Sunday, October 28, 2007

I've alway known what I want to be - so why did I become so many other things instead?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was ten years old. I don't remember ever thinking it over - I just knew. So why is it that I have studied and worked and practiced to be so many other things instead?

Despite a deep love for all books, I never really wanted to be a librarian. Yet I've spent the last 25 years sitting behind a desk in a public library.

Although I love history and have alway enjoyed family stories, I never had any intention of becoming even an amateur genealogist. And yet, I'm on the board of the Missouri Genealogical Association and I spend quite a bit of time doing genealogy research. I never intended to be a genealogy speaker. But I've given genealogy presentations in four different counties.

I certainly never expected to design web sites. But almost as soon as web sites appeared I was deep into learning all about it. Why did I do that?

I want to write. I want to BE a writer. Always have wanted that with all my heart. But I spend my days being a librarian and way too many of my evenings being a genealogist and a web

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Can we really 'do it all'? Why did we think we wanted to?

During the sixties I was a typical Missouri country girl. I married in late 1963 and spent the rest of the decade barefoot and pregnant. I raised a garden, sewed clothes for my kids, and even attended extension classes to learn proper canning methods. I didn't work, or even drive.Then the seventies came along. I was a charter subscriber to Ms magazine in 1972. I started thinking about my life in a way I never had before. I was no longer happy being "just" a good wife and mother. I wanted more. I wanted a career. I wanted to be a great writer. I wanted to "find myself". I wanted perfect sex. I wanted to decide which channel we would watch on TV. I wanted to go braless.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying Ms Magazine put all those ideas into my head. The women's movement was everywhere in those days. It was in the newspapers and magazines, on TV, and it was something we all talked about wherever women gathered. We began to think we had a right to want more than we had.What we wnted most was the right to make decisions about our own life. It was a fact that women did not have that right. Everyone knew it. We would say things like "my husband won't let me cut my hair" or "her husband let her get a job".

My own husband felt there were only two reasons why any woman would want to go to work: either her husband was not able to make enough to take care of the family, or she wanted to earn her own living so she could leave him. This was a deeply felt belief for him, just as it was for many men. He couldn't articulate it, and for many years I couldn't understand why he was so dead set against letting me have a job of my own. We had bitter arguments about it, especially after all the children were in school and I was at home alone on the farm all day. It was 1979 before he gave in to the idea. He let me get a job. So, you can see right there that I never have really managed to become a liberated woman.

Over the years I've picked some rights I really wanted and let others slide. I've worked since 1979. I have my own car and my own bank account. I wear my hair short even though I know he likes it long. But I don't think I'll ever get to decide which channel to watch. The women's movement opened up a whole world of possibilities for my daughters and my granddaughters. I am happy for them. But I'm also a little sorry that they will never know the world we gave away. Years ago I wote a poem about it.


I followed down the narrow path
carefully placing my feet
just where he stepped,
where he paused,
single file.
Sometimes he looked back,
and called me
I didn't mind.
Not at all.
he took his pocket knife,
cut wild roses growing
cross the way
to save my arms
from scratches.
In winter,
he made his steps shorter,
trod down all the snow
to make the going easier
for me.
When my breath still came hard and fast,
he stopped,
watched a hawk fly 'cross the sky,
waited quietly 'til I said
"let's go,
I'm okay."
One Fall,
when the stream was running full,
he found a log to carefully balance on
while the water rushed beneath our feet.
I grasped his hand
to clamber up the bank,
and waited, later, while he checked some
swampy ground, to see if we should cross
or go around.
When he said
"come on"
I did.
Stepping carefully
where he stepped,
where he paused,
I didn't mind. Not at all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Why do I let myself make so many promises?

I have too many hats to wear - or I have my finger in too many pies - or some other well worn cliche that means I have too much I'm SUPPOSED to do and not enough time to do any of it right.

Tonight I'm wearing my "librarian" hat because I'm at work. But I'm slipping into my "writer" hat for few minutes while I'm on break so I can get some blogging/venting done. At 9 pm when I get off I need to find my "grandma" hat and go watch my granddaughter play ball for an hour or two. Afterward, driving home and collapsing into bed with my ever-lovin' old man, I have to see if I can find my "good wife" hat. But if I can't find it and can only come up with my witch hat, I know he'll hang in there just like he has for the last 43 years.

If I get up extra early tomorrow, maybe I can sneak a half hour in my State genealogy "board member" hat and try to work on that slide show for the conference next week.