I grew up in an apartment over my father’s grocery store in a small Italian immigrant community in the 1950s. The concept of women having it all had not yet reached the common consciousness. But most of the women in my life – mom, aunts, neighbors – already had it all so that idea of having it all never really crossed their minds. Or, if it did, they probably would have been willing to trade it all in for a little less.
I watched my mother get up every day and take care of us kids, clean her apartment, get us off to school and then head downstairs to work in the store with dad. At the end of the day, it was reversed. She’d finish up in the store and go upstairs to make dinner and get the kids settled before I Love Lucy came on. During the day, if we wanted or needed something or simply wanted to snitch on our sibling, we went to mom, not dad. Dad was not to be disturbed because he was working so hard. So we bothered mom. All day. In and out of the store. How she didn’t take us out with a provolone ball I’ll never understand.
Most of my aunts and many neighborhood moms were doing the same thing. Working full time and creating a home for their families after hours. The idea of the husband being an equal partner in all this was not yet born. The husband worked all day and came home to be cared for by his wife and adoring children. The wife got to work all day and then go home, make dinner, get the kids washed and in bed and make sure her husband had all he wanted or needed and the kids didn’t bother him.
Yep, I grew up watching so many women I knew having it all and, in the end, my only thought was why in the hell would you want it.
Happy Women’s History Month.