I have always considered myself an independent woman. I grew up blue collar and put myself through undergraduate and law school by waiting tables. Feminism was just a term I heard thrown around by older white women. Mom never used the term while I was growing up in the Inland Empire of the 1970's and 1980's. Mom worked but it was because she had to. She had no choice.
I always think about how hard Mom worked when I start to complain about my job. You see, I know what it is like to come home from a ten hour day of waiting tables. Your feet hurt so much that when you take off your shoes, you can't let your bare feet touch the ground.
Dad moved furniture and Mom waited tables for all of my childhood and most of my adult years. It was a necessity to pay the bills. We were what you called "bill poor". There was enough money for food and vacations and an occasional Barbie Dreamhouse but my parents paid for that comfort with their own sweat, aching feet and backs. When my 75 year old mom finally quit her restaurant job five years ago she was happy to leave it behind.
My parents' work ethic is the best thing they could have ever given my sisters and I. It is more valuable than any money or property. That work ethic is what got me through Mt. SAC Junior College and what propelled me into the editor-in-chief position at the college newspaper and what sustained me through my financial struggles while at UC Riverside and USC Law.
After graduating law school, I worked in corporate litigation at the big firms for six years with back breaking hours. In Texas at Vinson and Elkins, I saw female partners and senior associates with deep circles under their eyes working seventy hours a week while trying to balance family. I may have admired their cars (one had a Jaguar that I coveted) but I thought to myself, "Fuck that. I don't want to be them." (Yes reader, I even cuss to myself.)
Before he died from the pancreatic cancer that caused my formerly hefty father to wither into a tiny bird, he told me, "I thought you went to USC so you could work less not more." Dad was right and after he died I made a change and ended up at the Public Defender's Office.
This morning I started thinking to myself, am I a feminist? I may seem like one from the outside. I kept my last name which my husband Adrian reminded me of this morning. But that choice has more to do with wanting to keep a piece of my father alive more than anything else. I work full-time as an attorney. But I would rather not be working as a lawyer at all. I love to write. Writing is what I see myself doing full-time for long term happiness.
I don't have kids but it is not for lack of trying. If God gave me the choice between working and no kids and staying home and raising kids, I would take the kids (even triplets) and happily stay home to raise them through their young years. My point is, at this age if God gave me a miracle, I would not thumb my nose at the gift. If that makes me old fashioned so be it. It is not that I think you have to stay home to be a good mom, it is that I would want to. And I am lucky that I have the ability to make that choice.
At this point, feminism be dammed. I just want to be happy.