Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where Are The Cunninghams?

The good old days.  The days of awesome dresses, cocktails before dinner, matching bedspreads and curtains, everything in order.  I wish I had been an adult in that time.  I caught the very tail of it as a child visiting my aunt.  I remember the gold bedspreads and the gold curtains in the guest room.  I remember never seeing my aunt without her make-up or robe in the morning.  I remember the adult women and men sitting and talking as children found something to occupy themselves.  We were not entertained.  The most interaction we had in that regard was an introduction to a game or book.  Then the adult walked away and we were left to our own devices.


I wish I had thought of this stuff when I decided to have a child.  I don’t know why I thought I could do it on my own, that it would be fine for my child to grow up with a dad that wasn’t married to me.  Maybe all the crap I read in WE magazine really wasn’t true.  I was very progressive at that age.  I had an aunt who was very pro-women’s rights.  She had chosen not to marry and have children.  She had chosen a career.  She was able to support herself and her aging mother.  She could travel with her sister when she felt like it.  She answered to no one, except maybe her publisher or her boss at the school where she taught English.  I always thought she was having a secret affair with her editor.  Now, as I look back, I realize she was probably a lesbian.  Who knew? 

But I digress.   I wish we could turn back time and live life like it was a Happy Days episode.  When Mrs. Cunningham had dinner on the table and Mr. Cunningham could be counted on to lead his family in the right direction.  Where a heart to heart was taken seriously by Richie and Joanie and the morals of the family, while tested at times, were what kept them all on the straight and narrow.  When time wasn’t disposable.  I wish I had thought to give my child that life.  I wish I hadn’t made the choice to be a “modern” woman with a child.  I should have realized that in order to be that woman I should do it without a child.  Once that child was born I should have given it more – more dad, more lessons, more morals, and less - less material, less freedom, less choice.


I thought the more I let her listen to what she wanted to listen to, the more I let her make choices, the more independent and strong she would be.  It didn’t turn out that way.  She turned into a spoiled, potty-mouthed teenager that clung to the wrong guys and married a man almost twice her age.  And now she’s sitting in jail, for a crime I never pictured her committing.

I feel that if America revisits traditional values, the golden rule, common courtesy and the like, that maybe we can start to turn our nation around.  Maybe we wouldn’t be so violent.  Kids would grow up with a male presence in the household.  Moms wouldn’t have to brag that they are both mom and dad (which I can’t stand to hear, although I stated it as well at one point).  Women wouldn’t be looking for help saying “Well I am a single mother!”  I have hated that statement from day one.  I myself never used the phrase and didn’t use it as an excuse either.  I chose to be what I was – I walked away from a relationship that didn’t seem fixable, and since we weren’t married it made it all the easier – on me.  Unless someone is widowed, it should never be used.  So many women walked into my office and said that and I wanted to say that it was their choice, but couldn’t because I would lose my job.  It’s NOT an excuse ladies. 

I wish that we could let women stay home and nurture their children and not make them think that they had to be MORE.  Did yesterday’s women not realize that being with their children, nurturing them, teaching them, was way more important than a career?  Look at our world – how is this better?

Mrs. Cunningham was a respected woman in her home.  She was a loved mother and wife and friend.  Sometimes she had to show Howard what she wanted instead of making him guess and being strong was a character trait of hers.  He also knew the golden rule of “Happy wife, happy life” and he treated her well.  We could all take a lesson. 
Women weren't as mean as we are now too.  We didn't have to be.  There was more emphasis on friendships.  We actually leaned on our friends.  We had time to be with them.  We helped them with their children, problems, recipes.  The closeness we used to have has been filled by work relationships and I have found that once you leave that employment, those friendships are not far behind.

I realize the Cunningham’s weren’t real people, only characters in a sitcom, but I feel they were based on real people and a way of life that was ideal, but real nonetheless.  Perhaps we should explore going back to this time when we were a kinder, gentler population.  Go back to the good old days…