Your Dad Said

Summer-Fun-3My family is traditional Midwest/Southern patriarchal. They believe women grow up and walk down the aisle to marriage. If you couldn’t find a suitable marriage partner, you got a job. Simple. My mom worked in the family business and kept the checkbook, but dad made the decisions. Recently my mom needed a new car, but it never occurred to her to ask for one, pick out one or even test drive one. She has her money, but she’s never controlled it. She’s a woman of her times and has no desire to control it. So anytime she and I have a conversation, I know that if I say something that isn’t parent approved, I’ll get a call later. Mom will always start by saying, “Your dad said,” as in, “Your dad said he’d pick you up,” or “Your dad said we could loan you the money,” or “Your dad said that Kansas City is too far for you to drive alone.”

I’m a girl.

It’s usually because I’m doing something that belongs in the male category like financing a house, buying a car, or even driving a long distance by myself. Even though I’ve proven time after time that I can cope as well as anyone, it doesn’t matter. As a child, the boys went off and hunted, with guns. I didn’t care about hunting or fishing so much, but I liked exploring. Yes, I realize I was younger. Yes, I realize I was a girl. These are obvious and reasonable concerns, but I know it wasn’t only these reasons, even though those are the reasons that were stated. Girls weren’t capable, even if they were capable.

I can do it.

The fact that I can take apart a dryer or washing machine, replace my faucets, re-tile my floors, and negotiate a loan never makes it past the first facade, I’m a girl. And girls weren’t capable. I’ve spent a lot of effort trying to show my mother my independence and abilities and until recently I hadn’t realized why. I’m a girl, and I am capable. And I’d like her to stop second guessing my decisions all of the time. I want the respect that the boys have. I want her to see me, not just see a girl. I realize it won’t happen, though. My mom is a girl and has no desire to be otherwise. She sees me as she sees herself.

I’m tired of trying to prove myself because it’s not about me.

She’ll just have to stay in her patriarchal world where boys will be boys and girls aren’t capable. Me? I abhor the caste systems, and I hate being boxed in. I didn’t grow up in a time when women were limited. Today we have the freedom to make choices and live our lives. And I will just continue and do my thing.

 

Dad, The Faithful

My dad had a birthday last week which reminded me of this poem I had written for him years ago.

The race is not always won by the fastest,
the war not always won by the strong.
The faithful will be there when the war is over,
still standing, holding to the truth and waving its banner;
calling all to the challenge and helping others along.

We give gold statues to those
who flash and amaze us, or even just tickle our fancy.
But not many recognize the faithful.
It’s the faithful who inherit the kingdom.
It is the faithful to whom God will show himself strong

Because the race is not always won by the fastest.
The war not always won by the strong.
Sometimes, the faithful are the only ones standing
and have stood there all along.

My dad’s a steady person, the type that people rely on. I was over at my parent’s house and his phone rang. It was his pastor asking for advice. Then I remembered all the times as a child I’d learned how important it was to be faithful. Steady wins the race. Pastors frequented our house while I was growing up, asking for advice or just talking to blow off some steam. Dad always had the pastor’s ear, but not because Dad was charismatic. It was because they trusted his advice.

From The Power of Habit,

Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they learned.  – Tony Dungy

Thanks Dad for teaching me your habit of being steady!

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