My mother was my first feminist role model. I mean she was no Gloria Steinem, but she was my first memory of seeing a woman doing the things only men were supposed to do as men told women to do them. She was that woman who could and did bring home the bacon and then fry it up in a pan. As soon as I started preschool, mom started working on her associates in business. Then she went right on into the work force where she struggled just like all the other women to balance work and home and being a "good" mother. She was my first example of a woman having pride in her work. She didn't just have a job because we needed the money. We did at times really need the money, but her job gave her a special sense of purpose. She was the first woman in my life to teach me those things were possible.
In fourth grade, I fell off the top of the monkey bars and broke my arm during lunch recess. My mom worked as a greeting cards rep for American Greeting at the time. She had to travel all over Oklahoma visiting stores that sold American Greeting cards. Dad was working in a top secret area of American Airlines. It probably wasn't really top secret, but he couldn't get phone calls. The school didn't have any phone records for me. They couldn't get a hold of either parent. The only thing they could do was send someone over to the high school to fetch my sister. Janell sat with me in the principal's office and patted my back while I rested my head on a desk and cried. We sat there until my dad got off work at 3:30. My mom was so upset that there hadn't been a way for the school to contact her about my broken arm that she went to the greeting card company and demanded they provide her with a cell phone. This would have been somewhere around 1985. From then on my mom drove around with this giant cell phone/bag contraption in her car so that she could be reached in cases of emergencies.
I know she felt bad about all of that. I know she felt guilt for not being there and knowing that I sat for so long with out medical attention and in serious pain. I know it's something that truly bothered her. I'd like to think I was not the kind of child that ever said anything to her about her not being there. I don't remember being overly upset about her not being there, but to be fair I was in some pain and things are blurry from that day. I do know that I never told her that I was OK with her not being there. I never said "hey, really, it's OK Mom." Because it was. I probably should have told her that. I probably should tell her that. I should tell her that I know she would have been there in a heart beat if they had been able to contact her. I also know that her job wasn't just important to her, but without her income, I would have missed out on soooo much. I should say to her that it was Dad's turn. Mom was there through all of the crap with the first broken arm. She was the one who took me to countless doctors appointments, to get my tonsils out, to the allergists. She was the one who took me to get my wisdom teeth out and was the one who dealt with the skin crawling incident that resulted from the pain meds they gave me after my wisdom teeth surgery. I am thankful that she was there, but more importantly, I am thankful that she is the type of mom who wants to be there. Because really, she has always been there when it truly mattered to me.
I hope she has a lovely and relaxed Mother's Day and I hope that all the seeds I sent her are thriving. Just like me.
Happy Thankful Friday!