Saturday, May 9, 2009
My Grandmother & Mother's Day
My Grandma Dotter died about three and a half years ago and it is still hard to fathom. Saturday morning, I woke up in tears missing her. (Being pregnant this was somehow not surprising to Brent). However, as I was waking thinking of her, it occurred to me for the first time that maybe this wacky career path of mine isn't so novel after all as it seems I'm sort of following her lead, albeit somewhat unconsciously.
First, I should explain my grandparents a bit. Growing up their expectations of all 14 grandchildren and well as of their five children were very high. My grandmother had a list of about three acceptable professions - Doctor, Engineer, Dentist, I think. She treated boys and girls differently with boys always ranking with her. Consequently, for me the instruction was to find one of these to marry. At the same time, she seemed quite convinced that being on the Supreme Court one day was a realistic goal for me. You see my grandmother, while not a lawyer by training, had mastered the skill of arguing both sides of any issues and apparently forcefully believing each even when they were in direct contradiction. She was also one of the first to see a lawyers path for me even when I continued to protest.
In addition to being a busy wife, mother and grandmother my Grandma had many other careers. She was a teacher, librarian, literacy tutor and realtor sometimes in turn sometimes in combination. She was also at times the Okeene judge presiding over minor offenses. I know she was the first to take me into a "court room" with my cousin Katherine while she presided over things like traffic tickets. I don't know my age, but the memory is, for some reason, firmly burned in my mind as is a page from the book we were reading. Perhaps, an important introduction to one of my future paths.
She juggled many careers and paths that gave her the flexibility to be there for her family, raise her children and yet still have the personal, professional, physical and intellectual challenges she enjoyed. By the time I knew her, she definitely didn't "have" to work as my grandfather was a very successful physician. However, I think both her personality and the great depression experience made work of some kind whether paid or volunteer an imperative for her personally. She was always going a million miles an hour, always working, laughing, criticizing, talking, loving, cajoling, patting, challenging.
As I said, my grandparents set incredibly standards that it was often quite difficult to meet. Today though, I realized that while I didn't marry a man with one of her listed professions (Ok, he's a Dr, but not the kind she meant) and there is no chance I'll be on the Supreme Court (although I know she would still believe it possible) I think maybe I am living another path that she would understand and approve of nonetheless as it so closely mirrors her own.
I am a lawyer, teacher, mother, friend, wife, sister, counselor. I have chosen challenging work that is financially and personally rewarding while still giving me the flexibility I want. I use this flexibility to have hobbies I enjoy, a husband, friends and family that surround me with love, a child (soon to be children) that I cherish and am learning to be a mother to. I am forever sad that she won't get to meet them on this earth, but know she is watching over us. Nonetheless, it was a fitting mother's day tribute to find some peace in knowing she has tread this very path before me and that she would be proud of me even as she would continue to challenge me if she were with me today.
In tribute to her and all she has been for our family our daughter will bear, most likely as her middle name, my Grandma Dotter's middle name: Jewel. That is my gift to both my grandmother and my future daughter this mother's day. I am very lucky daughter to be blessed with such an amazing Mother, Grandmothers, Sister and an entire amazing circle of women in my life both family and not. Thanks to all of you (ladies and gents) for sharing in the joys, sorrows and challenges with me. Your love and support is an amazing gift to me.
Happy Mother's Day!