But then there’s my mother’s generation. Born in the 1940’s, watching their moms be the cook, cleaner, kid care taker, laundress, chauffeur while their dad’s came home from work, grabbed a peck on the cheek when they walked through the door, sat down with the evening paper and wonder out loud when dinner was going to be on the table. Not a domestic care in the world.
My mom and her friends and the rest of the women of her time went on to be a handful of professions from factory worker, seamstress, teacher, secretary, hairdresser, nurse – you get me – the jobs that women were permitted to do.
My mom went on to become a nurse like her mother but not because she had any say in it. Because that’s just what she was going to do. That career served her well even though she hated every second of it. She loved her patients and was a bright light in their life with her wit and the ability to tell a meandering story that might get its way back to the original point, she made the guy on the vent paralyzed from the neck down for the last 20 years feel human again. She hugged, she laughed, she loved all those in her charge. But this was never what she wanted to do. What could she have been if she had a choice? Add two kids by the time she was 26, a divorce and boy oh boy is she relieved that she is a nurse. Having this education and career gave her the ability to not have to put up with a bad marriage, to go out on her own (I’m sure scared to death) but to forge her own path, work long and hard to provide a life for us.
Now my generation. We were told we could be whatever we wanted to be. Go to college and do something that makes you happy. But there were all sorts of things we really couldn’t do as easily as men could. And what I mean by this is opportunity. We technically could do whatever we wanted but almost every single career path was still dominated by men. We had more options than my mom, her mom and almost all the other women of previous generations but men were still in almost all the positions of power, making the rules that we were supposed to follow and we were getting paid less while we were doing it. But in spite of this things continue to move forward, because women of each generation have pushed and pushed.
And my girls are the direct beneficiaries of all the previous generations of women pushing. Yet there is still more pushing to do until every woman gets to make her own decisions and not be forced to make choices because they don’t have choice. Education is the greatest catalyst for women to continue to keep moving forward. Tell stories about how it used to be, what it was like and how it needs to be.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. (Arthur Ashe) That’s it in a nutshell. Keep moving the goal forward, we all benefit.