“I’m a boy and I use to play a lot in the street. But if I were a girl, I would spend more time washing the dishes, sweeping the floors, helping mother to cook, putting away the things in my room… “
It is a passage from a poem, that my daughter, a seventh form student had to learn by heart recently for her Russian lesson. I helped her with the right pronunciation, but then, I had to talk to her about so-called “male” and “female” duties. And I also, had to explain to her, why her brother, 10 years older than her uses to cook, and wash the dishes, and iron, and sweep the floor, even if he is a boy, not a girl.
From the very first day of school the books represent the following picture the students have to speak about: mother is busy in the kitchen, grandmother is knitting, while the males of the family, father, grandfather and the boys are either playing chess, or reading the newspapers, or watching TV. It is a picture the little children see at home, too. There is no wonder that most of grown ups have a stereotyped mentality about the family, responsibilities, duties, places of the members within the family.
I have been lucky to be raised in a family, where the seven siblings: four girls and three boys worked together and supported each other. Although my mother was illiterate, while my father attended just the first four classes of school, they still had the innate wisdom to bring us up as independent people, able to follow our own path throughout the life regardless the difficulties we may encounter.
But, those days I didn’t realize that. The atmosphere in my family seemed to me being a natural one. Later, getting married I was shocked for the first time, when my husband treated me as the woman whose responsibilities were to take care of him, without being helped even if I had a full time job, like him. Of course, his mother accused me when I divorced from him. As a result I had to take care and bring up our 5 years old son alone. That was the turning point in my life when I began interacting with and supporting women who were having difficulties in life, suffering much of being spoken rudely or even beaten by their husbands, but keeping on staying with them because of the children.
Later I met a nice, amiable, respectful young man I married to and a year later, we were very happy when our daughter was born. It was like a fairy tale in real life until…. unfortunately, my husband and the father of our daughter passed away in a car crash. It was unfair, unbelievable, and impossible to think that I had no longer my lover next to me; that our two months old daughter wouldn’t be hugged, kissed, patted by her father, that he will not enjoy her first words, steps, school results…. It was the month of November; people were planning their winter vacation, speaking about Christmas parties and New Year….
They say we must be grateful to everything given to us. All the hardships are given to make us wiser, more powerful, understanding, supportive, helpful…. Today, I am able to understand and accept this idea and I agree with it, because if at that time, my parents-in –law hadn’t refused me any help, I wouldn’t be here, writing to you, I wouldn’t have two nice and helpful, supportive, friendly, loving children. It doesn’t matter today the efforts I have made to raise them up. What matters is listening to my daughter playing the piano, having my son calling me weekly from another country where he went to study and meeting his love, is living there.
So, if I were…? I am. I am the woman, the mother, the fighter who is still a human being, regardless the hardships of the life, or, maybe, due to them?
Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.