in gender roles and women’s increasing independence because of military service and jobs. DR remembers, “Unfortunately, my grandmother basically grew up like the Cinderella story to a tee. As she got older, she moved and met my grandfather, had kids, and then my grandfather went into the military, so my grandmother was left alone to act not only as the mother but also the father in her kids’ lives. After my grandfather got out, he became a truck driver and was always on the road so once again my grandmother was left alone to manage the bills and house and to keep up with the yard and kids. This shows how women’s narratives have changed. Back in the 50’s women probably didn’t know how to survive without their husbands. She grew up in the 60’s so her story really shows how things can change within just 10 years.”

Another change from our grandmothers’ generation is that we’re seeing our mothers not only have independence but change traditional gender roles in our homes. Junior Haleigh R shares, “In my house my mom makes dinner unless she has school. But if my dad is off work, he’ll make breakfast or dinner. They both work and have jobs and do things around the house.” Fiona’s mom, Chantoune, also sees changing gender roles in the workplace. “Men saying ‘this is not for women, this is a man’s job’ is something I don’t agree with because it’s not about men or women, it’s just about them as a person. Men can cook and women can do construction.”

These changing gender roles are sometimes slower to happen, but progress is being made. JG sees this happening in her family. Her mom shaers, “I feel with my family who grew up in Mexico that they have a lot of older ideas and customs where they see a man having different chances and getting different treatment than the girls And I think before some members of my family would sort of go along with it and pay no mind, but now they speak up and try to educate them in a respectful way so they can teach their children that everyone is equal.”

As times are changing, the women in our lives are modeling how to not only be independent women but be leaders. Over the generations, voices of women have risen from having no voice to having our very own first female vice president.  Not in a million years would anyone in centuries past have believed a woman would hold the title of the second most powerful person in America. Kenwood junior Eliza B’s mother, Rifkaw Fonseca shares, “I have actually seen a lot of younger women in this generation trying their best to dismantle the whole stigma that a woman needs a man or the help of a man to reach her full potential.”

We have fought long and hard for our voices to be heard. We are making a lot of noise. We are fighting against oppression, sexism, and inequality.  We are making a change for every girl and every woman out there to show them that our gender does not make us incapable. Fonseca adds, “Never let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough or smart enough.”

However, it is not only leaders like Kamala Harris that have shown us women have a voice today, but the women in our everyday lives. “Women are capable of anything and my mother has really proven that to me. She is the strongest woman I know and very independent. She really is the example of how women have evolved over the past 100 years. The women in my life matter and they always have a voice,” shares Kenwood student Taniya W.

In the past women use to go from the care of their fathers to the care of their husbands. Today we have the narrative of the single mother. She is one that demonstrates strength, hard work, and independence. The women today are “steering their own boat. She doesn’t rely on anyone, doesn’t often ask for help, but when she does, she’s not embarrassed about it because she wants help to become a better version of herself,” states Fonseca.

Another scenario that has changed is that a woman in an unhappy marriage may be told to “stay for the baby.” To make a huge decision, especially with a society that never thought women could do it by themselves, is a tough decision. Now women put themselves first and fight to get ahead with their children whether it is with or without a man. They rather love themselves and have their child with them than be unhappy to maintain some societal standard.  “My mother is a single mother who always took care of me. My mother goes beyond her limits since she works constantly. She has shown me how to be strong, hard-working, and very independent. From her hard efforts, she also takes in that “fatherly” figure that I can admire. That alone to me demonstrates the changing narrative of women’s capabilities because despite what my mother been through, she still has the strength to continuously work hard, think for herself, and take care of her loved ones,” shares Kenwood Fiona S.

The mothers in our lives are showing us we can get things done on our own. They may seem like everyday women, but the everyday woman is empowering us. “My mom has a weird way of trying to empower me. It’s either she says something that can come off as rude and may be triggering, or she says something that’s really wise. She is brutally honest unapologetically, and I think that trait of hers empowers me since I feel not only proud to have her as a mother, but I also feel like I can learn to be myself authentically without anyone else’s input interfering. To me, knowing and expressing yourself is empowerment,” shares junior Fiona S.

Our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters may not be famous, well-known women in the history of Women’s Rights, but they are women well known by us, and they are showing us how to make waves each in our own way. On this Mother’s Day 2021, we thank our mothers and grandmothers for paving the way for us, for helping us grow into independent, strong women, and, of course, for their love that makes it all possible.