by Linda Post Bushkofsky

It’s a little thing, really. Every time I change a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, I think of my mother. This thought connection goes back 40 years or so. I must have been a college freshman, home with a trimester of learning under my proverbial belt and armed with a whole lot of wisdom—or so I thought.

I was doing a load of laundry while Mom and I were chatting. Taking one wadded-up shirt out of the washer, I threw it into the dryer. Then I continued to put wet, wadded up clothes, one after another, into the dryer. Midway through this transfer, Mom remarked, “You know, I find things dry better if you shake them out before putting them into the dryer.”

I scoffed at my mother’s advice, likely rolling my eyes, and kept using my technique. Even as I did, I knew Mom was right. I didn’t like being given advice (or the implication that I didn’t know everything there was to know), even if Mom had done it with her trademark genteel, Southern charm.

Mom isn’t around now to give me advice. She died eight years ago. But I think of her every day as I do the laundry and offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for her life. I regularly recall many other pieces of advice from Mom too. As many daughters find, there are even moments when my mother’s words seem to come straight out of my own mouth, as if I’m channeling her!

It’s March—Women’s History Month. Often our celebrations focus on prominent women who made public contributions to society, women like Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Wilma Mankiller or Dolores Huerta. Of course those women and their contributions need to be remembered, but this year I invite you to consider the women in your past who deserve remembering, even for something as simple as their laundry advice.

Bake your grandma’s favorite cookies. Pull out a quilt from your cousin or a painting from an aunt.

Sing the hymns Great-Grandma taught you. Gather the women and girls in your family and tell the stories—the honest stories, wise or foolish—that mark your collective history. Capture the stories on paper or video, if you can, so future generations can share in them too.

You can do the same when you gather with your sisters in Christ at a Women of the ELCA meeting. Name your spiritual foremothers and the lessons learned from them. Recalling our purpose statement, in which we agree to “support one another in our callings,” take time to consider: How did the women you listed support you? Offer up prayers of thanksgiving for their lives and examples of faithfulness.

Writer Clare La Plante reminds us: “In the circle of women’s nurturing lies strength—it’s the untapped treasure of thousands of years of tending, listening and paying attention. It’s the collective female bedside vigils, when the fever hits or the dreams terrify, or when life ends. It’s more powerful than war. When challenged, it can be more potent than hate and violence.”

Throughout this Women’s History Month, may you celebrate the power of women’s nurturing strength.

Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.

This article appeared in the March January/February 2019 issue of Gather magazine. To read the full article or more like it, subscribe to Gather.