Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Learned a Few Things from Those Baptist Ladies!

Grams was born in 1954. That makes me a baby boomer. I grew up in the sixties and came of age in the seventies. Mine was pretty much the last generation of women who didn't really expect to work. While many of us went to college, we thought we would marry, have babies and be stay-at-home moms. That didn't work out for most of us. We ended up juggling full-time jobs along with our traditional roles as wives and mothers.

As a baby boomer, I had a front row seat to the events of the last half of the 20th Century. I was in first grade when John Kennedy was elected president. I was 9 years old when he was assassinated. I learned to take cover under my desk during the Cuban Missile Crisis and I was only 8 years old when Marilyn Munroe died. I attended segregated schools until I was 10. I was 13 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I was 15 when Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the moon in the same year that all those "hippies" gathered at Woodstock. I was a senior in high school when the Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics. I watched as Watergate brought Richard Nixon's presidency to an early end. I remember when Saigon fell and the last marines left Vietnam. Burning bras and burning draft cards were beamed into my living room along with the race riots and anti-war protests of the sixties and my television set gave me a front row view.

Of all the changes that have taken place in my lifetime, in my humble opinion, the most important has been the changing role of women. The women of my mother's generation were the last of the old-fashioned "Mrs. Cleaver" type women who stayed home, made dinner and raised children. Today's young women don't realize that the opportunities they have were not available just a generation ago. They don't even have to think about it.

I'm definitely glad to have seen the liberation of women. Most women of my generation thought that if they did work for a few years it would be as a secretary, a nurse or a teacher. There were not a lot of other choices. Today's women can dream of being anything and can actually achieve those dreams. My daughter-in-law is a rig supervisor for a major oil company. She works on an oil rig in Canada where she supervises a crew of men. And if her pay and advancement in the company are any indication, she's damn good at it. Just a few years ago it would have been unheard of for any female to hold such a position. Yet she didn't even hesitate to go for the job she wanted.

I love to tell people that I was raised Southern Baptist, but I overcame it. Truth be told, I mostly say that to aggravate my mother, but religion is a topic for another day. What I want to say is that I learned some important things about how to be a woman from the ladies of the Baptist Church. And I worry that many of those traditional things are in danger of disappearing.

The ladies of the Baptist Church always took food to the house when someone died. They gave bridal and baby showers. They brought casseroles when someone was sick. They cleaned each others houses when one of them had a long-term illness. They hosted graduation teas. They babysat for each other and sat with sick parents. In short, they supported each other as only women can. I am afraid that these things are being lost in the brave new world of today's women. I'm even more concerned that these traditions are not being passed on to our daughters.

So next time you're invited to a bridal shower or baby shower, put on your Sunday best and take your daughter with you. When your neighbor has a new baby, take a casserole. When there's a death in the neighborhood, organize the neighbors to provide a meal. Host a tea for a girl you know who's graduating. Offer to babysit for a friend who needs a night out. Be there for other women and teach your daughters by your example.

With a lot of support from other women ... Grams made it. Let's make sure the next generation of women makes it too!

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social blogging event.


  1. Amen. I'm so grateful that you instilled those principles in me. So many friends and family members brought us dinner after we had the baby, I was floored! It was such a huge help, we didn't have to cook for weeks.

    I certainly intend to carry on such traditions as long as I can and to teach my daughter and step-daughter to do the same.

  2. I like this post... I love that I was raised without any sort of barrier to success in the workplace and that my daughter will be raised that way as well.

    But the thing is, I don't have time to cook cassaroles and help clean houses and throw bridal or baby showers because I'm working! I love the older traditions and think that they are wonderful, I don't want to see them go... but as a woman I have to let go of something so that I can reach for something else.

    There are many days I'd be happy to be June Cleaver, the difference between her and I is that I would be able to choose to stay home and willingly let go of the career path...

  3. Sorry to be so late to the party, but I am a new reader. I was born 10 years after you and my experience could not have been more different. I never had the barriers you faced. I am grateful for what your generation gave mine.

    I did grow up with lovely, sweet smelling ladies, however. And I agree wholeheartedly that being a lady is never inappropriate.

  4. This is such a wonderful post for so many reasons. I'm a wee bit younger so I missed many of those things you mention, but just barely. Like Mary A above, I never really faced the barriers you did, but that also meant I never had the privilege of knowing the grand graces and niceties of the stay-at-home mothers with traditional roles.

    I do agree with you that the role of women and how it's changed is one of the most important shifts from generation to generation. Kudos to your daughter in law for her demanding job. I'm thrilled our daughters don't know what it was like to not have options, though it is unfortunate that many of the traditions, support, niceties of a caring community have fallen by the wayside in exchange for their ability to do anything they choose.

    Thank you so much for linking up this thoughtful post to GRAND Social. ♥

  5. What a wonderful and thought provoking post!

    I was in the third grade when JFK was assasinated so I am only a few years behind you.

    My middle son's friends are in their mid-twenties. I see them starting to have children, both parents still working etc. The young women seem to be holding up! Still have showers, themed birthday parties, support each other in tragedies or deaths, post on FB about trips on the weekend or vacations with their children and so on.

    HOW they manage it: not sure. I think that some of it is because the young women of today expect the men to help and pitch in, and most do, and the support system behind these young women ( that I am thinking of ) is very good, and comprised of the grandparents and extended family.

  6. Wonderful post! "We've come a long way baby!" Anyone remember that commercial? Anyway, I do hope the coming generations will pass on the good things women have always been. I agree (with Debra above)that this generation seems to be handling it all ok but I have to add, since I have 5 married kids in this category, that they handle it differently than we did. They are not as into keeping a clean house or any of the home making skill most of us learned from our moms. And they don't seem to mind. And yes, the men are pretty much taking equal responsibility for home and kids, at least in my family. That helps a LOT.