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.
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.