Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: cokie roberts

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: Final Thoughts

A woman’s place? Everywhere.

“My answer is short and simple – woman’s proper place is everywhere. Individually it is where the particular woman is happiest and best fitted – the home was wives and mothers; in organized civic, business and professional groups; in industry and business, both management and labor; and in government and politics.”

From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

a woman's place

I finished reading this book this morning (311 pages and 7 hours, 50 minutes), and you know what? I don’t regret reading it all. I wasn’t that enthusiastic about it at first. There are many notes inside my copy involving several “?!?!” remarks, but I think that’s because there are many perspectives that I don’t understand. At the end of the book, though, I can respect them.

There’s a lot to learn about how women lived in the past, how the feminist movement evolved, and how we’ve come to the rights that we have from the women that have been brave and strong enough to changing things before us.

This last quote was my favorite. The truth is, I personally would not have been happy anywhere else but at home with my kids. I enjoy being a housewife and mom more than anything else I have ever done, but that doesn’t mean everyone would.

I have spent many years being defensive about my choices and judging others for not making the same ones. Weird, right? I’m complaining about what others do and doing the same thing in turn. I guess we all do that in some way. Eventually, we grow up and become secure in who we are and the choices we have made and then stop bothering everyone else about theirs.

For me my questions have always been about the children and families. If everyone is working, who takes care of them? That’s what we need to be thinking about. And that’s what she was showing throughout the book, who and how the families were still nurtured and cared for all while women were pursuing their passions, making the world a better place, and creating to the best of their abilities.

Family creation, nurturing, and care comes down to all members of the family, not just the women. I know quite a few men that would make amazing stay-at-home dads and there is a myriad of ways a family can be cared for through extended family and close relationships. Our world is changing, as it always has, and now the possibilities are endless.

I’ll recommend this one. It made me smile, introduced me to ideas and lives I didn’t know anything about, and opened my mind. Women are amazing creatures. We always have been. It’s time we started knowing it, showing it, and sharing our power with each other instead of tearing each other down with it.

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”

I’ll be taking the next few days off from posting to celebrate Christmas with my family. Enjoy these winter holiday’s however you do and I’ll see you on Monday!

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #5

mothers

“We knew exactly what our mother was doing, because we did it ourselves. The children would be gone for months, doing who knows what, and we wouldn’t worry a bit. The minute they were within proximity we started fretting. Motherhood is forever.”

From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

I smiled and chuckled to myself this morning when I read this. I’ve done this myself.

My sons are 19 and 21 years old while I’m writing this. One has traveled Europe alone; the other has been at university out of state. While they were gone, I got a text or a phone call usually once a day. They had stories to tell, things they had seen, people they had met, pictures to share. But I rarely worried while they were gone.

While they travelled there was a different story. I don’t sleep much when I know they are on the road, always on alert for any messages about their progress. But once they arrive, they drop off my radar. I’m sure they are fine. Once they get back and tell me all the stories…hmm…maybe I should have worried.

Honestly though, what can we do if they are thousands of miles away? It’s like our brains know that. The protective mom radar shuts into low mode, saving energy for other projects.

And then they return and the game changes. Suddenly, the machinery kicks in, the senses all hit hyper-alert, and I’m telling them to text me when they leave and when they arrive, let me know where they will be staying if they aren’t at the apartment, and checking to make sure they have enough food, offering groceries from the house before they leave, just in case.

What is that all about? Will it ever end? I doubt it. I’ll be harassing their partners and their children for years to come!

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #4

“Women rely on friends. If you’re lucky like me, you have a built-in best friend called a husband, but I will always need my female friends, and I think most of us do. We simply can’t exist without the connections to other women. That’s where we draw sustenance and find safety.” From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

I found myself getting jealous and petty while reading the chapter on friends. Women…ugg…I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with them. I don’t find it easy at all to be friends and can count on one hand all of my close female friends. Lately, I’ve found myself asking why.

I’ve come to the startling conclusion that it’s because I am not a good friend. I find it easier to be friends with men because they don’t ask anything of me. They don’t need me to be there. They don’t cry much. They don’t want to gossip or worry over what other people are doing. They drink more. They aren’t afraid of driving somewhere. And I’ve never had a male friend say that a hiking trail seems a little too hard or scary.

It’s about me. My ego is strong and gets in the way of my relationships with women.

I keep thinking of reasons why men make better friends than women, but I’m only making excuses and being defensive. I do crave the camaraderie that I see other women have, that ease of conversation and bonding that I see my mother and aunt have with their friends. I have had that relationship with a few select women over the years, a few of which have broken my heart and/or drifted away. I’ve been sitting here thinking what it is about them that I love so much, and I can’t put my finger on it.

There’s nothing like a great lunch date with my close female friends. It’s usually a one-on-one thing. I’ve never been much of a group activity kind of person. We don’t do much. We meet someplace for coffee, food, or drinks. We wander around stores looking at things. We walk at parks. Sometimes we meet at each other’s houses. We talk about all the things that are driving us crazy and then decide next time we’ll be more positive, only to go right back to, “Oh, my lord, and then this happened…” And when I leave, I feel lighter, like a confession but with a friend that smiles and says, “Yeah, me too.” I’m not alone.

When I hear about friends that go on family vacations together, women’s retreats, or cruises, I get a little envious. These women have parties together, watch each other’s kids, who knows what else. But then I remember that I don’t like those things. My friends, those women I rely on for strength when I really need it, or at least a good joke, or an inappropriate laugh? Those ones that don’t flinch when I say something off-color or mean just to vent frustration and then feel bad about it…they are out there, just a text away. And they’re just like me, ready to help when they are called upon, but otherwise living their own lives, struggling to get their own shit together.

We’re all different. We all have different needs and those needs change from time to time.

I think she’s right. We do rely on these relationships, and we should seek them out and foster their growth in the same way we do with our other relationships. Like her, I’m lucky to have a “built-in best friend” called my husband, a few wonderful male friends I rely on for company and perspective, AND a few female friends that I simply could not live well without. I’ve been neglecting that part of my life and wondering why those relationships were failing me…hmm…time to reprioritize!

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #3

“Magazines and newspapers warned that women were endangering their childbearing capabilities with so much activity, making themselves unattractive by developing their muscles, and sacrificing their femininity to the playing field.” From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

This one made me laugh. I honestly don’t think anyone believes that is true if they unpack it, but it is a pervasive idea. Where does it come from?

When I was working at Knott’s Berry Farm as a stagehand in the 90’s, I ran into this myself. We were loading in a small show and there was no vehicle access to the stage area once the park was open, so we had to hand cart the equipment and road cases carefully through the amusement park crowd to the stage area.

Once we got there, we lifted the cases onto the stage. As I went to one side of a case, my partner readied at the opposite end, we got down, lifted with our legs, and pushed the case onto the stage to be unloaded. An older man on our crew, a nice guy, one I’d consider a friend, pulled me aside and said he worried about me lifting heavy equipment. “It’s not good for you. You might hurt yourself and you probably want to have children someday.” I laughed at the absurdity of the idea and went to unload the next cart. He seemed genuinely hurt that I wouldn’t take him seriously.

Think about history, long term, way back. If it were not good for women to be strong and athletic because they would be unattractive and/or unable to bear children, how did have humanity survive to evolve before technology made it easier for people to live? In the ancient past, the strong and healthy survived the trials of life, including childbirth.

As society evolved and technology increased, humans began to see idleness as beautiful, and not only in women. Those with pale skin from staying out of the fields and stream, those that had soft hands from a lack of work, those that had slim, delicate frames and beautiful clothing showed how rich they were. They were the ones in charge of things, the overseers, and the masters of the world. And guess what? Those people had trouble bearing children and begetting them.

It’s fascinating how things change. Today, thirty years after my interaction with a co-worker, women are encouraged to be strong and fit, athletic, and self-sufficient more and more often. Intelligent men (and women) know they want a partner in this world (whether they want to have children or not) and they look for one that equals them in energy, intelligence, or fortitude. These days it seems we are starting to re-learn that a good partner is an independent, strong and healthy one, physically and mentally.

The comment from my co-worker, and from the quote, came from a place of fear, not concern. Those in power over others, don’t want to lose it. If a person is strong enough to make it on their own, they don’t need a partner, they want one. And that puts us in a unique position that our ancestors (ancient and otherwise) never had.

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #2

“Until a woman is elected president, girls growing up in this country will see limits on what they can accomplish.”
From We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters by Cokie Roberts

Now there’s a statement I could not disagree with more.

Growing up, I would see positions, careers, jobs, and activities I thought would be interesting, fun, or fulfilling, not who was doing them.

My father drove a delivery truck and I thought that would be a fun job. When we were small he would arrive to pick us up after school and tell stories about what was inside. He was hauling Polar Bears, that’s why the truck was white. And he’d hold kids up to the small windows to see. I never thought, “Well, Dad is a male, he has a penis, so I can’t do this job.”

My mother worked at the bank and I knew that wasn’t a job I would want to to do because it was indoors and she had to dress up every day, but I always admired how hard she worked at that job. I felt that what she did was important, just not for me.

A boyfriend in high school was determined to be a fighter pilot for the Air Force. My Grandfather took me to air shows where we watched them fly low over the airfield. I considered what it would be like to fly these planes and be the hero that we all thought those people were. Never once did I think I could not do it myself because I was female.

Out of high school and into university, I studied theater arts, specifically set design. Through the process I learned to operate computer programs, build, and paint. I eventually learned to be a lighting technician and board operator. Small theaters require that everyone lend a hand everywhere. At no point did I look around me and think, “Wow. Everyone around me has a penis and I don’t. I must be in the wrong place.”

Wouldn’t it be more practical to change the way we look at the world around us, and not consider that the physical appearance of a person doing the thing? What if we looked at what they were doing instead and thought, “You know that looks like something I would like to do.” And then pursued it to the best of our ability?

I realize that women have been excluded from large parts of the world economy and political arenas for generations. I also realize that in the past there has been reasons for that. But many of those legitimate reasons are being nullified. Technology has made being large and strong less relevant. As a society, we don’t need the high birthrate to replace those who die in childbirth. People live longer, healthier lives. Good birth control gives women the ability to control the number of children they have, if any at all.

And there is so much more. Men’s lives are changing for the same reasons and new roles are opening up to them. Society is changing. Relationship models are changing. Everything is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up.

This book is reminding me of that. It was written twenty years ago, by a woman slightly younger than my grandmothers, and one that grew up in and lived an entirely different lifestyle. Her perspective is so different that it’s hard to understand from here.

To read more, go back to my original post on this book, “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read.”

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #1

We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: New Read

Why in the world would I chose “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters” by Cokie Roberts? That’s a great question. I’ll give you the story…because you know there is a story.

We Are Our Mothers' Daughters

I bought this book the day that I found out there was a used bookstore in the mall. FYI: I just spent ten minutes looking back in my posts but found that I have not shared this glory with you. I could have sworn that I, at least, posted about it on my Instagram, but alas… Sad. I do know it was the same day that I entertained millions at Costco, and I did write to you about that, but I’ll tell you now that there is a used bookstore in the Moreno Valley Mall called The Dollar Book Fair and it has…ready for it… $1 and $2 books!

I do realize that you might think that if you don’t live here, it means nothing to you, but it does. If these bookstores can exist here, they can exist anywhere. We must spread the word and create more! Go my book loving business friends!

You know I went running inside this place when I saw it. And then there I was browsing the used books, looking forward to buying a few books and getting something tasty at the food court, probably a corn dog much to the dismay of my friend who thinks they are gross. In other words, I was in heaven. I went straight to the memoir section, and then history, and finally classic fiction.

Now here’s the thing about used bookstores: They are great for adding books to my TBR shelf, guilt free. I may read them, I may not. They may be the greatest books ever and they may be terrible. This is where I take chances on what I buy. This is where I think to myself, “Well…I’ve never heard of this person, but it sounds interesting.” Or “This looks like it will present me with completely different point of view and I might want to smack the author or its intended audience, but what they hell! It’s a dollar!”

The memoir section in a used bookstore is my favorite place to browse. Who knows who you will find there?! There are memoirs and autobiographies of people I would never think would have written one, people I don’t even know exist, and famous people I can’t stand. And then there are all those people that aren’t famous at all but have some story to tell that you and I might relate to or learn from.

Reading memoir is like living several lives at once.

Cokie Roberts’ book was tucked away on the memoir shelves, but it says its genre is “women’s studies.” It does have stories of her own life, but it’s more of series of stories about other women, their lives and choices. I picked it up because it seems to be written by a woman completely opposite of myself in a number of ways. Note: I did not know who she was other than the description on the back of the book. She’s a political commentator, news analyst, her mother was in congress, her sister a mayor, and an east coaster. That is a life I cannot imagine living.

Another reason I was drawn to the book is that I love books about women’s relationships with other women; mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. It’s something I struggle with, and I read in the hopes of understanding. Sitting here trying to put into words the way I feel is causing a bit of stress, so I’ll make a note to explore that idea in future post. For now, I’ll say I’m usually far more comfortable around men than most women and I’m not sure why.

I started “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters” this morning and I’m 36 pages in. Yes, I read the introduction. In memoir and autobiography, I think it’s an imperative. I’ve already teared up twice reading her stories about her mother and her sister. I have lots of little “!!” and “??” in the margins at places where I just don’t understand the point of view. I’m hoping this doesn’t end up as a rant on how women are so much better than men and how we all need to be independent of them as much as possible. I’m more of an equal partnership kind of feminist.

So, I’m jumping into “We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters.” In the past, I’ve tried to write something longer each day, based on a quote from my morning read, but I’ll be doing things a little different this time in the interest of lessening the load over the holidays. I’ll be sharing quotes for each hour I read on Instagram (so be sure to follow me there) and as a “story” here. I’m not sure what that means, to be honest. I’m using the “story” button on the WordPress app on my phone, and it seems that all it does is make another blog post, but it looks like people enjoy them, so I’ll keep doing it.

One more thing before I go. I’m glad to be back here and writing again. For a few weeks, I really started to think maybe I should quit. That’s another long story I could post in the future. But something inside me won’t let me stop. What’s the point of reading all this stuff and keeping it all to myself? Seems like stingy Grinch thing to do.

Read more at
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #1
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #2
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #3
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #4
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters #5
We Are Our Mothers’ Daughters: Final Thoughts

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