Women; mothers, workers, blue collar, white collar, unemployed, underemployed, mothers- read Mary Elizabeth’s piece on Salon. And let’s talk about what it means to be a mother, if that’s your choice, okay?
I love the way Mary Eliz. looks at both sides of the question: What will women do when they grow up? Here’s what I did. I dropped out of college, (having no long vision or guidance). I went to work full time in and out of my chosen field. I married after a too-short acquaintance, determined to make a good life. Adult life was a complete mystery to me, but I found out I loved to research and read, and I could learn as I went. I had children; 4 in the early years, one more later.
“People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.”
Here’s what you don’t know about me from the above statements. I was dedicated to children, working with disabled children beginning when I was 13 years old. I was an ardent feminist and in college led women’s Consciousness-Raising groups (that was the BIG buzz phrase then). And I believed both in being a conscious woman knowing my options, and in being a loving, guiding mother. I believed I had the potential to be an amazing mother, and my own report card states that’s what I’ve been for a very long time.
“Have you any idea how many kids it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, “What light?” and two more to say, “I didn’t turn it on.” “
Our living room extension was a preschool. I made my own bread for the family and I cooked up play dough on a regular basis, letting the children help with the kneading of it, and choosing the colors. Having a child with a disability became a challenge to learn everything I could about his disability and his rights and my responsibilities. I was an informed and active advocate during his school years, and in fact was hired by a school system as a paid advocate for other parents with children in Special Education. I made learning tools for my son’s use and then for other families. Our 4 children were in a 7 year age range. I worked harder at being a parent of young children than many do on their job sites in a regular workday.
“I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: “Checkout Time is 18 years.” “
This life was exactly what I wanted. And I believe I achieved what I set out to accomplish. My daughters are strong, capable, intelligent and caring. My sons are all they should be and sensitive and caring too. My youngest son worked as a paid care-giver for his older brother during college years. And when there are problems at home I know we can call one of his siblings who will “talk him down” very effectively from his stubborn place.
Even a messy divorce situation gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as a person/woman/mother. I believe very strongly that there are many, many options for women, as many options as there are people. We – society- need to accept the options, support the choices, and above all provide assistance to parents who are raising the next generation. We Americans seem to have an appalling lack of knowledge of other countries’ values and effective strategies. We also don’t seem to value our mothers, our fathers, our elders, our children, our disabled people, our homeless people, our ill and mentally ill people… and on and on.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
Yet I believe each of us can address these issues. One person can make a difference. Start a community dialogue. Find a group of people willing to engage in discussion to find solutions to issues in your community. And most of all; be kind to other parents, the best, the worst and the ones who are muddling through- because it truly is a job harder than any other on earth.
“Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let’s think about what God has blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually. Life is too short to let it pass you by. We have one shot at this and then it’s gone.”
Thanks for listening. Quotes by Erma Bombeck who was an amazing social humorist, and who refused to be moved up to the top of the kidney donor list just because she was a well known published author and journalist. She died too soon.
Here’s a short video about Erma.