One of the saddest things in my life is that I lost both of my grandmothers within a few years of each other when I was very very young. Both of my grandmothers were taken by diseases that are now prime targets for fundraising and cures. My mother’s mother struggled badly with asthma and was taken by a sudden and severe asthma attack. My father’s mother struggled with MS for more than 40 years and passed shortly after a surgery that was supposed to help improve the quality of her life.
I think of my grandmothers a lot. I was only 6 when my first grandma died, about 10 when my second grandmother passed. You don’t really know enough at that age to ask important questions or to acknowledge the fact that you have these wonderful people around.
I’ve been thinking about my grandmothers, then my mom, then me as I watch Mad Men. My grandmothers were raising children in the 1960s. Both of my grandmothers were overall pretty traditional. My paternal grandmother, of course, was greatly inhibited by her disease, but still she believed strongly in family gatherings, in outings, in proper language, things like that. My mom’s mom was the type of person who could whip up a giant cake in five seconds flat. It is because of her that I taught myself how to crochet and how to knit.
My mom and her generation are caught between the conventions of their mothers and the great pull of everything the 60s and 70s meant for young people. My mom was compelled to try to be a full-time mom and a full-time professional, as were and are so many women.
Where are women in business today? Where are women today?
As I try to build my personal “brand,” as I try to represent everything that matters to our family’s advertising agency, I find that I feel a strange pull. Is this what I should be doing? Is this too feminine? Is this not feminine enough? Should I buy a pinstripe suit? Or should I be wearing flowy dresses and skirts?
When I was in high school and trying desperately to learn how to crochet, a lot of people made fun of me. When I got into college and knitted and crocheted a lot, at first people were a little perplexed, but slowly, both crafts became popular among my friends, and now the popularity of crafting in general has sky-rocketed. Why is Martha Stewart so popular? Why is there such a lust for nostalgic arts like folding dinner napkins into swans? Why is it mostly women who adore Martha and watch her show? Is something “homey” missing from our lives?
I watch shows like Mad Men or the reaction to women like Hillary Clinton (regardless of your political views) and I think, “When can I just be me?” When will the pressure of “defining woman’s role” or “breaking the glass ceiling” finally be in the rear view mirror? I’m me. I’m my own person. I do business-type stuff. I do traditional domestic type stuff. I love both equally. Why does it feel like there needs to be something more grandiose?
Do you feel it too?
Men, what is your perspective?