On Being a Mother in the Age of Hillary

I was born in 1961. My dad was a young officer in the Army and my mom, his dutiful Officer’s Wife. When he asked her to marry him in 1959, he gave her a copy of The Officer’s Wives Handbook to make sure she knew what she was “signing up” for.

My mom didn’t wear pants out in public until 1972. She bought a red pantsuit that year and we were all so excited. She was 36 years old.

My then neighbor, Michaela had a Ms. Magazine when we were ages 10 and 11. My mom said I was not to read it; that it gave a misguided notion of what a woman was. I was intrigued all the more.

Spin forward to 2016. My 15-year-old daughter doesn’t know why the news of Hillary winning the Democratic nomination for President brings me to tears. She says that it doesn’t matter what gender the nominee is, as long as she/he has good ideas for our country. I am proud she thinks this because it tells me that she knows that men and women are on potential equal footing.

I am still upset at the weak, servile way women are portrayed in film, television, and other media. I am upset at the way men are portrayed as well. I have known so many strong, do- it- all women and so many strong, respectful men.

My daughter is sick to death of my saying to her at various times, “Every time you pretend you don’t know something in class, every time you say, ‘I can’t’ you are reinforcing what society thinks at large about women. We have fought for the right to go toe to toe with men at home, at work and out in society and I will NOT tolerate self-imposed weakness!”

She then answers with, “I know, I know. You don’t have to tell me again!” But I do and I will.

I don’t agree with all Hillary’s decisions, but I’m sure if she looked at my life, she would not agree with all of mine. (Upon reflection, I don’t agree with all of mine) What I do agree with her on is strengthening the economy and providing access to quality schooling experiences for young children and education for their young parents. But even more than all that, I agree with her choices to “go for it”. I bet that women has been dreaming of this since she was in college and she has made it happen. That’s what I want my daughter to take from Hillary’s win.

There is a glass ceiling, sometimes self- imposed, sometimes imposed by others. It’s got a crack in it, and this could be the moment it shatters.


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