My heart is warmed often by tales of RPW learning femininity from generations before us, from mothers, grandmothers, and the millions of women still living to tell the tale of those many years before the modern women was corrupted with feminism, arrogance, and pursuit of independence from men. While I have learned so much from so many women, including both of my grandmothers, I unfortunately don’t have a mother whose shoes I wish to fill.
My parents are both engineers, having worked for the same national laboratory for the entire breadth of their careers. My father once mentioned to me that he sees so many bright young women with big eyes and bigger dreams entering their careers, only to become bitter, competitive, and resentful twenty years down the line (if not sooner). Unfortunately, my mother was one of those women.
I have distinct memories of her warmth and grace from when I was a young girl, her soft touch, and bright smile. That woman now exists only in my memories and in pictures from years ago. As time went on, something inside of her changed. She became cold. Unresponsive to my sister and I. Rude and demanding to my father. Her smile faded, and a persistent scowl took its place. It got to the point where my father fell out of love with her, and left her for another woman. While I hated my father at the time for leaving, I can’t help but understand and feel compassion for him, and a part of me is thankful for it because otherwise, I would have had a complete misunderstanding about what marriage, love, and wives should be.
My mother, like many women out there, is now in her late fifties, in her third marriage, this time to a dreadful man with a nasty temper and little consideration for anyone but himself. She even told me a few months before the wedding that at her age, you sort of have to take whatever you can get if you don’t want to be alone.
I often admit to my own man that my biggest fear in life is becoming her.
While I’m pursuing my own career, in nursing (a profession my mother considers “pink collar”) I hope to continually prioritize my future husband, children, and role at home. Will that be enough?
It worries me to see what has happened to her, especially since she used to be so full of light. I recently found a picture of my parents together before my sister and I were born. She’s looking up at him, with so much admiration and love. I sent it to my dad, and he told me later that he had cried for the first time in a very long time, remembering who she used to be.
Thank you, RPW, for providing such a positive feminine community. I hope to continue actively pursuing these strengths within myself, and every day I wear my grandmother’s necklace around my neck to remind myself of the many other amazing women I’ve come from. I’m not my mother, and I hope to learn from her mistakes instead of following her path.