Imagine discovering you are pregnant and realizing you have to keep it as secret as long as possible or risk losing your job. You are not a nun, but a bookkeeper in an Agricultural office. You are married, a newlywed in fact, and 24 years old. What would possibly warrant termination due to pregnancy then? Because it is 1960. In Midwest America. And you are (obviously) a woman.
My mom told me this story many years ago and after I gathered my jaw from the floor, I stammered and stuttered, "But why???" This equation did not compute in my brain. She went on to further explain that "especially teachers" could not be seen in front of children pregnant. This was just how it was and you did not have a choice. You hid it until you were found out, and then were done working.
My mom was born in 1936, today she would have been 79. To many of my parenting peers, she would be their grandmother's not mother's age. She graduated in 1955 and lived with her great friend in an apartment, working and living on her own, until 1960 when she married my Dad. The average age of a woman getting married in this time was 20. She was 24 when she married my Dad and her outside-the-norm journey to marriage and motherhood is something I appreciate more and more as I myself age.
I share this story and information because I think there exists a lack of understanding by many to the way it used to be for women. My Mother and Mother in Law are both of the same generation, but I have friends whose Mothers are a full generation younger, and that one generation made all the difference in the world between understanding how life was, and is now, for women.
Prior to the Women's Liberation Movement, it was nearly impossible for women to have mortgages, their own credit cards, their own bank accounts. Essentially women went from being under their father to under their husband. Pregnancy was not considered natural or beautiful, but something that resulted from *gasp* sex, thus was slightly obscene. Women were judged for, well, being women. My appreciation of Women's Lib (not said in a snarled face of disgust like I have seen from some 80 year old Men) comes from their fight, their struggle to demand to be treated as equals, not as a Woman, like it was a diagnosable condition. Women were tired of being judged by their looks, their actions, their thoughts. They were tired of double standards. They were fed up with being considered slightly higher than an angsty teen who was still in need of a spanking if they "got out of line." Men entrusted them to carry their children, but not to make any decisions. They were done with being told "you can't" because for no other reason than they were born a female.
So why, WHY, for the love of our Mothers, have we engaged ourselves in the Mommy Wars??? This is so completely confounding to me. You would be hard pressed to find a Man under 40 who could tell you what a woman's role "ought to be." We have all been told from birth we can be astronauts or parents or teachers or police officers. ALL of us, male and female, have been told that. We don't have men telling us what we should do, or how we should do it. So, we decided to be our own worst enemy and beat up on each other? This all seems so counterproductive to the hell our mothers, aunts, and others went through to NOT BE JUDGED. Why are we doing this to ourselves?
Women's Lib fought so hard to gain the opportunity of CHOICE. They begged, demanded, screamed for the choice to use their abilities, skills, intelligence and passions to do what they CHOSE, not what was expected of them. They fought so we could go and have a career, or stay at home with our kids. They fought so we could breastfeed our baby in public, or their Daddy could give their baby a bottle without being mocked. They fought, kicking and screaming for choices.
So I offer this up, if you can't give up the battle from your side of the Mommy Wars because of your own convictions, give them up for those who went ahead of us. We are all united as Moms. Whether we carried them in our hearts or under our hearts, there is a bond that is inexplicably powerful we share as Mothers. It is something that can not be understood by those who do not have children. It is the thing that makes the story of a cat adopting chicks completely make sense. How we choose to mother or parent is based on our experiences, our education, our upbringing, our talents, skills and passions. The very things the women before us wanted to base their choices upon. Let's honor them, and each other by embracing choice, supporting each other and stop being our own worst tormentors.
If you are exhausted from the nonsensical "Mom Wars" I invite you to sign the petition created by my friend over at Next Life No Kids!