When I was young I thought my mother had a boring life. She was a stay at home mother while we children were young. Then when I was in junior high school, mom became a secretary. She had various secretarial jobs over all the years of her career. Though, in fact, mom never considered herself to have a career at all. She just had a job. Dad had a career and he got insurance and retirement benefits from his job. Mom never got any benefits at all from any of her secretarial jobs.
It wasn’t until after mom and dad had retired that mom realized that she should have been treated the same as the men. She had friends who worked as teachers or government workers and they had retirement income from their jobs. Another friend had worked at the same company as my dad and she also had a pension. It was not unusual in those days for women to miss out on all kinds of job benefits. There were no legal requirements to treat men and women as equals. In fact, they always advertised jobs in separate columns in the classified for male jobs and female jobs. That was just the way it was.
After retirement, mom and dad spent winters in the south. Summers were spent visiting family and friends in the north. For awhile mom and dad had a second home near our home and my children could visit grandma and grandpa on their way home from school. We all enjoyed that very much.
After I had grandchildren, I asked mom if she had any advice for me. She said: “Always be fair”. She was talking about purchasing gifts for children and grandchildren, but I think it went further than that. She never played favorites.
After I retired, I realized I had planned my retirement to be similar in many respects to that of my parents. I wanted to spend some winter months in the south to get away from the cold weather. I loved to walk along the beach the same as mom did. I also got involved in community activities while I was employed and after retirement as well.
Now, when I walk along the beach, I find myself thinking a lot about my mother. I pick up seashells and save them as she did. I no longer think that mom had a boring life. I had the career that mom didn’t have. I went to college and pursued my dream vocation. But, when all was said and done, the most important part of my life was my family and my friends.
So, the little rhyme that I saw on a card once keeps running through my mind:
“Mirror, mirror on the wall.
I am my mother after all”.