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My Mother Accidentally Raised a Feminist (Part 2)

The original article was written for one of my Women’s Studies Courses (I minored in WS); tonight the topic of the Bronte Sisters brought the idea back.

Mom hated Jane Eyre.  She talks about it as if she is in high school and just read it yesterday.  Her biggest beef is that they told each other how ugly they were. 

I hated Wuthering Heights.  All that dying for love nonsense.  I was introduced to Shakespeare via Romeo and Juliet.  My ninth grade self thought, all of this could have been avoided if they had just talked to their parents.  At this point I still told my mother everything (late bloomer).

My mother never wanted to be a strong woman; she thought she was weak and needed a strong man.  Instead, she moved to a big city (LaGrange to Atlanta) and was single ’til 32 (gasp, this was the early 70’s).  She married a man who looked strong on the surface, but turned out to be incredibly weak.  A family history of mental illness culminated in a complete nervous breakdown when he was 39, forcing Mom (a housewife since my birth 12 years prior) back into the workforce.

Mom didn’t want to go back to work.  She didn’t want to mow the grass.  She did both because Pop couldn’t/wouldn’t.  When something was broken, Pop threw his hands up.  Mom was the one who was willing to “take a look at it.”

As much as I loved Nancy Drew, I remember being annoyed that in each book she wound up tied up in a closet waiting to be rescued.  Seriously, what kind of a sleuth is that?  The few Trixie Belden books I read I liked much better.  She never had to be saved by her boyfriend.  I don’t know why I had these ideas so young, except that I already realized that my mother WAS the rescuer.

My mother WAS my best friend until I became an adult.  She gave up any sort of social life when she married (she thought that’s what happened, and I’m not sure she had much of one anyway) and I was her friend from birth. 

I remember when I began to grow distant from my mother; it was when I started becoming sexually aware.  She came from a very old school about sex (something to be endured) and I was reading Romance novels imagining something else altogether.  I think it was harder on her than me because I made friends, many who were surrogate mothers.  She was home with a house full of men.

Some times (okay, most of the time) it is hard for me to respect my father because of the way he has forced/allowed my mother to be his work horse.  When Mom talks about her ideal man for me, it sounds like she is describing my father, which makes me recoil and dream of being a lesbian.  I like my father, and we get along NOW (since I became a stubborn adult) but he’s a lazy bastard.

Now the “dying for love” story makes more sense.  I’ve seen a couple of films that believably portrayed couples who had been together for years.  Iris was one; Playing by Heart is another. . . and oh, yes, The Notebook.  Mostly, I think the idea of true love works better if somebody dies before they get to know each other too well.


About clocklearf

I've wanted to be a writer since the third grade.


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