Mom worked full-time while raising four children and she wanted it to be easier for me than it was for her. When I was in high school, she bought me a t-shirt that said, “A Woman’s Place is in the House and the Senate” and I recall both positive and negative remarks from teachers and classmates when I proudly wore it to school. Mom was a proud feminist, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and referred to herself as a member of the “women’s libber movement“.
I remember conversations with my Mom about discriminatory work practices that were so common in her generation and still in mine. I was sexually harassed when I was younger. I was french kissed by one boss while still in high school and in another, whistled at and catcalled every time I walked out on a factory floor. Female co-workers would warn me about certain male bosses not to accept lunch invitations from. When I had a joint banking account with my husband at a local credit union in the 80’s, I wasn’t allowed to conduct certain financial transactions because he was listed as the “primary” on the account.
Mom shared a ridiculous story about when she smoked in her early twenties, which was in the 1950’s, that she had to do so in the basement of her own home because good wives of teachers didn’t smoke in public or were even seen smoking through their own home windows.
Mom was my role model. She showed me how to juggle career and family on a daily basis, how to get organized, how to manage my time, how to carve out small moments for self-care, how to stand up for myself and how to ask for help and get it. She helped many women and children in her career in social services trying to reduce barriers, provide support, and improve the human condition.
I know Mom would be surprised by today’s attacks on human rights and would support a renewed wave of support for all to include policies to:
- pay the same as men do for the same job
- recognize and value doing so much of the hard work required or expected of raising children
- become much better at supporting working women, and mothers
- support choices
- control our own destiny in this world, without regard to our gender, race and physical appearance
Mom died a long time ago when I was in my 30’s. What would Mom say if she was alive today?
I know she would be shocked at current events especially the hate talk, backtracking on human rights and loss of decorum in our government leaders. She would say – you can do and be better.