I watched with swelling pride as my daughter danced across the classroom in her pink tutu and tiny ballet shoes. A permanent smile was plastered to her face as she performed in her year-end recital. At the end of the performance, she bounced over to her group of loyal supporters greeted by flowers. She couldn’t contain her excitement that several of her favorite people were there to watch her do her very favorite thing – dance.
Walking out of the classroom, I was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude for the women in her life. She had four beautiful, intelligent, strong women who took time out of their Tuesday morning to be an enthusiastic audience. Relief unexpectedly swept over me as I began to realize that these are just a few of the astonishing women my daughter gets to learn from. They model what it looks like to be confident and strong, while remaining tender and gentle. These are the women who will help her challenge the norms that society tries to place on her and will help her grow more comfortable in her own skin. All I could think was how incredibly fortunate she is and how very grateful I am for this community.
I long believed that once women became adults, the cattiness, and competition would dissipate and we would all become BFF’s like the end of a bad 80′s movie. Much to my chagrin, I have witnessed women become more strategic at tearing each other down; more cunning in the way we make someone else feel less than excellent. We slowly chip away at each other, thinking that adding that small piece to ourselves will make us feel bigger and better. We criticize how a mother feeds her child, and whether or not she works. We have become experts at analyzing how put together another woman looks and what shape her body is in. We feel that if we can just be better than this person, we can be okay with our own imperfections. Instead, we have thousands of women walking around who are far from complete, often feeling insecure in the decisions they make, and the beliefs they hold.
We pull value from making others agree with us, to nod that our decisions are the best and our beliefs are more superior than other’s. I find that this limits my perspective, keeping me stuck in these tiny boxes of life, only letting others in who are as close to the same as possible. Accepting others choices and beliefs allows life to be far from vanilla. It adds richness and depth to my short life. It goes beyond merely tolerating those different, continuing to believe in my own mind that my life is actually better. It’s believing that I am not always right and that I have something learn and gain from those who hold different perspectives.
As much as I adore the men in my life, only other women can fully understand what it’s like to be a mother, daughter, wife and sister. And can fully empathize on how challenging it can be to fit into an ever-changing world.
As we walked out of the classroom, I considered myself incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many good women in my life, who challenge me to be better, and support me when I have missed the mark.
Garlic Roasted Chicken with a Roasted Tomato Salad
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1.5-2 lbs chicken thighs, bones and skin removed
salt and pepper
5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halfed
1 baguette, chopped into bite size pieces (you need roughly 4 cups)
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, roughly chopped
In a large oven-proof skillet, heat the two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Dry the chicken thighs, and season them with salt and pepper. Place in the heated pan and cook for 3-5 minutes on each side until a golden crust forms. Don’t rush this step. Flip the chicken and let it brown on the other side. Remove the chicken from the pan. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, careful to turn down the heat if the garlic begins to burn. Add the chicken back to the pan and place in a 350 degree oven to finish cooking. Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
While the chicken cooks, heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the tomatoes in the skillet and stir often, until the tomatoes are soft and the skin begins to wrinkle. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place bread cubes in the same pan, with remaining olive oil. Sauté over medium high heat until the bread becomes golden, seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Once the chicken is finished cooking, remove it from the pan to rest. Heat the remaining juices over medium-high heat. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half.
Toss the bread, tomatoes and basil together. Place chicken on the mixture and top with the reduction. Serve warm.