Monday, March 03, 2008

Strong and Stubborn


Strong and Stubborn

Introduction~
I have always loved but been scared of my mom. She is a very stubborn, smart, beautiful, adventurous, patient, relaxed, open minded and talented song writer/guitarist i know. She is very strong on her beliefs. I respect her for having the most patience in the world. Of corse most people think that their mom is the best, but looking at her and how she takes in the world and responds to it, makes me respect her even more.

Q~Could you tell me something about your life right now?
A~ I feel content with the variety of the activities in my life and think that they reflect a range of my creative interests. My children are young adults now; that gives me a little more time for myself than i used to have when they were little.

Q~ What was life like for you as a girl? Or as a little girl?
A~ I have three younger brothers and have helped take care of them quite a bit during our younger years together. As a little girl, one way i remember trying to get my parents attention was to get the highest grades possible in school and be a good child. I had a safe, stuburban childhood with close neighbors and loving family.

Q~ What kind of challenges do you think women face in society?
A~ Although women have made inroads into male dominated industries, i think that women will always face the added challenge of being the primary caregiver in the home and trying to balence excellence in their profession, personal lives, and other activites. No matter how equal things appear the bulk of the responsibility will always fall to the women. I don't think many men have to think about how they will pick up the kids after work, make diner, help with homework, make birthday cupcakes, and seek advancement in the workplace all in one day.

Q~ Have you faced any challenes as a woman?
A~ Yes, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially- but challenges help me grow and know myself better.

Q~ What challenges have you faced as working woman?
A~ As a working woman who got her college degrees in her 40's i think that my current professional challenge is to catch up with my peeers who finished college in thier 20's. I think i will always be challenged to strike a healthy balence between my work and family goals and commitments.

Q~ What big experiences have you survived as a woman>
A~ Marriage, childbirth/parenting, divorce, finishing two college degrees as a single working mother, and creating a new family through my recent marriage.

Q~ What was your biggest challenge growing up in your family?
A~Being the only girl and also being the eldest, I became a caregiver at a young age. I also felt like my parents had very high expectations for my school performance.

Q~ What challenges have you faced as a mother?
A~ The earlier parenting years seemed so easy in comparison to raising teenagers. Over all i think the biggest challenges as a mother are to allow my young adult children to find their own way in the world learning their own success and bad decisions, and to trust that each of them will find a path that brings them joy.

Q~Do you think that women are seen n the same light as men? And could you share some examples.
A~ The simple fact that women are aren't allowed to go shirtless in public is an example of the double standards for sexuality that America has for men and women, It seems like that the over all standard for women's behavior are defined by how men would like to see them. I am continually surprised and disappointed by how, even in modern times, women's socially constructed roles are still narrowly defined.

Q~(If older) Could you share some differences you see in the younger generation? Or could you compare the generations.
A~ I think with the media explosion, women now more than ever have the sense of entitlement based on how they perceive themselves to be physically attractive. It seems now more than ever women, not just famous women, focus on their appearance as some type of currency or cultural capital that they can use as leverage.

Q~ In your opinion, what are some of the financial challenges women have?
A~I think that the greatest challenge is faced during the years hat children are grade school age when a women has to choose between working full tine to provide substantial income and being home with her children in the afternoons when school is out. It's a miserable, unfair choice to have to make.

Q~Have you had any financial challenges specifically as a women?
A~As a young mother i choose to stay home with my children because, without an advanced college degree required to make enough money to afford preschool, the cost of missing my children's younger years would be much greater than the cast of childcare. As a young mother, I cleaned houses and cared for other people's children. Helped in the family business and tried to bring in some income without giving up being with many kids at home. Returning to school in my mid 30's to complete 2 college degrees as a single working mother was a tenuous balancing act. It was well worth it as now in my 40's i have a full time job with benefits and help can support my family better.

Q~Did family members or friends (other people-jobs) treat you differently because you were a women?
A~The most unusual comment i ever got was from the income tax preparer who told me i was foolish to be divorced and go back to school because i wasn't going to make any money.
I didn't use his services after that unsolicited, chauvinistic advise. I don't think that i have been unusually discriminated against on the job because i work in a profession that traditionally had been dominated by females. But times that I've worked in or along male dominated fields, like auto mechanics or engineering, I have been careful to make as few mistakes as possible because i felt like i had to prove myself and my ability even more than if i had been a man.

Q~What kind of sacrifices have you made as a woman?
A~ As a young wife, i thought I was supposed to give up my academic, professional and financial autonomy. At the time, in my early twenties, i felt tat it was more important for me to support my husband's goals and also took them on as my own. I also took on the primary role of running the household, keeping the books for our business, caring for the children, and balancing our budget. In many ways , i sacrificed my identity as an independent thinker and doer.

Q~How does your ethnic background influence your life as a woman and what is the attitude tword the women of your ethnic background?
A~As a Jew, mothers are traditionally responsible for arranging holiday observances and teaching their children to do so. I have found over the years that honoring certain Jewish traditions maintain a connection between my mother, my grandmothers and me. Every Friday night now i call my mother and we say the prayer over the Sabbath candles on the phone with each other. I feel connected to her, my grandmothers, and Jewish woman all over the world when we do this together, and it brings both of us joy to do it. Additionally, mothers are keepers of the home, the ones who makes sure everything is well cared for and happy; mothers come last on the list. This is a more unhealthy tradition that i am trying to break and teach my daughters how to avoid bring the martyr type my mother exemplified.
Some archetypes for Jewish women include the nag, the caretaker, and the cook, etc. These types aren't terribly flattering to the women. The characteristic that I try to identify most with the women is the woman with the backbone of the family providing emotional strength and wisdom whenever possible. There is a healthy independent stubbornness in that, I think.

Conclusion~
After the interview I learned that she went through a lot more then I thought with my sibling's and I. I feel bad because I was such a pain sometimes, even thought I knew what she was going to say for most of the questions, she surprised me. I still think she is a very smart, stubborn, wonderful women.


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