Friday, May 12, 2006

CHOICES

1966

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...

By choice.
__________________________________________________
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.

18 comments:

Ezzie said...

My wife was a big fan of the movie from a couple of years ago (Julia Roberts, Julia Stiles...). Serach has a Master's, but wants to - in a few years - stay home with our kid(s).

Irina Tsukerman said...

Great, constructive post. Interestingly, I saw something very similar on a different blog, but from the perspective of a working mom. My own mother has always worked, but would have preferred to stay at home. I intend to work full-time, not just because I'll need the money, but because I'm very interested in the area where I'm going and can't imagine myself staying at home. I understand all these different perspectives, and have always found it surprising that people attack each other's choices. After all, each person decides for herself and her own family. Why is it anyone else's business?

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day! : )

kasamba said...

What a touching post!!!
I was also obsessed with Marlo T- I think it was the eyeliner!

torontopearl said...

I was just a few years younger than you when I was watching and enjoying THAT GIRL. Didn't everyone want to be THAT GIRL?

CM: I also love your "purple prose"--you phrased it beautifully, but I'm of the belief that your dear mom didn't just give you and your sibling a piece of her heart. She had given your father a chunk of her heart and shared the remaining chunks with you and bro! Tell me I'm wrong... ;)

cruisin-mom said...

Ezzie: Mona Lisa Smile...good movie. I hope she is able to do whatever you both decide is best for your family.

Irina: Thanks! you're right...it's a very personal matter. I do feel sad when I see women so stressed because they are working outside the home, raising children, and tending to all the things that keep a home running. It is not easy.

Kasamba: Thank you. Yep, that was some eyeliner (false eyelashes too)

T.P.: (YOU'RE WRONG!) Just kidding...you told me to tell you that!
Thank you, that's so sweet and I think you are right.

Ezer K'negdo said...

Firstly, beautiful post. Really beautiful.
Secondly, I loved That Girl - the reruns, of course (sorry! :-))
Still love Marlo. What a great lady.
Again, beautiful post.

westbankmama said...

Wow - you reminded me that it is Mother's Day in America (here in Israel there is a "politically correct" family day in February). Happy mom's day to everyone from Israel!

Wendy said...

It rings so true. I was a huge That Girl fan myself. "Oh, Donald!" And I, too, worked like crazy to make a career. I had all intentions to stay on that track after kids. But I didn't. I quit my "perfect" job on the track of my dreams and started a business that would allow me to be with my kids. I've never been happier.

I thank my mom all the time for the time, love and dedication she gave to me and my siblings. She was always there and it meant a lot to me. I hope my kids think of me that way one day.

Wonderful post. Thanks.

PsychoToddler said...

1966 was a good year for me.

Nice post. Happy Mother's day!

cruisin-mom said...

E.K. Thank you. I love Marlo still, too. (and thanks for rubbing in the part about RERUNS)

W.B.M.: Actually, I like the idea of a family day better. Thanks to all of Israel (and you!) for the good wishes.

Wendy: glad you found the road that makes you the happiest. And, I think your kids already think you are wonderful.

P.T.: were you even a zygote in 1966?!!
Glad you liked the post.

Janet said...

Crusin-Mom...

I just dropped by because of a oomment you left on Wendy's blog.

GREAT post. I've told friends and family MANY times that it was because of Marlo's character than I wanted so badly to live in NYC myself when I grew up -- and at the ripe old age of 34 in 1986, I did just that! Wonderful. Your post brings back a lot of memories for me, too.

Keep up the great writing, and I'll come back from time to time to read what you're up to!

Janet

(lordcelery.blogspot.com)

cruisin-mom said...

Janet: Welcome! thanks for your comment...Marlo was more of an inspiration than I knew!!! I think you'd appreciate my post with Austin Powers at the top... living in Great Britain and all.
I am always happy to meet an Amer.Idol fan!

Head over heel said...

Thank you for this interesting post and I can only agree, aren't we lucky to live in an area of the world where we can choose and not been told what to do, especially as women. Something interesting happend over time here in Switzerland: A few decades ago people looked strange at a working mom (like she was neglecting her kid(s)totally judgemental) and today they think you're totally against Feminism if you're not working one or two days a week. Strange how time changed!!!

Sheyna Galyan said...

Beautiful! And so true. Our family has made the choice to do without things that others around us have because I want to be home with my children. At the same time, I wanted to be productive and work.

I love what you said about being the architects of our lives, because that's exactly what I did - creating a career out of my skills and talents that I can do at home with my children. Of course this creates other problems, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'd like to think that with choice, we can all find what works for us and our families. But I also recognize that for many moms, choice is limited and not every mom can do exactly what she wants with regard to career and/or children.

Consequently, what choices we have are often hard enough, and it saddens me to see the rifts created when we turn on each other.

Wonderful post, and a belated Happy Mother's Day!

cruisin-mom said...

HOH: true...times really do change how we view things.

Sheyna: WELCOME! thanks for your comment...I agree with all you said.
(by the way, have read your site...love it!)

JMK2006 said...

What an ... honorable Mother's Day post! I couldn't agree with you more that there is always a price to pay with choice. My mother and grandmothers are long passed away. The one grandmother I knew worked by choice in the 50s and 60s, while my mother worked definitely by necessity, from ages 16 to 63. You bring back memories, a reminder that the day is not just for "other people". Thanks.

Sweettooth120 said...

Randi, you really are a terrific writer. You have such a way with words and evoking emotions, whether it be tears of joy, sadness or laughter.

I love That Girl when I was little. I loved her hair, clothes and name. It was rank right up there with Family Affair (I always wanted a Mrs. Beasley doll.)

*SPOILER ALERT*
Though this isn't totally related to your post, it does have to do with tv shows. DIDN'T YOU JUST MELT with that kiss between Meredith and McDREAMY! WOW! Finn is very cute, no doubt, but I just LOVE those dark hair men. Boy is he ever DELICIOUS!

cruisin-mom said...

jmk2006: thanks for your kind words and thanks for sharing that about your grandmother and mother. Your mom certainly put in her time.

S.T.: thank you for such a compliment!Oy!
I loved everything about That Girl, can't think of anything I didn't love.
And, yes...Grey's Anatomy was sooooo good last night...I'm so pissed it's the end of the season :(
But I hate what Meredith did to Finn...he was ready to make PLANS!!!