Current Vibe: Devastated by the loss of RBG, this amazing woman who impacted our lives so much. Listening to this wonderful podcast about her life from NYT’s _The Daily_.
RBG’s life was a slow and steady path towards progress and institutional change, especially with regard to gender equality. She paved the way for a more just world, where my mom’s career in science and engineering could exist and for my own as a financially able, working mom of two. When RBG was a young woman, teachers were fired if they were just beginning to show they were pregnant. If someone tried to do that ridiculousness now, they would be sued.
I played that NYT’s podcast in the car when picking up my daughter and her BFF from their first day of blended pandemic back to school. When I explained that fact about teachers, they couldn’t believe their ears, literally their mouths were hung open in shock. I was like, yes girls, can you imagine if your teacher was fired because she was pregnant? It’s insane! And…it’s not that far away from us.
I’m grieving for the loss of such a light in the world. I’m raging at the white men in power who are doing everything they can to scrap and scrabble for their rights over other human beings, throwing their hypocritical remarks into the wind for millions of campaign dollars. I’m so freaking depressed about minority rule in this country. How dare they attempt to walk back decades of progress.
I’ll admit it—I’m scared, terrified, that now I have to be the one to stand up. Or maybe I’m tired. But I don’t get to be tired, I have to be strong. I better stand up, because without Ruth on the highest court of the land writing for today and tomorrow, then we have to do the writing and the standing.
This is going to sound really strange and weird, but I feel like I’m grieving my own mom all over again. Maybe because I saw her as a beacon of strength, no matter how hurt I was as a young girl (I have a high E.Q., my mom has a high science I.Q., and maybe they just don’t match so well…), I knew she always did what she could, her very best, to provide for her family. She was a single working mom, married to not the best of men until her third marriage.
When a teacher yelled at me as a second grader, I can’t even remember for what—maybe something about dropping an eraser at the chalkboard? My mom marched in and called her out on it. I didn’t witness that, but one of the things my mom shared with me was this: my mom never stood up for me if any teacher treated me unfairly, saying that’s just how it was. So I vowed that when I grew up, I would always go in and do something if that happened to one of MY kids…
My mom’s sense of fairness—was pretty black and white in her thinking, not many shades of gray for her, which with my fragile and passionate heart, had trouble navigating until I was an adult. Mom broke her own barriers in education and workplace, an undergraduate biology major, then as a single mom of two, earning her master’s degree in industrial hygiene, and then embarking on a career in employee safety and later migrating to engineering—all male dominated fields, but she carved a successful career, traveling the country and sometimes bringing us with her when we were young, otherwise always home with dinner on the table by 6pm, and then later traveling the world for her job. At the same time, I’m pretty sure she voted republican and deferred in her later life to my brother about legal decisions (glossing over any opinions I may have shared). I was her emotional comfort, I guess, and my brother, being “the man” while at the same time emotionally distant with her, simply was more respected for all things real world. Perhaps internalized patriarchy, but all the same, Mom broke barriers just by breathing and living.
When she passed, I was broken for a month, and then I picked myself up and started running, out of the blue. (I’ve now completed two half marathons, and would have done a third if not for the pandemic.) Because somewhere in the back of my foggy drink-addled head after her passing, I could almost hear her pragmatic voice: well, get on with it already. You’ve got two kids to take care of and a job to do.
So I guess I kept on keeping on. Somehow RBG’s spirit and my mom’s spirit resonate similarly with me—the former bucking tradition and taking mini steps to change the world at large, the latter bucking tradition and taking mini steps that changed my very personal world. And now they’re both gone, and it’s left my heart breaking at the edges, the middle, and inside.
I vacillate between overwhelmed with depression and at the same time, rage against the world that would leave me (and women) behind and out of the rooms where decisions are being made. I can’t stand the unfairness—something my mom instilled in me and one that RBG challenged and defeated time and again—unfairness on the basis of sex, gender, race.
And I remember that we are not alone, even if we feel like it. My daughters can’t imagine a world where a teacher would be fired for being pregnant. Yet that was “the norm” when RBG was a young lady, and would also have been just passing by when my mom embarked on her college career. I will not forget and I will keep fighting as long as there is air in my lungs to breathe. Even when I feel beyond tired and want to cry. We can do this, if only in our hearts, then our minds, then our words, then our actions:
p.s. Rage donating to campaigns to support flipping seats Blue via Actblue. Specifically donating to:
Amy McGrath, KY (polls are all over the place, but would dream a dream if she could win)
Mark Kelly, AZ (he can sit right away if he’s elected, because it’s a special election)
Sara Gideon, ME
Jaime Harrison, SC
Pat Timmons-Goodson, NC (Obama judge appointee that the Senate blocked, now carries a lead for US Congressional Rep)
Apparently, I’m not alone in doing this—record breaking donations poured in last Friday night. Thank goodness.
p.p.s. women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights