How the women before me inspired me to be selfish
My grandma is so badass. Irish Catholic, of course. Margaret "Peg" DeLacy. While she raised 4 boys, she was a nurse in the neonatal unit in the hospital. Before that she was an officer in WW2 as a nurse. Her future husband was a private.
Grandma Peg's mother was also college educated. Grandma Pegs's grandmother, straight off the boat from Ireland, smoked a corn cob pipe. She was also college educated and she was a teacher.
Fuck. I come from a line of strong women. DeLacy women have never been weak. Since the 1100's. Maybe that's for another post.
I'm not close to my maternal grandmother but no one would ever describe her as weak.
My mother is so gorgeous. She is maybe one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen. when i was young, she had long, curly, thick hair. I cried when she finally decided to cut it short; I was 9. She's tall and curvy. Her laugh is loud and infectious. Her smile is huge. Her teeth are naturally perfect (like my dad's and brother's. I was the only one to get braces). She bleaches them so that she has the most perfect smile. She is athletic and strong. She's funny but not threatening. My mom has traveled and keeps up with the news but she holds no strong opinions. She's spent her whole life tiptoeing around men and it has served her well. People adore her. She doesn't scare them. People always come up to me and tell me she is the nicest lady they have ever met. Going to her office is (almost) a nightmare. People flock to me to tell me how much they love her.
My mom is beautiful, she is smart, she is kind. She is a million things. I am in awe of her. She is a badass and she is not my idol. While my mom is smart and hardworking, I've always wanted more than my mom strived for. But more than that. I am much louder than my mom. I'm funny and crude. I'm bawdy and profane. At times, I'm adventurous and wild. I'm a mess and I love it. My mom hates it. Well, she used to.
On Christmas eve, it was me and my mommy in the kitchen. We were buzzed. My step dad was asleep. And we just had our secret-not-so-secret cigarette after spending the night with my aunt and cousins. I have two older cousins, Kristin and Melissa, who got married young (23, 25 respectively). They both have kids now and own homes in the suburbs. Even though I love them so much, I find their lives to be boring.
I don't know what we were talking about but I looked at her and said "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not Melissa or Kristin. I'm sorry I didn't meet a guy in college and marry him and have kids with him in my early 30s. I'm sorry you don't have that life. I know you want that." and I cried. It might've sounded sarcastic but I meant it wholeheartedly. I was heartbroken that I didn't give her the life she wanted for me and that she wouldn't get the benefits of grandchildren, a child living close to her, a son in law.
She looked at me, with tears in her eyes, but with the most stable and confident tone I've ever heard from her and she said "I love Kristin and Melissa and I love their kids. But you inspire me. They don't inspire me. You inspire me to be a better person."
I'm the first generation in my family to choose a life I want before anything else.
I'm the first in my family to think of myself first, to think of my dreams. To have dreams. to do whatever the fuck I want. Currently, I'm torn between living in Cleveland, a city which I love and moved here for a job from the third biggest city in the US, and moving to New York, or moving internationally. God, I'm so lucky. My choices are endless and impressive and made by me.
I am the first woman in my family to not to marry young and have babies young. The women before me did amazing things in their careers and made beautiful families. Albeit, they did big things, but all as a response to the life chosen for them. Or they did those things side by side, undoubtedly feeling torn between what their families and society has told them they should be doing and what they truly wanted.
I'm not doing it at the same time or as a survival tactic. I'm choosing me first. Unapologetically.
I don't have kids. I don't want them. I want to be me. I don't have to get married or do anything I don't want to. The only thing I have to do is everything I want.
When my mom was a teenager, her dad told her "Sally, you don't need to go to college. you're too pretty. you'll marry rich". While that might sound like a suggestion, he was actually telling her not to go. He told her he did not approve of formal education.
In May, I will be the second woman on either side of my family to get a masters degree. The only one on my maternal side.
I come from a line of bad ass women but each line has looked different and none of them looks like a life I want. But it doesn't mean I don't admire them. I love each and every one of them and thankful for the work they put in before me. But I am me today. I am the first to choose myself first. I am the first to think about my happiness and my career first. And while I'm doing it, I'm inspiring my mom to be a better person. God, I couldn't ask for more in life. That feels really good right there. But I do want more in life. I'll ask for more and I'll get it.