Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Important Right Have Women Lost?

   Women’s rights.  Seriously, when I was younger I thought that this was a great idea.  Be equal to men, earn what they did, be independent and bring home the bacon.  You can do it all – raise a family, fix the car, volunteer, cook, clean, pay the bills – and for what?  My question now is, where did we go wrong?

   It seems to me that in the last 25 to 30 years our children have grown up alone, with no moral figures and no one to cling to when things get rough.  I say this in view of where I grew up, which is mainly rural.  When I was a kid it wasn’t the norm to have friends whose parents were divorced.  In fact, when my best friend told me her parents were getting one we were really worried that we might not be friends anymore.  I didn’t know anyone else whose biological parents weren’t together.  Using the term biological was usually reserved for adopted kids.  I was probably nine or ten before I found out my own dad had been divorced and that my older brother and sisters were really my half siblings.  I was told to keep it quiet, the whole neighborhood didn’t need to know.

   My mother worked.  I’m pretty sure she did part time work for a while and then full time when my dad had his heart attack.  I know she was home every day when I was a kid getting off the school bus.  We would walk in the door, drop our school bags on the floor, sit down and have snack and she would ask us how our day was.  Then we would run and change, do our chores, homework, eat dinner when dad got home, play and go to bed.  Dad would tuck us in and listen to our prayers.  Mom would get her tea and some quiet time with a book or a TV show.

   I look back now and I realize I had an idyllic childhood, not unlike something out of the Andy Griffith Show.  Our neighbors kept an eye on us when mom and dad might not be around, whether we knew it or not.  Someone called my mom when she saw me smoking in town when I was fifteen.  When I got home she was ready for me.  I still have no idea who told, but I knew someone was watching.

   We went to church as a family too.  I hated it, but every Sunday and church holiday, there we were.  Dad sang in the choir and he had an awesome voice.  I still love the church songs and I can still hear him in my mind singing them.  Mom always did the church groups and fund raisers.  They helped people and modeled the life they wanted us to live.

   My mom didn’t march on Washington.  She kept a good clean home, she made great meals from nothing, she read to us, fixed our hurts, monitored our television and our mouths, warned us of our actions and promptly punished us when warnings were ignored.  She taught us the lessons we needed to learn and gave us room to make mistakes.  She was there.

   It seems now, in this day and age, that we have the right to be everything except good mothers.  Sure there are some out there that get to stay home with their kids and live that life that a lot of us had, but there are a lot more that have to work to make ends meet.   There are a lot of single moms out there, by choice, that wanted it all and get home after a long day of school or work or both and just don’t get in the time that they want with their child(ren).  We’ve lost the right to raise our children in a two parent home, where one of us gets to stay home and take care of things on the “home front”.  The “home front” is now the “war zone” where we have to fight for time for dinner, for sports, for clubs, etc.  Our babysitter is the television with hundreds of channels or the internet with unlimited avenues or video games.  We had three TV stations – we were told to go outside and find something to do or something would be found for us.  We had to use our imagination. 

   Having our mom there gave us that.  She didn’t have to feel guilty about wanting to be there for us because she didn’t have to have it “all”.  What I don’t think she realized, and a lot of American women didn’t realize, was that they did have it all.  They had the best of it because they had a choice.  They could go out and work, or they could stay home.  There’s no choice now, not unless one is very wealthy or chooses to live very simply. 

   In my heart I believe the women’s rights movement did a lot for women.  We got the vote, we’ve passed some laws, we can get out and work in jobs traditionally held by men.  But socially, I feel it has broken down the family.  There was a reason women were nurturers and men were the providers.  There was a reason we held those roles. 

   I wish we could go back.  Just have a taste, see if the flavor is just as sweet as when I was growing up.  I know this piece has rambled, but I guess my point is this, by gaining all of these rights, women have lost the biggest right we had – to be a parent.  By losing our time to everything else we’ve lost that right and in doing so we are seeing a chain reaction in the loss of a cohesive society and a rise in violence.  Let’s give children back their two parent households with their moms at home.  I bet it makes a huge difference in twenty years time.