I’ve been wanting to write this post for a little while now, but it seems every time I sat down to write it I just couldn’t give it my full attention. Today, though, I’ve decided to buckle down and go ahead and get started. I’m always interested to know about someone’s background when I read their blog, but I’m especially interested to learn more about their background and their history when it’s a relationship blog. Particularly so when their relationship involves traditional gender roles, because that isn’t something the general public seems to want right now. Although, I think there are more of us than it seems.
Many people have one of two different general impressions of the sort of woman who would embrace traditional gender roles. One is that she was raised in a household just like that. The other is that she was raised in a household completely the opposite and for whatever reason longs for something different. In my case, neither of these is accurate.
First, I’ll give you a just-the-facts rundown of the home I was raised in. I grew up in a small mountain town. My father has a job that you might characterize as an office job or a sales job. It’s a little of a lot of things I suppose. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and is a housewife. I suppose you could say that my father was the head of our household, he is the sole income, but he also goes to work early in the morning and sometimes, unpredictably, works long hours. My mother always managed the workings of our home, if for no other reason than because she is the one who is there. That’s not uncommon where I was raised.
Have you ever watched My Big Fat Greek Wedding? In that movie, the bride’s mother tells her, “The man is the head, but the woman is the neck. And she can turn the head any way she wants.” This is similar to the way things seemed to work growing up. I often heard the words, “Ask your mother.” Sure, my father had his say, but ultimately, the everyday workings of our family were a bit matriarchal, whether it was obvious on the surface or not. My mother didn’t want my father to feel emasculated, she didn’t rule our household. But, she ran it.
My mother is a good Christian woman and a lady. But, she is also a little bit country. She cooks and cleans and makes her house a home with an extra dose of southern hospitality. She’s sweeter than sun brewed tea, but if you give her cause she’s got a fiery temper. My mother is very strong and independent. Her parents lived through the depression and they taught her to stand on her own two feet. My mother can bake cakes and even can produce, but she can also shoot straight. She can do anything the men in her family can do. I come from a long line of women like that.
My grandmother taught me to walk, talk, and sit like a lady. My grandfather was a law enforcement officer and a manly man if ever there was one, but that little demure lady who taught me to be a lady from a very young age had a presence big enough to stand up to the tower that was my grandfather. She could go toe to toe with him when she felt strongly, and she did a few times. She raised two boys to show her that same respect. I come from a long line of women like my mother and my grandmother. Strong women, ladies, but women with fierce tempers, quick wits, and a fighting spirit. Survivors, good women, ladies, good wives, good mothers, good homemakers, but spirited women, women with real fire. That’s what I come from.
Much like the women who came before me, I am in my element in the domestic side of things. Cooking, baking, cleaning, laundry, mending things, caring for people who are sick or upset, that kind of thing. But, please, please, PLEASE don’t ask me to pass you some special kind of wrench or clean a fish. I’ve never been hunting or fishing. You’ll never see me skin anything if I’m not starving. Those genes passed me up entirely. I am one of those girls who really was meant for woman’s work. I’d much rather be barefoot in the kitchen or “slaving” over a stove than doing anything David does. I don’t think I have the upper body strength for most of that anyway.
The women in my family were fierce protectors, and they fought fiercely for themselves, their home, or their family if they had to. I shy away from violence at all costs. I don’t even like to think about it, even if it is in self defense. That’s not to say that I have never fought to protect myself. I have, but it sickens to me to do so, to think about it, to see it on television. I don’t like to hold guns. I don’t really want anything to do with them. I admire anyone who is willing to protect themselves or their family. I am glad that David is willing to fill the role of protector. If I need to, I’ll find a way, but it pains me to think about. Much like Scarlet O’Hara, but more like Melanie Wilkes, I won’t think about that now.
There are all kinds of jokes in my family about rolling pins, iron skillets, and flying dishes! Some of them are just jokes, and some of them are real. The women who came before me did a little bit of yelling and throwing things, and a lot of making up that must have made it worth it, because they had quite a few children. I plan to skip all that fighting stuff. I’m a VERY passionate woman, but in love I am slow to anger and quick to forgive. I absolutely feel in my heart that I am meant to keep my disagreements with him humble and respectful. To honor him and show him my respect even when I’m not happy about the circumstances. I think I’ll just skip ahead to the making up, but maybe not the baby making just now.
The women in my family have always been very strong willed. They have their own way of doing things, their own ideas, and they’ve never really needed anyone’s approval. I really admire that, and it means a lot to me to have grown up around women who don’t need someone else to complete them. However, that’s not exactly who I am. As I’ve said before, David and I have plenty of differences. I should think that would be obvious from our age difference alone. But, all in all, I just don’t feel the need to have things my way at all for the most part. He has a lot of ideas of his own, a lot more life experience than me, and just a different point of view. Honestly, he has an amazing sense of right and wrong and just so much inner strength and character. I really genuinely look up to him. I have good reason to. So, why shouldn’t I learn what I can from him? Why not embrace the benefit of everything that is so wonderful about him? I have made him a big part of my life, a very important part of my life. He is the leader. He makes decisions about things, I look to him for guidance and the weight his words carry in our relationship inspires us both to be better people and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
I grew up with women who gave me the benefit of their wisdom. Every woman in my family was an amazing woman in her own right. All the women I grew up being closest to were faithful, devoted wives with so much love to give. But they weren’t really like me, though they helped make me who I am. They had a little more spice, where I have a little more sugar. They always encouraged that side of me, especially my grandmother. They never made me feel as though I should be more like them in that way. I was going to be a little lady, and I think they knew before I did that someday this would be what I would want for my life.
It had nothing to do with the way I was raised, but in my teenage years, as I tried to find my way to womanhood, I lost my way a bit. Okay, maybe a lot. A lot of us do.
My first couple of years being a woman, in 2008 and 2009, life dealt me a rough hand. As my way of coping, I did my level best and then some to become a tough cookie. I just knew that was what a woman should be. Everything around me seemed to be telling me so. I felt my life was difficult because I had failed in that respect. So I made myself into that woman and guarded my heart.
I stumbled through life trying not to let anything touch me, and doing a good job of it until July 2009. That hardness I’d created within myself broke down little by little as I fell in love with a man I never meant to fall for. I let him in so quickly, and he tumbled my walls from the first time he held me in his arms. He found that softness in me, and I saw reflected in his eyes the truth of the woman I am. The woman I am meant to be who was always there inside me.
Sometimes I am afraid that he wants me to be tougher, but then I remember that he fell in love with that softness he saw before I could embrace it fully. Sometimes I am ashamed of who I was, but then he reminds me that I was only trying to find strength to make it through, which allowed me to find my way to him. Sometimes, it’s hard, but today and from now on I want to be who in my heart I know I always truly was. Each day I will do my best to embrace that soft, sweet, tender woman who loves a man who is strong enough to be her other half.