What I would have given to be That Girl!
I loved Marlo Thomas. She had everything an 11 year old girl could possibly dream of.
I thought she was beautiful. She was funny and smart and wanted to be an actress (well, her character did. She had already made it).
Her boyfriend in the show (Donald) was so nice and sweet; caring and attentive; and willing to put up with all her bubble-headedness. She was making it on her own and on her own terms.
She was the original Mary Richards (MaryTylerMoore show).
She was perfect!
As far as I can remember, she was the first female television character to strike out on her own.
She had not been married, widowed or divorced. Just a single woman trying to make it in the big bad world.
This was a time when women were ready to burst at the seams and become all they could be.
My role model had been my stay-at-home mom...until becoming a widow, when she had to go back to work. A few years later, circumstances would allow her to stay home again.
It gave me a chance to experience both worlds...stay-at-home vs. working mom.
I liked it better when my mom was home. It felt warmer, safer... especially at a time when things in my life had been turned upside down.
But I understood that she needed to work. It was necessary for our well-being. Children have a great capacity to understand more than we think. But because of that, sometimes we expect more out of them than they are really ready to handle.
In a sense, my mother had become "That Girl" at the same time as Marlo Thomas. But certainly not because she wanted to. She was widowed at such a young age...all her dreams shattered. Believe me, she had no desire to become "That Girl".
The feminist movement was gaining momentum, offering to bring choice, opportunity, and independence for women.
That was 40 years ago. Where are we today?
Women are often demeaned if they choose to stay home...just the opposite of the 1950's. Women who stay home, often criticize those who work outside the home. And yet, we are supposed to be able to choose.
It seems there is always a price to pay with choice.
Maybe we have too much choice today. Maybe it was better when roles were carefully defined and layed out for us. Maybe too much choice causes too much confusion.
Subsequently, male roles have changed as well. Men are not always sure how to behave. Should they be strong and independent? Should they be emotional and needy?
Of course, if they're too strong, we accuse them of being uncaring, unemotional, non-communicative. If they're too emotional, we accuse them of being weak, wussy, whimpy.
Oh brother, how can a guy win?!
I suppose the answer regarding choice is this (in my humble a opinion)...
No matter what the outcome...no matter the discomfort or hostility it may bring...I believe choice is better.
Without choice, you can't grow. You can't reach your potential. You can't spread your wings and fly.
My fascination with "That Girl" was probably just that...I saw in her the chance to become something different. I saw that it was possible to spread my wings and fly.
I know most women today, do not have the luxury of choosing to stay home. Supporting a family can rarely be done with a single salary.
But my parent's generation was much more willing to go without the luxuries that we baby-boomers will not do without. (so much for anti-establishment, anti-materialism, and a general distrust of people over 30)
My mother has often told me how dinner in a restaurant was a rare treat. Going out on a Saturday night?...have you heard of a blue moon? One t.v. was all you needed. Vacations, which were few, were a ride in the car somewhere, certainly not on a plane.
My parents stretched a teacher's salary farther than you can pull silly putty. All because my mother's dream was to stay home with her children.
So is it by choice that women work outside the home? Or is it out of necessity? Do women work to fulfill a need for independence and identity? Or is it because they cannot make ends meet otherwise?
Whichever way, I commend all of us. Because there is no harder job than being a mom. No job can tug at your heart, or fill it up more.
And whether there is a right or wrong way to do it(stay-at-home or work outside the home)...who knows. I'm sure there are studies and statistics that will prove the validity of either side.
So, where are we 40 years later?
Well, when it was my turn, I decided (being a woman of the 60's and 70's), I would avail myself of all the opportunities.
I went away to college. Acquired two degrees. Began a career. And then married and had children. My wings had significantly spread. I knew that I could be the *architect* of my own life.
The funny thing is, even after all the *blue prints* had been drawn, and I had spread my wings...
I stayed home to raise our children...
If you are a mom, I wish you a happy mother's day...
Whether you stay home or work outside the home...you are special.
Here is what I believe: When your child comes to you, whether by giving birth or through adoption, a little piece of your heart gently breaks off and goes to that child. For the remainder of your life, you will never again feel or think just of yourself. You are forever changed.
To my mom...thank you for the piece of your heart that you gave to me.