For most of my life, my only parent was my Dad. My whole viewpoint came from a male perspective and yet, instinctively I knew there was undoubtedly another way.
My dad, although his male view was domineering, tried to teach me what being a woman meant, particularly as he thought my mother might have wanted.
Mostly he guided me with a firm hand and lots of rules, some spoken…some unspoken. On one hand, his rules protected me and on the other hand, they stifled me. I was always led by what “good girls” did or didn’t do and by what my mother would have wanted, according to my dad.
Did he really know what she would have wanted for me? Did he even want to know what she would have thought? He always assumed he knew best, but would she have thought so, too? I wonder.
Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, girls were given fewer choices or options for their lives. It was always an unspoken rule that I would go to college. It was acceptable to be a teacher or a nurse or a stay-at-home mother. My dad always said two things about college: 1. You need to go to college so you can find an intelligent, hardworking husband. 2. You need to go to college in case your husband dies and you have to work someday.
Marriage was the main goal for all “good girls” because of course, we could not be expected to take care of ourselves. We needed a man.
Good girls wore a white wedding dress and meant it.
Good girls went to Church,
Cooked dinner every night,
Were well read,
Played a musical instrument,
Held intelligent conversations,
Always looked attractive,
Were frugal with money,
Were good mothers,
And had some outside activity ie. bridge, church groups or volunteering
Some of these rules have served me well. In fact, all of these rules, in and of themselves, are wholesome and commendable. But, what about life outside of the rules? What about the un rules?
Follow your heart.
Dare to dream big.
Take a risk.
Think for yourself.
Try something new.
I know my dad did the best he knew how. I know that now. I didn’t think so for many years; in fact, my anger at him would sometimes squelch all attempts to understand him. My anger believed he was stubborn, selfish and unyielding.
I’ve come full circle. I can live by my own rules now and yet still be appreciative of his. I can be compassionate instead of angry and see that his rules were just his way of showing me love and structure. I realize he might have been frightened beyond measure to raise a daughter without my mother. I can finally let him be himself and I can be me. I can dare to dream big, take a risk or follow my heart. After all, I know the rules…all of the rules and I am peaceful in that knowledge. Once a good girl always a good girl? Maybe.