This I Believe
“Jab cross knee tap knee tap kick.” I hear the muffled voice of my instructor chant in time to the remixed beat of some Madonna tune. As I look around my (nearly all-female) Tae Bo class, I am struck by the thought, that for better OR for worse, we are not our grandmothers’ generation.
For better – I am blessed with advances in medicine which offer pain relief of everything from the common cold to child birth. I know that cholesterol is bad and that smoking has inarguably been linked to cancer. I know that I can be a wife, AND a businesswoman, AND a mother. And beyond that, I am allowed to determine the if’s, when’s and how’s of those choices.
For worse – I am rarely treated like a lady, because quite frankly, so few of us act like ladies. I am surprised to have doors opened and chairs pulled out by men who simply respect my gender, without questioning its capabilities. These small chivalric gestures happen less and less as yet another generation comes of age.
Furthermore, because I have tasted the fruits of intellectually stimulating conversation and professional clout I’m afraid that I will never be content to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a say at home wife or mother. My gender role is no longer clearly defined, and as wonderful as that can be, it has always brought with it a curse of confusion and miscommunication in my relationships.
“Jab jab cross jab hook jab cross.” I watch the instructor’s moves closer, now that I wear earplugs. Feeling too old, because I know that the music level is damaging, yet too young to admit defeat and take an easier, quieter class, I continue.
In the end, I believe, that for better AND for worse, we have both the opportunity and the obligation to embrace our short time on Earth. So I choose to sacrifice my efforts at a graceful spirit, such as my grandmother embodies, and focus instead on gaining the type of independence that led me to live in Europe for a year. I choose to enter the workforce and to be an outspoken person, but not without suffering the consequences of an untamed tongue.
The instructor pauses as we all break for water. I consider my grandmother: was she progressive for her era, or was she the soft-spoken “ideal woman”? What will my granddaughters think of my time here? Will they be proud of progress made, or saddened by femininity lost? Perhaps a little of both.
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