Saturday, April 18, 2009

All the mommies

This week my 4-year-old grandson Gavin had a visitor come to his Montessori preschool. It was the mother of his classmate Paxton.

"Paxton's mommy drives an airplane!" Gavin exclaimed when he got into the car. "She flies to Asia, Russia, New York and Mexico."

And indeed she does. She's a pilot for Delta Airlines, and she told the children all about the cockpit, the check list, and the stars on a captain's uniform. She also gave them balsa wood airplanes with "Delta" on them and Delta pencils that change color when rubbed vigorously by small hands.

Gavin chattered about this most of the afternoon as we put the small wooden plane together and flew it in the front yard, the living room, and the back yard. When part of the tail broke off, Gavin took to running with the plane in his hands, making airplane noises and telling me that "Now Paxton's mommy is doing a loop! And now she's flying over the ocean!"

For Gavin, a woman as an airline pilot is an interesting piece of information that makes for a fun afternoon of pretend. For me, it was a yet another satisfying resolution to years of advocating for women's equality in the workplace.

The mommies of Gavin's friends include stay-at-home moms, lawyers, teachers, physicians, sales executives and women who work in all manner of professions. One woman he considers a personal friend is a state senator.

This is the new normal.

But it is a hard-fought-for and hard-won normal.

The mommies of these mommies worked and lobbied hard so that their daughters and their daughter's daughters would have opportunities that were denied to us and to our mothers.

I remember the exact second I became a feminist. It was the moment the nurse handed me my newborn daughter. I held her and said, "Hello baby. I'm your mommy."

And this little squinched-up bundle of humanity opened the most amazing blue eyes I have ever seen and looked directly at me. Our eyes met and it felt like a bolt of electricity went through my body. This was my little girl.

From that moment on, I knew I would do whatever I had to do to insure her life was filled with all good things. I wanted her to be able to be all she was capable of being.

Well, it seems other mommies of other baby girls were having similar experiences. We were part of the Women's Movement. The media and other women derided us as "women libbers" and "bra burners" and, of course, man haters.

The media is only now realizing that it was never about hating men. It was always about loving women and women's abilities, about allowing them to explore all life can offer if they are willing to work hard enough to reach their goals.

For me, the definition of feminist is a person who believes that women and men are made in the image of God. And as such, both women and men are deserving of respect and opportunity.

I adore my grandsons. I want the same opportunities for them that I want for their female friends. I want little Paxton to have as many opportunities as I want for Gavin. She is as much the future of our country as is he.

So hooray for Paxton's mommy, and for all the mommies -- of whatever race, creed or color -- who are working hard to keep the promise of a nation where all are created equal. If we keep this up, we may yet make that promise come true for all women and men, all girls and boys.


Leonard said...

¨...working hard to keep the promise of a nation where all are created equal.¨

Amen (it´s ALL do-able as you have graciously pointed out)

Thank you

judyalter said...

Thanks, Katie. You have button-holed how far we've come since our daughters--and sons--were born. I don't think about this often enough, because I assume equality is here. You make me realize, there's still some fighting to be done, some progress to be made.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hooray for Gavin's grandmother! Hooray for all the grandmothers before us who made it possible for Paxton's mom to be who she is and Gavin's mom to be who she is so that Gavin and Paxton can be more fully who they are. Let us not forget that it is the bridge made of our grandmothers' backs which we walk over into a better future.

Frank Remkiewicz aka “Tree” said...

While the gap may be shrinking for women in general I see single family moms who work two or three jobs each and every day just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. I know mommies that are still fighting the fight -- I know mommies that use drugs and walk the streets -- I am hopeful that the fight continues especially in the socio-economic trenches -- there is still a whole bunch to be done!

Muthah+ said...

i read your post to my great niece, age 17. Her mom owns her own morgage company. She was sigularly unimpressed by your article. I guess that is a good sign. I would like her to know what the struggle was like--but at the same time I don't want her to endure the struggle.

Nice piece