When I think of the strongest women in my life, I always think of the women in my family, strongest of all (and I may be biased): my mother. Geralyn Garavan was born to Irish immigrants in the late 50s, a tail-end Baby Boomer, and reared to forge her own success as her parents had done. She is sharp as a whip, extremely intelligent, and makes the most well-timed fart jokes. I know she’ll always have my back, but she doesn’t have to worry too much because she raised me well. She upheld a high standard for her children, but allowed us to find our own path, make mistakes, and become the women we are today. I am honored to know her, to love her, and to be able to call her at any time to hear her steady voice of reason and wisdom. She is always evolving and bettering herself even in subtle ways, teaching me that you don’t have to move mountains to create change. It is with great pride that I share a bit of this incredibly empowered woman with you.
What do you admire most about your parents/What do you feel like you inherited from your mom and dad?
My parents were not American. So when they came to this country, it was quite an adventure for them and full of a lot of changes. One of the stable parts of their lives was their Christian faith. I think they felt comforted by the fact that the same Catholic Mass was being said back in their country of origin, as was being said here in the US. Also, after living in Europe during World War II, they found their faith in God had encouraged them and brought them peace during very difficult times. This faith was the most important thing I inherited from my parents. I am grateful to them for sharing their faith with me as it has guided me and comforted me and encouraged me in times of trouble.
How would your friends describe who you were? / What were your defining characteristics as a young adult before you were a mom or wife?
My friends trusted me and confided in me. When I was young, I was fun to be around. I was invited to hang with the cool kids, (aka ‘the clique’) but chose a different path. I wanted to be free to be myself. However, at some point I left this carefree way and felt I needed to conform…needed to prepare to get a job, get married, and raise a family…the traditional roles we play. This is a balancing act that I think we all have to struggle with: conforming to the certain social norms vs. being truly carefree. I try to look back without regrets, because you never know if the other option would have been better. However, one thing I am glad I did was to have children. You both added so much to my life. Some of my best memories are of you, especially when you were young. Simple things like the first time you saw a pile of leaves, stepped onto a snow-bank, planting a garden, making bread. New experiences…simple experiences…these were the moments I enjoyed most.
Do you or have you ever identified strongly with any movements? / Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I was very young when Martin Luther King Jr. marched; I was very young when the Democratic Convention occurred in Chicago; I was very young when Ms. Magazine came out and women were burning their bras; I was very young when the Vietnam War occurred– I actually was too young to actively participate in any movement. So, I was rather fortunate many of those issues had already started to be addressed by society…still plenty of changes to be made, but the initial changes had already begun. I am a feminist. I believe the feminist movement provided me with opportunities I would never have had otherwise.