The Historical Nature of Tonight's Taco Dinner

I am a 46 year old woman and tonight while I was cooking dinner for my family, I turned the kitchen radio up louder than my toddler's rambling so I could hear the roll call of a woman being nominated for President of the United States of America for the very first time.  More than once, I put down my spatula to walk over to the counter near the radio so I could lean in and listen closer.  My eyes welled and it wasn't the onion I was dicing.

I am surprised by my reaction, honestly.  My tears and pride and just overall sense of being a witness to history are unexpected.  This candidate, the one with breasts and a uterus, was not my first choice.  I feel resigned to her representing me more than elated she is representing me, but still, something about her nomination gives me pause and a sense of purpose that I have not felt before in this election cycle.

These words tonight are not about encouraging you to vote for my candidate of choice, though, you know, sure, that would be cool.  More so, these words tonight are about my need to recognize the little girl I once was who always imagined this day was possible and what it would look like when it came.

As a young girl, I used to plead with my parents to allow me to stay up late to watch the news.  I have always, even as a young girl, been intrigued by politics and political players.  Local and national, politics was something that was talked about loudly and often in our home.  We watched political conventions in our home as a family, we talked about things like the death penalty, gun control, reproductive rights, the ERA.  I always had opinions, I always learned something when I watched and listened.  My insights, even in young childhood, were always welcome.

As a ten year old girl, I saw Chicago elect its first woman mayor. Jane Byrne was brash and tough as steel.  I admired her.  As a fourteen year old girl, I saw Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman Vice Presidential candidate, lose in a landslide that was attributed to Walter Mondale attaching a woman to his ticket.  I knew she was smarter and stronger than he ever would be.  As a twenty-three year old young woman, I got to be one of the voters who elected Carol Moseley Braun as the first female African American U.S. Sentator.  Progress was upon us!

These moments are not insignificant to me.  They have shaped me.

Jane Bryne, Geraldine Ferraro, Carol Moseley Braun, Hillary Clinton

Jane Bryne, Geraldine Ferraro, Carol Moseley Braun, Hillary Clinton

And now, tonight, as I cooked dinner, I came to the realization that as a 46-year-old, I am doing exactly what my Mom did as a 46 year-old wife and mother in 1980-- cook dinner for her family.  What I was certain would transpire in my life has not.  I have not broken any glass ceilings.  I have never lived in a high rise.  I have never been a high powered career woman who excels in her field.  Mission not accomplished.

My ten year old self and my fourteen year old self and my twenty-three year old self, I worry, might be disappointed in what I have become. I mean, I was going places, people.  I was going to do and accomplish great and important things.  Because, well, I was smart and strong and being a woman in no way relegated me to being a wife and mother cooking dinner every night for a bunch of ungrateful kids.

Exhale long sigh here.

So, forgive me, if I take a few minutes to breathe in and feel the impact of what has transpired today in Philadelphia -- the nomination of a woman to the highest office America can offer.  Commander-in-Chief. FLOTUS to POTUS.  And despite having spared my own head the impact of any glass ceilings, having never needed to ride on an elevator to my front door, having never conquered any corporate jungle, I am here, cooking dinner for my family, tearing up over one mission having been accomplished.  Today.  Tonight.  Right now.

Ninety-six years ago women got the right to vote.  It's been a long road of cooking those dinners and breaking those ceilings to get here today.  So many women have contributed to that in some way, shape, or form.  I am one of them, if only in small ways.  You, no doubt, are, too.

My life is a good one.  It is not the one I imagined -- I mean who in the hell imagines changing diapers at 46 years old?  But it is a good life.  It is full of love and challenges and smiles and ideas and discoveries and companionship and taco dinners with my boys.  It is a life where even when the first woman who has a real shot at capturing a nomination for President does not get my initial support, because, well, there are a lot of things that need doing.  But now that she has and now that we're here, I will pause and give the moment the respect it deserves.

I owe that to my ten year old and fourteen year old and twenty-three year old selves.

I'm with her.  And by "her," I mean my previous selves who knew this day would come, knew it was not some fantastic dream, knew that, of course, a woman is qualified to lead this beautiful, if wounded, country of ours. I am with every suffragette who sacrificed more that I can even imagine.  I am with every young Millennial gal who, perhaps, does not quite realize why today is an historical day.

History was made as I was making dinner.  That's pretty damn cool. Congratulations, ladies.  Well deserved.

Filed under: Slice 'o Life

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

Leave a comment