Over the past few days, I’ve met some interesting people while reporting out a story on marriage. Three, in particular, made me stop and think about where this blog is headed. I may invite one or all of them to participate.
One highly accomplished woman told me she has had the rug pulled out from under her in the past few months. Not one accustomed to free-fall, she’s lost her marriage and her business, all in a very short time. She has no choice but to move on, she said.
This woman's education and career should provide her some very positive choices, but still, she’s out there on a limb, maybe for the first time her life. I’m not sure of her age, but am certain she fits the situational requirement of the average birdsonablog reader.
Yesterday’s conversation reminded me how far many of us have come in our lives. We were all pioneers, but without the sunbonnets.
Those of us who grew up in the US in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, had few role models, really, for the lives we’ve lived. What were our choices? Not Barby, not Jane Fonda, not Nancy Drew or Betty Crocker, not even Gloria Steinem or Madonna. How did we ever find our way?
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So, I’d say, those who survived the second half of the last century deserve some credit for whatever small part we played in spearheading the radical shift we all lived through, even if only because we sought out and demanded different lives. At the very least, we demanded more control over our own.
I think most of us have become so accustomed to living in the center of the swirling winds of change, we no longer notice the precipice we’ve been perched on.
Think about it:
How many of our mothers went through a divorce?
Did your mom go to college? Did she get an advanced degree?
How many of our mothers or grandmothers started their own businesses? (I know, one did.)
Did your mother enter into a same-sex relationship late in life?
Did she have any experience raising someone else’s child?
Was she able to buy her own home, using her own money and having only her name on the deed? Did she even own her own car?
I thought about going to law school in 1971, and went over to the George Washington University to look into it. The admissions officer told me they were opening up five whole seats to women that year (up from none?). There already were 500 applicants but they'd be glad to take my application, with a $100 non-refundable fee.
In 1974, while I was still married, I was turned down by National Bank of Washington for a savings account in my own name. No problem, I went across the street to Riggs, and they were fine with the idea. In 1975, my father reluctantly co-signed a car loan for me, angry that he had to get involved in the transaction when his daughter was 31 years old, and a mother who held a good teaching job.
Well, among the 35 women I’ve invited to participate in this blog, here’s what we look like (as far as I know):
--All attended college and, I believe, all finished undergraduate programs. Many have master’s degrees.
--7 have doctorates (including one MD, two JDs, and four PhD’s)
--10 have had careers in business, many their own
--5 are or were educators
--2 are lawyers, one is a judge
--13 wrote for a living
--6 work or worked as artists, photographers or musicians
--43 are or were psychologists or psychiatrists
--6 have had careers in government
--3 served in the Peace Corps
--most have had multiple careers
--almost all have worked through their entire adult years
26 are currently married
2 never married
33 married at least once
at least 1 is in a same-sex relationship
6 have been widowed
17 have been divorced
12 married or remarried late in life
7 have stepchildren
at least 11 have or have had cancer
So, there you have it. We’ve all been places our mothers never visited, for better or worse. Instead of following the footsteps of our forebearers, we used each other (or similar women) as guides through some very treacherous times. Some of us were kicking and screaming, but obviously, we did pretty well, considering.
Today, we can look around, and realize WE ARE THE ROLE MODELS we were looking for.
We have a lot to be proud of and even more to be grateful for.
So, please, share your story, offer a hand to those who need it, and support other women of all ages, any way you can.