“I so wish I could give my girls a more just world, but I know you’ll make it a better place.”
Marmee to Meg and Jo in Little Women
At more than one women’s gathering lately, I have heard Baby Boomer women lament that Millennial women don’t seem to appreciate the struggles that we went through in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s to get to where we are in education, government, the workplace and how easy this progress could slip away. I know many Millennial women though who resent being told they need to vote for Hilary as though they owe her and her generation a debt of gratitude.
I remember something my mother told me a long time ago. I led a pretty sheltered childhood. My friends’ families were a lot like mine and it wasn’t till I went to college that I realized not everyone had two parents married to each other who cherished their children while at the same time expecting them to grow into responsible adults. I began to realize how lucky I was.
On my 20th birthday, I gave my mother a dozen yellow roses (her favorite) and said, “How can I ever thank you for all that you’ve done for me.” In her usual direct manner, she replied, “You can’t, and I don’t expect you to. But one day, you’ll have a daughter of your own and you’ll do all the things for her that I’ve done for you – and that’s how you’ll thank me.” She died a year later from colon cancer.
I didn’t have one daughter – I had two. And many a night when I was up with a sick or fussy baby, I would soothe them, look up and whisper, “This one’s for you, Mom.” Like Marmee in Little Women, I too wish I could give my girls a more just world. When my older daughter was in middle school, she said to me, “I’ll never do what you do (referring to my job).” I was hurt because I thought I was being a good role model as a working mom and I asked her why. Her answer: “I’m not willing to make the sacrifices you make.” My answer: “My hope is that you won’t have to.”
And the workplace in many ways has improved. We have a long way to go, but I have all the confidence in the world that millennial women will make it a better place for their daughters and that’s how they’ll thank us.