|BWS Stories - "Those Were the Days My Friends"...Women's Liberation|
"Those Were the Days My Friends"...Women's Liberation - What About the Children?
Marilyn is currently a studying with ICL as a children’s writer. She enjoys her stay-at-home status with her two daughters, husband and puppy.
What About the Children?
When I think of Baby Boomers, I think of the confusion thrust on me by my birth during this era. As an impressionable young girl in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I believed in Women’s Liberation. Typewriters replaced sewing machines – out went the factories and in came office worker. Gloria Steinem and other female activists made it clear women had rights in the workplace and are competent decision makers.
I grew comfortably within my career and did my job well. My reward was a paycheck at the end of the week, annual pay increases, and positive comments from bosses and co-workers.
However, no matter how firm the women’s movement declared independence, men continued to dominated the workplace and women worked twice as hard with less pay to meet the bosses’ and family demands. To complicate matters, the women’s movement never made it clear what happens to the children.
I spent most of my earlier adult life tossed between working and being home. I cursed the woman’s movement for poisoning my mind and giving me choices. Then, I became a single mom, and was fortunate to have a skill that allowed me to support my family. The choice was difficult, but simple. I had to work.
During the week, all I had time for was dinner, homework, bed. On the weekends, laundry, food shopping, and cleaning monopolized the hours. Taking the boys to the park, a movie, or share in their love for bowling was not an alternative. I’d dropped them off at the bowling alley and timed myself to see how much I could accomplish in two hours.
The years passed and my sons grew into good men, but I see sadness in their eyes even when they smile. My twenty-eight year-old won’t commit to his girlfriend of six years. My twenty-three-year-old struggles when a relationship gets too close.
As for my twenty-one-year-old, he tried to take his life last year. “I’m tired of feeling alone,” he later told me in the emergency room. He replaces his loneliness with women unworthy of his love, leaving him with feelings of abandonment, a feeling he knows well from childhood.
I know all too well, where his loneliness stems from. He is the one who cried, “Mommy, please stay home today. I miss you.” He once told me he wished I were home when he arrived home from school. I remember crying with him when I dropped him off on the first day of summer camp. I should be home for him, I told myself.
Do I blame myself? Yes, I do. I blame myself for not being there to protect my sons from the silent part of life. The part you touch with your hands, feel with your heart, or experience with your soul; the everyday family interaction. The parts not mentioned in the Women’s movement, when hugs, kisses, or tales of their day take place.
Eleven years ago, I remarried a wonderful man who helped me raise my sons, and gave me two beautiful daughters. Now I have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. I feel God has given me a second chance.
My ten-year-old daughter comes home from school and tells me who said what; or “how do I handle this friend who did this?” I get to know her friends and warn her about whom I think is a good friend, and of whom she should be careful. These issues are important.
I was available when my seven-year-old daughter came home crying because the teacher accused her of cheating on her spelling pretest. I had the time to sit with her and explain to her that the teacher was correct, and her own behavior was unacceptable.
Then, there are the hugs and kisses when they get off the school bus. My God, how I enjoy that! They enjoy it too. All these issues - forgotten by nightfall.
My advice to the world – pay attention to your children; listen to their stories, especially if you cannot be a stay-at-home parent. Let the cleaning go and don’t feel guilty. The house doesn’t feel pain or cry, or grow up with unresolved issues. No matter what your choice, working, or staying home, place your children first.
The struggle to balance work and family consumed my younger baby boomer years. Today, I have made a choice with the wisdom learned in my previous years that is comfortable for me. I am a proud stay-at-home mom.
My daughters are entering the next stage of their lives, and with a blink of an eye, they too will spread their wings. By then, I’m hoping to be a grandmother so I can sit back and enjoy the grandchildren, and spoil them rotten - the upside of my baby boomer years to come.