Happy Fathers Day to all you dads out there!
I went and visited with my dad last night, and he told me stories of my family. This time he showed me some pictures of his father that I hadn’t seen before.
I’ve been thinking this weekend about the gift my father gave me that I’m most grateful for, and I think that it’s he never gave me any indication that I couldn’t do something because I was a girl.
My daddy’s parents were farmers, and as his father’s health deteriorated he was unable to work in the fields. So my granddaddy stayed home and cooked and kept house while my grandmama worked in the field with her kids. My teenage father could pick 300 lbs of cotton in a day. So could his mother. She also put up food to feed the family. She sewed clothing for her family as well as for extended family members. And she cared for foster children. She was amazing.
As an adult when I moved into a home and needed to connect my washer and dryer, my dad came over, but he didn’t just do it for me. Instead, he showed me how to do it. The cord on the dryer had to be changed out; he showed me how to do that as well. His message was always, “You can do this.”
Contrast that with my mom’s dad who did things for me because I was a girl. But I never wanted him to do things for me. I wanted him to show me how to do them for myself. I’ve always chafed at men who have treated me like I wasn’t as capable as them because of my gender. Horse shit. I may not be as physically strong as you, but I can work you under the table. Needless to say that has not endeared me to many men. But I figured if my dad thought I could do it, that’s good enough for me.
Class structures have dictated the way women have been treated in our society. Families with money didn’t allow their women to work. Less affluent families allowed women to work but mostly inside the home doing “woman stuff” like cooking or sewing. The poor women were the ones that worked as maids, or in factories, or in the fields. A capable, competent woman who could do things was looked down on because that meant her family was poor. Funny, isn’t it? We looked down on poor women back in the day for working hard. Today we look down on them if we perceive them as lazy. I guess it has nothing to do with what they do or don’t do and has more to do with folks wanting a reason to look down on poor women.
My dad has always been a doer. He held down at least one job and often two. Today his health doesn’t allow him to do as much as he used to, but he still works. He works around the house as well. He’s an animal lover and he and his wife live with 3 dogs and a cat. He dotes on children and his grandkids are his joy. He is currently helping the two little ones grow their first tomatoes and cucumbers. At work he is trying to take two clueless teens who’ve signed on as summer help and mold them into workers. From the sound of things he’s got his work cut out for him. But I’m sure he’s up to the task. They’ll hate him at first, but one day they’ll thank him.
Here is wishing my dad a very Happy Fathers Day. And here’s wishing that fathers of today take a cue from my dad, and teach their daughters that even little princesses can change a dryer cord.