Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Motherscribe Interview Series: the 22nd interview...

My 22nd interview is with Kate from Washington State. She is 54 years old, married with two children. She works outside the home. She has a blog called Ahead of the Wave.

What does the word feminist mean to you? Has the meaning changed over time? Feminism to me means equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities for men and women, and freedom from domination by men in any aspect of life.

Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes

Would others consider you a feminist? Likely

If you are a feminist, do you feel comfortable owning that title in your everyday life? Yes, I do.

What was the greatest gift of the women’s movement? Equal pay for equal work although this is still not universal.

Did your mother work outside the home? Yes.

How did that affect you growing up? Mom was a teacher and well respected by students and families. I felt proud of her accomplishments.

What impression did that leave with you about women working outside the home? I felt that women could follow their passions.

Was your mother a homemaker? No.

Did your father respect your mother? Yes.

Did your mother respect your father? Yes.

Who were your earliest female role models other than your mother? Teachers, especially when I left home at age 15 to attend a boarding school in Texas.

What did you dream of being when you were a child? Someone glamorous and rich….(sorry, but it’s true)

Was getting married/partnered a conscious goal or focus early on in your adulthood? No.

Is there an event(s) that affected you in childhood/adolescence that impacted your identity in a positive or negative way? Absolutely. I was a victim of sexual molestation as a teenager and that experience left an indelible mark on my person; a real “before” and “after” event. Keeping this a “secret” for over 30 years and blaming myself is finally coming to an end. A negative can turn into a positive with time and a commitment to truth telling.

Have you ever dieted? Not seriously.

Are you happy and/or comfortable with your weight? Actually, yes.

Would you describe yourself as someone with “body issues?” If so, when do you remember this starting? What do you attribute it to? Very few body issues; some as a teen but less important as I’ve added years to my life.

What do you wish your mother had told you about marriage, life, anything…that you didn’t hear from her? Not really; I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.

What role did your father play in your childhood? He wasn’t around much; he was busy with work and when not, was taking care of his own need for “down time”. He was supportive but not too involved in day to day living.

What was your relationship like with your father? We’ve become much closer as time has gone by; I always felt loved even when he was “distant”. His love was always there.

How do you feel about aging? I love what it does to my brain (smarter) but I don’t care for what it does to my body (stamina, especially).

How do you feel about plastic surgery? Not interested.

Did your mother or another caretaker talk to you about sex and what to expect? Not as much as I would have liked.

How was your first sexual experience? I can’t remember; it was all “wrong” and I’ve blocked it out.

Is marriage liberating or inhibiting sexually? Neither.

What makes you feel sexy? Hmmmm….not sure.

Do you have the energy/desire for sex at the end of the day? No.

What turns you on? Someone who’s turned on by me.

What would make your sex life better? Turning back the clock 15 years.

How do you feel about the sexualizing of young women in our society? Very sad; it’s a societal problem created by both men and women unfortunately.

What is your work/career? Physician

What are the challenges of being a working mom? The guilt over letting others take care of your children.

If you had a choice to be at home with your children, would you? No. Do you see evidence of “The Mommy Wars” in your everyday life? No. Most of my women friends worked outside the home and most had children. They were like me in most respects.

Was the decision an economic one (e.g., your family requires two incomes)? No.

Do you beat yourself up for not spending enough time with your kids? No. When I wasn’t working I spent almost every moment with them when they were young. They had a lot of Mom (and Dad) time.

Do you feel supported by your partner? Absolutely.

Do you feel supported by other women? Yes.

Do you feel valued in your workplace? Absolutely.

Do you feel valued at home? Not as much as in the workplace.

Do you believe a happy, fulfilled mom is a better mom whether her choice is to work outside the home or to stay at home with her children? Yes, I do.

Can women do it all? I don’t think so; a partner/spouse who is willing to pitch in 50:50 or 70:30 or 20:80 and go with the flow and be sensitive to the needs of the entire family is essential. I was lucky.

How old are your children? 21 and 23 (yeah!)

What do you want to do differently with your children than what you received from your parents? I hope I’ve prepared them better for the unexpected twists in life but I suspect they’ll meet up with challenges that I never had and will therefore be forging ahead without the benefit of preparation. That’s life.

What would you like to carry on that your parents established with you? A respect and love for traditions.

How has having children changed the relationship with your partner? We are closer for having raised these two children. This was our hardest work together and we “did it”.

Do you have dates with your partner? Yes.

Do you have personal “ME” time scheduled every week/every day? Yes.

Has it been challenging to retain a separate sense of self from your role as mother & wife? Not really.

What do you do to facilitate that? Does your partner help make that happen? My career keeps me grounded in a role other than wife/mother and is totally separate. My husband has always respected my need to work outside the home.

How do you combat stress? I talk it out with whoever will listen.

Do you get out regularly with girlfriends? No, but wish I could. Women are a wonderful resource for other women.

Do you help create personal space for your partner? Absolutely. I sometimes muse that he has his physical space in the house and I have mine; we meet up of course but privacy and personal time alone is something we both need and have gifted each other.

Does your partner share in household tasks? Yes. He is the cook. And he cleans too.

How did you think your life would be when you got married? How do you feel now? I never looked beyond about 5 years when I got married; I just couldn’t “see” that far ahead. The first 5 years were pretty much spot on. I then looked at the next 5 and so on. Now I look back on a 30 year marriage and see all the hills and valleys in our relationship, the good times and the awful times. I still can only see about 5 years ahead.

What do you love about being a working mom? If I hadn’t had a career while raising my young ones, I would have gone nuts. I needed the balance of career and motherhood to make sense out of both.

Are you happy and/or fulfilled with your life? Why? I’ll be honest; no I am not happy or fulfilled in my life. Why? Because I still struggle to accept that joy comes from within.

What do you yearn for? Relief from worry, acceptance, and joy.

Thank you, Kate

The Motherscribe Interviews are closed to comments. For more about Kate, please find her on Ahead of the Wave.

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