What is expected?

It’s nice to revisit old things. I like to re-read Jane Eyre, Wild Ink, Matilda; books I love, shows I really love, music I really love – art that is timeless and speaks to me and will hold meaning for me forever. They mark important eras and personal moments. Give it that special touch.

Sharing that with others is what brings people together. Now, my husband and I had very different upbringings. My fam was poor, his dad was a successful business owner. He had never watched the old show Cheers and we did. Big time haha

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Sure he’d seen a few rerun episodes because it was so huge in the 80s and early 90s, but I grew up on it. The Cheers theme song was literally my lullaby when I was a kid. When I was little, like baby/toddler little, my parents had my sister and I listen to the song while they sang along and then they would tuck us in and put us to bed so they could watch the episode. As we got older, we were allowed to sit up and watch it with them.  I have a lot of emotional history with this ridiculous sit-com.

It was a good show. It had the best theme song ever written. That song is soothing, meaningful and does play like a lullaby. You can sing it to a child even though it’s about a bar.

The hubs wanted to give the show a-go and was really enjoying it. We were watching through the first 5 seasons (I have this theory that shows are only good through 5 seasons, because after that story lines get stretched thin).

Cheers lasted for 11 seasons, and I love Kirstie Alley. She was cute and funny to me. My husband found her character annoying because she shrieked and was whiney.

As a kid I thought that was hilarious, but as an adult I get where he’s coming from. I still love her but I get why that brand of comedy isn’t for everyone.

So we’re watching the Diane story line (the main female actress, Shelly Long, left the show after 5 seasons and her character was Diane). It’s a crazy chaotic romance between her and the main character, the bar owner. They’re finally happy together and about to get married. But of course the show wasn’t ending (Like it probably should have) so the writers had to remove her in a creative way.

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For 5 seasons the dragged out the on-again off-again will they or won’t they crap that NBC is known for.

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It had a lot of great moments. Things that would not fly at all on TV today. I love it. I think it’s hilarious when Sam and Diane were smacking each other in the face because they were both insane and they deserved each other.

Right or wrong wasn’t an issue in shows back then. If it was funny, we laughed.

I miss that.

It was good comedy. Good comedy doesn’t care about anyone’s politics.

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We got to the last episode in this story and my husband and I got stopped up because of how they wrote this relationship away after building toward it for so long. (I’m not mad or anything. I’m not going to call out internet mobs. I understand and appreciate things for what they are and the time that they were created in.)

But how they wrote her off of the show was something I couldn’t remember. I was as clueless as my husband. And… wow!

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I am a female author.

I am a wife.

And a mother…

And I work full time.

How I look at women’s rights and feminism comes from my mother and my grandmothers’ standpoints. I respect 1st and 2nd wave feminism. Not the 3rd wave. I don’t relate to it. It’s too petty and spiteful at times to me. Maybe that’s just because I’m getting older and I do appreciate motherhood and traditional femininity more a lot of modern feminists seem too. That’s just where I’m at in life. Haha

In watching this dated show I see the necessity.

Diane was written off the show in such a way that it’s made me stop and examine the literary community and what is “expected” of a writer, or the stereotypes put forth from the publishing industry and mainly, what is expected of women writers in specific.

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The character in question was in the throes of planning a wedding to embark on the next phase of life when her old college professor, a man she had an affair with (who left her), comes back to announce that he submitted one of her old manuscripts to an agent he knows. This pro thinks it has great literary quality and that with some work it could be traditionally published. There’s an insinuation that this will be a huge deal and put her on the map as a great American novelist.

She and her fiancé go back and forth. He suggests postponing the wedding. She argues that that’s all behind her because she wants to be a wife and a mother and apparently women can’t have families AND be great writers…

At this point, both my husband and I sat up and our jaws dropped.

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I am doing the very thing that she and everyone around her are saying can’t be done. I am a wife, a mother, and an author. No I am not a New York Times bestseller. YET.

The key word is always yet.

I work my ass off. I do everything I can to balance it all. I am at every dance recital, karate practice, I volunteer for all of my kid’s events and roll around on the floor with my almost 1 year old son. I have 3 kids AND a writing career.

I write for a living (thanks to a steady day job writing for a local company), in an office, where I can take off on my lunch breaks and spend it with my family.

I get maybe 6 hours of sleep a night. But I don’t care about that, because I don’t need a lot of sleep. I’m a high-energy person and I love my family. I also take care of my body with proper diet and exercise which fuels everything.

I also love what I do.

Sitting there listening to a woman clearly state, believe, and adhere to the notion that she couldn’t have a family and be a Great American Novelist really struck me.

It’s preposterous. Maybe lazy writing even, but that ended that story line. Her fiancé decided that she deserved her shot at her dreams and let her go. She had this idea that they’ll get together later, but it never happened.

And

Damn

I’m really glad that times have changed.

Even if they hadn’t, that wouldn’t stop me. When someone tells me I can’t do something I do it twice.

I was stubborn from within the womb haha

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To hear a woman going on and on about how she doesn’t want to be a writer because she wants to be a wife and mother really struck my husband and I. He straight up shook his head and said, “That’s really kinda sexist.”

No kidding.

It left me speechless.

I thought of all the female authors out there.

Beverly Cleary was a wife and mother. Yes she wrote children’s books, but she found a way.

Mary Shelly was a wife and mother and birthed a new brand of horror.

Ursula K. Le Guin was a wife and mother who laid the foundation for J.K. Rowling, who was a single mother when she gained success.

Charlotte Bronte and Zora Neale Hurston were married, as is Ann Patchett.

There are countless wives and mothers finding success in publishing right now. I am one of them. No I’m not a household name, but I support myself with writing and make a nice chunk off change of my creative endeavors. I’ve had some commercial success in that I can walk into a Barnes & Noble and find the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book that featured one of my stories, and later this winter/next spring I have a piece to be published in SageWoman Magazine that will also be available with that well-known and respected national bookstore.

I don’t know how to explain the feeling that comes with hearing it is impossible to do the very thing you are doing.

It makes me laugh. I find it hilarious.

Society once made our decisions for us. Anyone who wants to run around screaming about how oppressed women are nowadays didn’t see things at their worst. We get to make our own decisions now and we don’t even have to choose between domestic lives and professional ones. I’m truly thankful for that.

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Sure the road is hard, but every professional endeavor is.

My mom recalls her terror at watching women “destroy” her hopes of being a stay-at-home mom during first-wave feminism. She wanted to stay with us. And she did for a short while but the economic impact made it very difficult long-term.

What I draw from that is that women’s rights isn’t about fighting for the right to work, it is about the right to make one’s own decisions. Some women want to stay home with their kids, some don’t and that should be decided by individuals based on their needs.

I was a stay at home mom for 5 years. That’s actually how my writing career started. Oddly enough, I had always written, always had that creative pull, but when I was at home with my children I wrote more and that’s when my work started to come together. I had moments during the kid’s nap-times and after they went to bed where the ideas just went nuts. I kept a notebook within arm’s reach because I would find lines coming to me while I was cooking and cleaning. I worked my ass off and found comfort in writing as my then husband, now ex-husband, emotionally left me to handle everything and quite often physically too.

And no, writing didn’t kill my marriage, it gifted me the insight to leave something that wasn’t working and find real support from a person who knows how to truly reciprocate love and devotion.

So to say that a woman, or anyone can’t be an author because they are married and raising children was something I believed to be an outdated 50s mentality. Then in watching a show from the 80s and early 90s it popped up and spoke to me of how different society is now than it was even then.

Life has changed so much.

Tides turn, lifestyles adjust. Change always comes. The changes I experienced throughout my own life prove how very far we have come and I wish more people recognized and celebrated that.

6 thoughts on “What is expected?

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