Mother’s Day… by Nancy Brophy
This mother’s day weekend I’ve been missing my mother who died two years ago. I could use her use her wisdom and advice.
My mother was an early feminist. That designation was thrust upon her because she refused to follow the rules. When she graduated from college during WWII her career options were limited. Teachers, nurses or office help were available and very little else. Her father and grandfather were small town lawyers who had never told her that her gender would hold her back until she wanted to go to law school.
Her father believed she was bored because all the men were at war. But the war would eventually end and my mother would get married, so any money he spent on law school for a daughter would be wasted. He was wrong.
My mother did become a lawyer and practiced law for over fifty years. When the woman’s movement reached the forefront of American awareness in the late sixties, a lot of women were overjoyed to have thrown off the oppressive yolk of male domination. I, however, had not been raised with limited options. My mother raised me with these words. “You need to have a career, because while you might marry a man who can support you, he could die and you will have to go to work.”
We laugh at that advice now, because everyone works, but in the fifties and early sixties that was not true. The woman’s movement changed the relationship of men/women. As women became empowered, men struggled to figure out their role in a changing society.
Statements like, “a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle” told women it was okay if they weren’t marching in step with a man, but it didn’t tell men what their options were. The seventies were a decade where men did not fare well.
Fast forward to present day. The pendulum has definitely swung in the other direction. It appears easier to be male than female.
Why? Well, one reason I believe is because we are living our lives on social media so every decision is dramatic for high impact. The drama exhausts me, but there are no longer any easy decisions. Everything has consequences and maybe always has, but it seems more so now.
Thirty years ago there was a time when I sat in my mother’s office and believed God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. My mother emitted that kind of confidence, but also crazy people didn’t dominate the landscape. I clung to the illusion that America was the most powerful nation on earth. The world wasn’t at peace, but we, as Americans, felt safe on our soil.
My mother couldn’t have solved today’s problems. I know that. And in fact as she aged she worried more and more. In reality it would probably be me saying “there, there, now, now” to her rather than the other way around.
But she was my first anchor. And when the world appears to be staring into the abyss, I find the need to ground myself in sanity more and more. Today I wish I was scrambling to send her flowers or Harry and David’s because this weekend has crept up on me rather than remembering how much I miss her.
I am also thinking about my heroine and her relationship with her mother. Incorporating these feelings into a story is what we do because the first rule of being a writer is to bring universal truths to the reader even if they are only from your own perspective.