Tag Archives: feminism

The #1 Little Piece Of Information NOT To Share With Your Child

It was a feminist literature class. On the contemporary reading list was The Joy Luck Club. A book chock full of mother/daughter relationships.

The assignment?

An interview with your mother.

The questions we were required to ask were predictable. How did you meet my father? Why did you choose marriage at that time in your life? What was your life like before kids? How far did you take your education? What did you learn from your mother about parenting?

What was your reaction when you heard you were pregnant with me?

“Defeat.”

Huh? Did I hear her right? Did she really say defeat?

Uh. Yes.

She did.

I knew I didn’t really want to hear any more. A glutton for punishment, I asked her to explain.

“Well. When I married your father I knew I wanted to go to college. He wanted to start a family right away. So I made a deal with him. We would have sex one night in the month of March. He could pick the night. If I got pregnant, fine. We’d start having kids. If not, I could start school.”

Oh.

“I was looking through college catalogs and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Then I realized I was a few days late for my period. I knew your father had won. So I threw the catalogs in the trash and here you are.”

A consolation prize?

“You know. I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”

Four times. What were you thinking?

“You kids kept me from getting my degree for 10 years. But, I eventually got it. So I guess it all worked out, right?”

Uh. No.

It didn’t.

Your response explains a lot. It explains the heavy sighs. The crabby days. How we always seemed in your way. Why we all scurried every time you came home. Your nightly vodka tonics. How some days you could barely look at us.

But it didn’t work out.

Not for me, anyway.

And when you completely forgot my birthday this year? No card. No phone call.

At least now.

I know why.

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Filed under Moms, Motherhood

The Moment I Knew I Was A Feminist

It was a cold, rainy day.

In kindergarten.

I was playing with my best friend, David. Playing indoors, because of the weather. And we were on our knees, vrooming our construction trucks around on the floor. Our classroom had a really neat mural on the floor, complete with roads and stop signs and houses and trees. It was early in the school year and we had been waiting for a day just like today so we could play inside during recess.

Now, I adored Mrs. Harvey. My first few weeks at school were better than I could have imagined. Mrs. Harvey was kind. And sweet. And she knew so much. Everything was a game with Mrs. Harvey. She smelled like cookies. Mrs. Harvey was the reason I wanted to be a teacher someday. Mrs. Harvey would be the first, of many, women role models in my life.

But Mrs. Harvey did not like me playing on the floor with the boys.

With the trucks.

Making vroom-vroom noises.

Mrs. Harvey told me that I wasn’t being very “ladylike” and I needed a little time to myself to reflect. It wasn’t time-out, exactly. She sat me at a table and taught me how to make “scribble pictures” with crayon. She told me this is what little girls were supposed to do during inside recess. This or play in the housekeeping area with the dolls and tea sets and little play stoves.

I didn’t like the housekeeping area. Besides, my friend – my best friend – liked to play trucks and build things with blocks. There weren’t any blocks or trucks in the housekeeping area.

That evening, I told my mother what had happened. She told me that some people thought that girls could only play with certain toys and in certain ways. When I was at home, playing in our neighborhood, I was free to play any way I wanted. But at school, I had to listen to Mrs. Harvey’s rules.

In our neighborhood, I was the girl who climbed trees, spit cherry pits the farthest, built sand castles and forts, played with trucks and raced on my bike. I wore garter snakes around my wrists and had an ant farm in my room. I was one of the first chosen for a game of kickball or baseball. My best friends were boys because they knew how to play. The only time I touched a doll was to switch the heads of my sister’s Barbies and larger baby dolls so we could laugh at the absurdity.

In high school, I was lamenting to one of my guy friends about my lack of dates. He said, “You’re not the kind of girl guys date. You’re the kind guys marry.” It was supposed to be a compliment. At the time, it was little consolation.

I’m glad I had a mother that told me it was ok to be who I was. And while Mrs. Harvey squelched me a little on that cold, October day – her sweet, nurturing nature was something I craved and wanted to emulate. She was much older than my mother and a victim of her era. All is forgiven.

But that day, the day I was told little girls don’t play with trucks and make loud noises, was a defining moment for me.

It is a day I look back on fondly. At the time, I was upset. But I had a mother who believed I could play with trucks if I wanted to. I had a father who took me fishing and to baseball games. I was in elementary school during the ’70s, watching the women’s movement take off. There were so many more amazing female role models to come.

I smile when I take a look at what my life is now. I am a mother of three. Who gave up her career to stay home with her children. To raise them full-time. A job I wouldn’t trade for any other. I love to bake and have an orderly home. I’d rather cook something from scratch than pop dinner in the microwave. We even have a picket fence around our yard.

It sounds all so very 1950s.

But it’s who I am.

It’s what I love.

And it’s the feminist movement that allows me to be proud of  this very delicious, amazing, gratifying and yes, enviable place in my life.

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Filed under children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned, Observations