My sisters and I were brought up in Texas, which is considered the South by many parts of the country and admittedly, do honor many of the traditional ways of Southern women. Of course, we are not from the Old South like Atlanta, New Orleans, or Charleston; nor would we want to be.
We, like most women of my generation and older, are proud to be Texan, even more so than Southern. After all, Texas is where "men are men and women are senators and governors!" Our mothers made sure we were self-sufficient.
Our self-sufficiency was not due to any lack of "man" power. It was, rather a place where we needed to be so that we could survive even the harshest conditions whether they were economic, physical, emotional or even right alongside our men sharing in the labors of our "harvests".
My mother had survived with her mother and 4 sisters on a small government check after the sudden death of her father at the end of the Depression when she was 12 years old. They lived several miles in the country in a board house patched with tin can lids and an outhouse, no car and no indoor plumbing, walked to a one room school house down the road in the only pair of shoes they got that year for school. They literally wore dresses made from flour sacks. They ate biscuits with weevils in the flour because that's what they had. A neighbor would take my grandmother to town for groceries once per month. These 6 brave, strong women were tough. They survived with hard work, helping each other and doing without a lot that we take for granted.
I often thought that my mother just did not trust men, so she taught me to do whatever I had to do or it would not get done. There just were not any male or female roles. Well, the more I learn about my mother, the more respect that I have for her. She not only taught me to survive, she instilled pride in who I was and a love of family.
My mother has taken the world to raise, it seems sometimes. I can get so jealous of her at times because she is so giving and I am not, then at other times, I'm so awed by her because she is so giving and never asks for anything in return. I know she has been let down by many people, me included, but she is a real heroine to me.
She taught me that I can do anything, that I can be the leader or the follower and either one is okay as long as I do a good job. She taught me that I can take the dryer apart, fix it and put it back together, that I can change my own oil and my own flats. Those things are expensive so I learned to do them as a young mother trying to save money. My mother will tell you to this day that there is no one that can live on as little as I can when I have to do so. Well, that's her teaching me how to take care of myself and my family without having to depend on anyone else when I have to do it.
Being the wife of a Texas rancher (we have 6 cows, a bull and 5 calves, so it's a little ranch) I have had to step up and take care of things while the husband is away on business during the week. We have a neighbor's bull, fighting with our bull over, under and through the barbed wire fence on a regular basis. I have learned to stretch and repair barbed wire and how to shoot a 410 with one hand while driving the Mule with the other chasing the bull back through the gate. I can tell within a week when a calf is going to be born and I can use a post driver. I can drive the tractor and pull a hay rake or a mower. I have fixed a leaky waterer in the dog pen and shot copperheads on the back porch. I load and unload feed and hay and have put round bales out for the cows with the front end loader. I'm not bragging about all these things, but if my mother had not instilled the "can do" attitude in me, I don't know what we would do. We sure could not afford to pay someone.
Mother also taught me how to set a "proper" table, cook the appropriate casseroles for funerals and social gatherings, and not to wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. I can throw a "theme" party if I have to and yes, I can make the punch match the color of the theme. She made sure I knew to use crystal pitchers, real dinnerware and not paper plates or plastic forks and yes, I own a deviled egg plate.
Many people think that because women stay home and do not work outside jobs that they are pretty much worthless to society, but let me tell you some of the women I know in Texas.....are not afraid of work. Not only do they take care of the kids, the house, the yard and can throw a great party, they will get right out there beside their men, put their leather gloves on and unload a truckload of 70 lb. bales of hay, with a baby on one hip and homemade bread in the oven....well, not literally. (The baby was probably in his stroller.)
Along with the teaching of our mothers and fathers, our Texas pride permeates not just its women, but the men as well. How else would you explain the swagger and the stature of our men here in this part of the country? Don't you feel a little taller when you tell someone from another state that you are from Texas? A little bolder...a little more self-confident? Aren't you a little prouder to be from Texas?
My Iowa born husband has commented several times, "like the saying goes, 'I wasn't born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!'" and as a 5th generation Texan, I have to admit, he's adapted really well so I guess he's past the "damn yankee" stage and I'll let him stay.