Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's a Girl

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In years gone by, like when I was born, fathers did not participate in the birthing process. Dads either went to a bar and got drunk,  they went home to await the birth news, or they waited at the hospital and paced.  Mothers did not have a natural childbirth, unless they were poor or surprised.  The pregnant woman went to the hospital and the doctor administered some heavy drugs. The only thing the mother knew was that she went into the hospital, (with or without husband), went to sleep, and voilĂ„, a baby.  In my case, it was a baby girl.

My birth was not without controversy. My grandmother wanted the baby to be a boy.  Apparently, she went on and on about it .  My dad didn’t really care, and rumor has it, he wanted a girl. My mom was so out of it, she didn’t even know she had a baby, but being one of seven girls, there was no surprise about what it was like to deal with a female. 

When I was born, everyone said I looked just like my dad, who had a mustache at the time. So the doctor, being of good humor, drew a mustache above my lip, and the result was astounding. I did look just like my dad.  My grandmother (his mother) was still disappointed, but at least I looked like him. My other grandparents, (my mother’s parents), were delighted by my arrival. And they, having had seven girls and one boy, assured my parents that my birth was a gift, and perhaps, one day they would be blessed with a boy.

What’s really interesting is that in my professional life, I have mostly had jobs that were traditionally jobs given to men. So you could say that I was compensating for the way my grandma felt by trying to prove that I was good enough, but that’s not the case.  The simple fact is that my dad always encouraged me to do what I wanted to do. He said that I could do whatever I wanted to do if I worked hard and stayed on course. Thing is, that when I was in middle school I wanted to take shop (fixing cars and making wood things)  instead of home economics (cooking and sewing)  and they wouldn’t allow it.  It was my first run in with the injustice of gender inequity.  I was not going to settle for being denied a something I wanted, just because I was a girl….and that’s the story of my life.

It’s a few years past where I expected I would be professionally. But I’ve had an eclectic professional history with the only consistency being that every four years I have worked in Presidential politics, and the years in between, I have worked in great places in media, academia, government, and who knows what else,  but politics was my true love.

This is not a political blob, but after the first Obama victory, I left Washington, government and politics and started to produce musical theater.  It sounds like an unlikely transition. It is not.  There are so many kids in politics that I no longer belong. But mostly, this administration, about which we were so hopeful, does not make any personal sense. An administration, much like a human being, must transition from speculation (the campaign) to real life (governance), and this administration didn’t. But this woman did.  I am surrounded by family and friends. Tomorrow is my birthday and I would not change a thing. I have a wonderful family, a wonderful home, a wonderful career, and a life filled with positive expectation. No regrets, only hopes. What a lucky birthday girl am I.  We’re just sayin’.. Iris

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