March is national women’s history month.
Did you know that?
Actually, I did. But the only reason I knew this is because last year I wanted to do something on McPolish to celebrate women during March, but then things got crazy with the whole moving and the packing and the whatnot, so…yeah, it never happened. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity this year to celebrate women, because that would suck. Plus, I like to give chicks high-fives whenever I can. Virtually AND in person. But not really for any other reason than general solidarity and because I like high-fiving people.
Right. Back to the topic at hand: Women.
I went to the Googler earlier to look up information about National Women’s History Month and learned that this year’s theme is Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment. I read further down the page, and learned it was only 36 years ago that Title IX was enacted—meaning education and activities funded by the feds can’t be discriminating against vaginas—and about fell over.
Huh. So as recently as three years before I was born, things were a bit…different. What was life like for women then? What was it like to raise a daughter?
Obviously I wasn’t around then, so I decided to talk to someone who was.
That in mind, dear Interwebers, I now present to you the first in this March series I’m calling Women on Wednesdays wherein I chat with people about womanhood, historical women, womanly things, and insert-XX-chromosome-talk-here.
And so I give you my interview with my mother, Kathleen, (Li’l Kath as some of you may know and love her) mother of four girls, grandmother to two boys, retired school librarian, lover of political debate and avoider of house cleaning:
As the mother of four girls, what did you hope would change in society for them?
I hoped that they would have more choices in careers than being a nurse, a secretary or a teacher.
What would you have been?
Hard to say. Maybe a researcher. Maybe like an economic researcher. Someone has to do the research in a company like a brokerage firm, on different companies are you going to buy their stock or not. Women in business now, in my day they would have been the business teacher in a high school.
Do you like being the mother of daughters?
Yes, but I never had sons. You don’t miss what you don’t have.
You have sons-in-laws.
Yeah, they’re nice.
What words of wisdom would you give your daughters if they have daughters?
What words of wisdom would you give your granddaughters?
Whatever interests you, don’t say you can’t do that. If you want to give it a try, give it a try. School, career, a hobby. Because your mothers will always support you. Go beyond the boundaries. Don’t be put off by society’s self-imposed boundaries. Achieve what you want.
What did you like best about raising daughters?
Watching them grow up with sisters, because I didn’t have any sisters.
Did it make you resent your brothers?
Did it make you appreciate your brothers more?
Why did you encourage your girls to go to all-women’s college?
I read the research that said since they don’t have think about competing with the males in class, they think about who they are and who they want to be. But if you didn’t want to go to Saint Mary’s, that was okay, too.
Then again, they went to college across the street from a co-ed university. So it wasn’t like you were isolated.
What did dad think about that?
“This is going to cost me a boatload of money.”
(And you all went to a co-ed Catholic high school. It’s not like you were in awe of males. Far from it. None of you were lacking in opinions about males or expressing those opinions.)
Did you want us to play sports growing up?
If you wanted to. I wanted the opportunity to be there, and if you wanted to participate, you could participate. I wanted you to develop that competitiveness, because you would need it in the working world. I think team sports are good for children.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen for women in your lifetime?
The career opportunities available to women because of their education. Which in turn has lead to marrying at a later age, and having children at a later age.
Is that a good thing?
I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
I didn’t feel this way, but many women my age who got married at a young age felt like “This is it?” Some of them weren’t always happy staying home with their children.
You stayed home with your kids for 16 years, were you happy about that?
Yeah, I was. But one of the changes in our society is that it’s okay to pursue a career and have children.
Do you feel you were still able to pursue your career?
Women can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.
What do you see as the worst-case-scenario for your daughters?
That they’d be unemployed and living at home.
I think she’s kidding on that last one.
High five, Mom. High. Five.