Growing up I was taught early on that women were second to men. Wow, that was hard to put in writing. It’s one thing to know it, and another to face it and say it out loud.
I like to think of myself as progressive and a feminist, but old habits die hard. You don’t just unlearn a behavior pattern. My family was the perfect example of the notion that men come first, and it was taught to me daily.
From the mundane everyday thing, to the complete absurd, I heard it over and over. One time when we were in the orchards picking cherries, my parents were very upset over an accusation of abuse by one of my cousins to an uncle. The comment that stuck in my head forever was “How could she do that to him?”. My uncle’s reputation seemed much more important than my cousin’s well being.
Yeah, that was a crazy thing to hear as a young girl, but there were so many other subtle day-to-day things that had just as a profound affect on how I saw (see?) myself as a female. My parents worked side by side to earn our family money, but when it was time to go home, my mom did all the work.
After working hard all day in the sun, she would fix dinner for all of us, and then do some canning, the laundry and get lunch packed and ready for the next day. Dinner alone was a monumental task with eight of us to feed.
We all sat at the table, and dinner was served family style. But my mom would dish our plates up for us, and she would always serve Dad first. Not only did he get his dinner first, but also got the nicest piece of meat served on his plate. The boys were served next, then my sister and I. My mom was the last to sit down to her dinner. She didn’t put her needs first, and that was to be admired.
Learning to put my needs first is still a struggle. I feel guilty if I spend too much time on my own things. Writing this blog has been a challenge, in that I feel like I’m supposed to jump up if anyone needs me, or maybe I should be doing something more productive, like cooking, or canning or laundry.
Here I am 58 years old, and every time I serve dinner, my mother’s actions dictate what I do. Breaking that behavior of putting myself second is easier said than done.
So who get’s the best piece of chicken in your house?