I fully recognize that I can be a mystery. I’m fiercely independent and outspoken, except when I need to take a break and let someone else handle things. I despise being told what to do, unless I’m so exhausted that every last brain cell has shut down and then yes, I need you to tell me what we’re having for dinner because I am literally incapable of choosing. I want what I want, except sometimes I actually have no idea at all what I want, so those times I might ask you to make the decision. This is not some ploy to trap you into being “controlling” so I can bust you for being bossy. Truthfully, there are simply some moments when I have absolutely no opinion whatsoever — a tricky juggling act for someone who also knows me as independent and outspoken. See? A mystery.
So I was reminded lately (delicately clear throat) that I may possibly have been a wee bit overenthusiastic in my youth when it came to feminism and women’s roles in the world. (I know, those of you who’ve known me forever are shocked by this.) At first I was highly offended — What? Me?! My beliefs have always been well thought out, deeply personal convictions that I came to after much deliberation. But then…
Well, let’s just lay it out there, shall we? Then I realized that I engaged in some truly crazy-ass feminist arguments in my twenties. As in, dig in my heels, heated discussions late into the night, hard-core beliefs that I was dead sure were right and I was going to talk until I was blue in the face so BrightSide would see the light. (Oh, yes, BS witnessed all of these transitions. Many of them caused him no end of amusement. Which he was smart enough to hide from me until I developed a better sense of humor about myself.) So let’s review my feminist growth as years of wisdom affected the rock solid convictions of youth:
20s: “Don’t think you’ll be driving everywhere just because we’re married. I’m a grown woman; I’m perfectly capable of driving when we go out, so don’t just assume I’ll be riding shotgun because I’m a girl.”
40s: “What? Sure, you should drive. Whatever. Wake me up when we get there, okay?” (That 20 minute power nap can be invaluable.)
20s: “NO, you’re not pumping my gas. Don’t be ridiculous; I can pump my own gas!”
40s: “You’d like to stand in the cold wind, inhaling gas fumes while you fill up the tank? Why, SURE, honey. Thanks.” (I can’t begin to remember why I cared about pumping the damn gas. I hate the smell. I hate the process. WTH?!)
20s: “Just because I’m the wife don’t assume I’ll be doing all the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. We’re partners in this thing; you’ll have to pull your own weight, buddy.”
40s: As a stay-at-home mom, the reality is that I’m the one here. My 30s were a tough transition, shifting from being a working spouse (who by necessity split household duties with the other adult) to a SAHM with babies and toddlers underfoot. Yes, I was a SAHM, but keeping a house running and learning to do the mom thing took all my energy. Now that the kids are older (and I have landed in my 40s), I see the reality. I am here. He is at the office. So who else is going to get all this shit done? (Of course, I’m not afraid to cry mercy if I need reinforcements.)
20s: “Don’t assume I’ll be staying up all night with the babies just because I’m the one with a uterus!”
40s: So this one actually worked out as planned — not so much due to feminist convictions or equal rights as pure necessity. Logistically, as the person who was staying home and didn’t have the responsibility of firing on enough cylinders to bring home a good paycheck, I really should have stepped up and handled more of the night duty. I do not function well on lack of sleep, to put it mildly, so for the safety of our children BS shared night duties from the start.
20s: “DO NOT GIVE ME THAT CRAP about women being physically inferior. Women are physically equal in every way to men.” No suggested scenario, no matter how wild, could sway me from this opinion.
40s: (Okay, between you and me, this one still gives me a hitch in my stomach. I mean, I literally can’t say a sentence like the one above. This is the best I can do.) “Biologically, in their peak condition, a man can do more physically than a woman. However, a woman in peak condition can outperform a man in less than peak condition.”
So…people change, right? I look back on these with a 40+ mind and smile. It makes me wonder what I’ll think of today’s me in twenty more years…