My mother once complimented (or at least she meant it as a compliment) my former partner by saying she “worked like a man.” I suppose that implied something better than working like a woman.
My mother has never thought she was “good enough.” Or that “women’s work” was as important as “men’s work.” Handyman Dan “works hard” and without her supervision; caregiver Michelle can do little right. She is never impressed when I do the jobs Dan does, or work my father used to do around the property. It is not in the realm of her comprehension that I am capable, therefore she ignores the fact that I have pruned trees, hauled dirt, built a deer fence, emptied a storage unit and relocated the contents, driven across the country, painted the entire interior of a house, built a brick patio, created gardens, installed rain barrels, built a trail through the woods. All of it by myself.
She used to tell me I was a good mother—though living on opposite sides of the country as we did, she really had no idea if I was a good mother or not. But that was women’s work, and she understood it, so she complimented me. (The sentiment ended with my divorce, but I was still a damn good mother.) These days, I rarely even cook a meal that pleases her. She has wrapped me up in the status she gives herself: not good enough.
I work like a woman. A strong, capable woman. Make no mistake. And so does my daughter. The cycle is broken.
Be these girls! Be a woman! (Watch here.)
Run, throw, fight, work like a girl!