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In Which I Respect My Mother’s Style

January 6, 2010

It is 5am Tuesday morning, still dark. The wee hours of the morning bring my fears and hopes and dreams to me in their cleanest form. They are just that: I am afraid, hopeful, dreaming not of anything in particular. Just the emotions, ma’am.

There is a lot in my life to be afraid of right now. I don’t know where I will live next month. I don’t know whether I will find a job, making it possible for me to live here. I don’t know about the state of my family, the state of the union. Health care.

Maybe this is what being a grown-up is right now.

I’ve been reading a book called The Feminine Mistake, about the opt-out revolution and women’s economic dependency. In the first bit (I’ve only gotten through the first bit), Leslie Bennetts argues that it’s not wrong to try to have it all; that you may not succeed; that it will be bitter and difficult at times; that a woman trying to balance a career outside the home and a home life is a worthwhile pursuit because it will give that woman economic self-sufficiency to pursue her own goals and dreams, and that women, in charge of their own lives, is never a bad thing.

I don’t currently have a choice to opt-out. There are days that I would like to, sure. These usually come — for me — at the end of a day of applying for jobs and being met with silence.

But mostly? I don’t think about it. I assume that there will be an outside career, and I have trained for a career with this in mind. I hope it will be fulfilling. This is not a question I have to answer, about whether I will be part of that revolution.

I don’t mean to cause problems or hard feelings with people who had made other decisions than mine. I respect the women who choose to and are able to stay home. I also respect the people who’ve made it possible for me to choose otherwise and pick the choice of chasing work outside the home.

And here’s where my mom comes in. Very young, I remember her pulling me out of bed every morning at 5am, the time I am now up writing, and putting me in the car with pajamas and a breakfast I would eat later, when she got to work. The morning fog would be thin and layered, and we — later my sister as well — would drive through the end of night with the sun rising behind us and the radio on quietly.

I remember my intense desire to stay in bed, where it was warm and cozy. I did not understand, then, how difficult a job was for my mother, who had me quite young and didn’t have a lot of education or training at the time. But I always saw her working. She worked both at a school and as a parent, to make sure that I was fed, clothed.

I think she regrets that, sometimes. That she had to.

But, finally, I’ve begun to admire it — that as silly and sometimes frivolous as my mother seems to me sometimes, she had to do it all to make sure I had the choice to do it all, and she did it with grace. I respect her for that. And I am thankful for her, too, even though it is 5am and I am lying in bed worrying. I am grateful that she taught me that my life was worth worrying about enough to make a choice, however unpopular or difficult that choice is with myself or anybody else. So I suppose that is the plus side of worrying and being an adult and being scared in the dark at 5am: I had a role model who taught me I was good enough to be worried about.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. AirChlo permalink
    January 7, 2010 10:23 pm

    You Go! Sister. Yes, The right thing to do when all is shifting is to remember whom and what to have faith in and Gratitude for. Blessed gifts our minds release to our hearts in times of uncertainty, darkness. I have faith in you and am so grateful for the person you are right now, Shine on beauty!

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