Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thank You For My Independence

What did you do for the Independence Day holiday?

I hope you took a moment to say a silent "Thanks" to the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who perished over the last 250+ years fighting to earn our country this holiday. Maybe you were lucky enough to actually know or encounter someone in the military and get to express your gratitude in person? I hope so. From George Washington's Crossing of the Delaware to today's troops in the Middle East, many people have died so that we can enjoy today's freedoms.

But, let's take this concept of "Independence" a step further and break it down to a narcissistic level. Outside of the freedoms we share as Americans, what personal freedoms am I grateful for?

Well, sister, let me tell you:

I'm grateful that I don't have to live like my Great-Grandmother, Mrs. Cox.  For the better part of her adult life, she had to wear a long skirt, long sleeves and corset in the blazing Central Texas heat.

She had to wring a chicken's neck in the backyard and pluck it for that night's dinner.  She had to wash clothes over a boiling pot of water.

There were no tampons!   There were no hair-driers!  There was no air-conditioning!  There was no television!

Kill. Me. Now.

I'm also grateful that my life is better than that of my Grandmother, Mrs. Jane Cox Kooken.

My Grandmother led a life of leisure as the wife of a small town Doctor. She had a full-time housekeeper/cook named Melinda so pretty much all she did was play cards, attend Church and other social functions and do charitable work.

Actually, now that I think about it... her life was pretty darn sweet. So, I'm going to say, that I'm glad my life was not like Melinda's, who was her live-in housekeeper/cook/nanny.

Central heat and air was not standard in most American homes.  There were no dry-cleaners, you had to iron EVERYTHING! Still no tampons!  There were no canned vegetables. You had to can them yourself.  In fact, you had to cook everything from scratch, three times a day, every day. People didn't eat out. Can you imagine!?

Things get a a lot better for my Mom, Mrs. Jane Kooken Green.

By the 1970's, we had refrigerators, air-conditioning, television, cars, planes, washing machines and supermarkets.  They were in cruder forms than they are today - but they had them.

My Mom still had to iron my Dad's dress-shirts. She sprinkled the wrinkled clothes from the clothes line, rolled them in a towel and put them in the refrig.  Then, took them out and ironed them the next day. GADS!

She worked full-time as a teacher while my Father was in law school, but was still expected to cook all his meals and keep the house. Men didn't clean.

By the 1970's it was the nuances of a wife's life that were changing.  It was okay to work, maybe even assumed you would, but the man still ruled the roost.  Now, you were expected to do everything you did before and work outside the home.

Remember the jingle, "I can bring home the bacon.... fry it up in a pan... and never let you forget your a man, 'cuz I'm a woman!"  In other words. Now, you had to do it ALL.

What crazy person thought this was progress? IJS.

Women were changing. They wanted to work and earn their own money. Money gives you power and once women got a taste of that power, there was no going back.

Most men had not changed. And they were being drug into this new era of household accountability kicking and screaming.  Actually, they are still being drug.

So, here we are in 2010. The personal freedoms I am grateful for are this:
  • The freedom to choose whether I work outside the home ~ or not
  • The freedom to work but do it from home (as  Mother, this is HUGE)
  • The right to earn the same wage for my work as a man
  • The Hair-drier (See photo above. That says it all)
  • Tampons! 
  • The Microwave
  • The computer and wi-fi, which allows me to work anywhere at anytime and gives me the kind of flexibility our mothers could never have even dreamed of or imagined
  • The right to vote and to have my own political opinion, even if it differs from my husband's (and it frequently does)
  • Restaurants. Some days I like to cook. Most days, I do not. 
  • A husband who contributes to the rearing of our child by changing diapers, helping with homework, coaching sports, and participating in the day to day minutia of parenting

These are just a few things I am celebrating.  These are the things that give me the freedom to be who I am and to live my life the way I want to live it. And that, my friends, is the biggest freedom of all.  This is why America is the greatest country on Earth. Because today, we women have choices.  God Bless America!