My father, my half-brother and my half-sister flew in from the the East Coast for a visit last week. My half-brother is 14 and my half-sister is 10.
I was 20 years old and away at college when my brother was born. I was in graduate school when my sister was born. Since we’re decades of age apart, didn’t grow up together, and live across the country from each other, I obviously don’t have a normal sisterly relationship with them. I love them as I do the sister and brother I grew up with, but it’s a very different relationship. Over time, I have developed a dynamic with them that seems half-mother/half-sister. When you’re old enough to be the mother of your siblings (and often get mistaken for the mom…ugh), it’s easy to find yourself playing the mom role just as easily as it is to be the sister.
During our visits, I find myself shifting between this mother role and the sister role. I can ask my brother and sister to help with dinner, stop running down the hardwood stairs in slippery socks, or clean up after themselves just as easily as I can find myself on the couch with them playing DJ Hero, teasing and giggling with them as if I were their age. At the same time, I need to monitor myself like I would with any other kids around, like watch my language and avoid inappropriate topics. And when topics come up that aren’t necessarily inappropriate, but definitely on the serious side, it can be confusing as to how to handle it. For one thing, my sister and brother aren’t even half as sheltered as I was growing up. It’s not because of how they are parented but rather it’s due to the world they and their friends live in. Their access to the world is staggering and their precociousness is reminiscent of my young adult self and certainly not my tween and teen self. (continues…)
As a woman, I often think about the time before my birth and what my female ancestors had to endure.
For centuries, women have had to fight to establish equality in a very paternalistic society. Women had to band together to form the Suffrage Movement. Women fought for equality during the Civil Rights Movement and created the Feminist Movement when society still treated them like second-class citizens. In the last 100 years, women have been incredibly successful in overturning anti-discriminatory laws and creating new laws to protect our rights. There is no doubt that the time we live in now is markedly different than the era of our mothers and grandmothers.
- We lived without voting rights until 1920.
- We lived without FDA-approved birth-control until 1960.
- We lived without discrimination laws and equal opportunity in the workplace until 1964.
- We lived with sex-segregated employment ads until 1968.
- We lived without the Equal Pay Act until 1970.
- We lived without Title IX until 1972.
- We lived without reproductive rights until 1973.
- We lived without the Pregnancy Discrimination Ban until 1978.
- We lived without the Lily Ledbetter Act until 2009.
From our mothers to our great-great-great grandmothers, women have worked hard to ensure a better future for their daughters, and the women of today continue to take a stand against injustice and inequality. As women, we have lived with discrimination and intolerance. We have lived as second-class citizens. We have lived without laws to protect ourselves and our rights. So, I ask my mama-sisters, why aren’t we working harder to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren? Why aren’t we doing more to stand up to injustice and inequality? (continues…)