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Posts Tagged ‘Angels’

hr-angels-600x320“I think my guardian angel drinks.” This just popped up on my Facebook feed. It made me smile, not guffaw mind you, but it also made me think of Virginia Woolf’s famous advice to women writers. She instructed us to, “Kill the Angel in the House.”

By the Angel, Woolf meant the female — more specifically, the mother and wife — whose role in life was to be the gracious hostess-cook-and-mender, smoother-over of family tensions, and graceful supporter of the endeavors of husband and (male) children. Woolf had to kill the Angel, she said, because its top priority is self-suppression and conciliation, while to write one has to display “what you think to be the truth…” reblogged from “YeahWriters” on Tumblr

Granted Woolf was raised during the Victorian era, and started writing between the two great wars of the last century; and then there’s that messy part about her suicide at the age of 59 in 1941. When I was younger, I was slightly afraid of reading Woolf, like depression might be catchy and if I wasn’t strong enough… Still I often thought about her dictum to have a room of my own. In particular when I was trying to meet a deadline in the corner of my dining room with the Rocker’s band in the garage before the Bride had to be picked up from field hockey. Oh, and what would we do for supper?

Do women ever work – either inside or outside the home – without all those crazy household and childcare thoughts buzzing around in their heads? You know that men do not have those same thoughts while working; I dare you to find me the man who is wondering about his (insert anything we worry about here – child’s ear infection, dry cleaning, dog’s vet appointment, grocery shopping) while he is at work. When my wise mentor Great Grandma Ada headed off to get her Masters in Marriage and Family Counseling while her boys were still in school, I remember her telling me how she wished she could sit on the porch, like Lucy, her housekeeper/nanny, and snap peas with her youngest. But she had a Wild Heart, she cut her teeth on Betty Friedan, and so she left the Angel in the capable hands of Lucy. Ada was lucky, most women in the 60s didn’t have a surrogate homemaker.

Betty’s bible said, “Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women’s denigration of themselves.”

I find it disheartening that in this day and age the Angel in the House is still so much a part of us. Women are asked interview questions that are never asked of men with families. Even the top CEOs in business will make only 69% of her male counterparts. “Low expectations based on external factors like gender or race, rather than on personal skill sets, are particularly pernicious. Ambition (that Wild Heart) depends on belief in oneself, which requires recognition and reinforcement by others.”

And there’s the rub, the problem that two journalists, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, tackled in a recent Atlantic article titled, “The Confidence Gap.” http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/ Why is it most women don’t believe in themselves, or they downplay their promotion by saying they were just lucky; while demonstrating competence, why do we lack confidence? OK, so if you went to Catholic school it was kind of a sin to be too full of yourself. Still, it’s impossible to sum up Kay and Shipman’s research, but let’s just say it’s a combination of nature and nurture.

And the Angel in the House. It’s hard to feel confident when you’re juggling a home with children and a full time job. When women my age were defying their mothers and entering the work force, I often heard them opine, reluctantly for a “wife.” Because they knew beyond all doubt that no one would pick up the slack of laundry, cooking, dishes, cleaning, getting up in the middle of the night with a sick child, nobody. If they wanted something done, they had to ask for it because it just wasn’t in a man’s sphere of thought. “Honey, you’ll be at such and such a place at 5, could you pick up the kid, please?”

This Angel was always in our head. I was taught my guardian angel lived on the tip of a pin, I had no idea it could fly right into my brain! It’s about time we banished her, make her a margarita and bid her “Adieu!”

It was she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me that at last I killed her…And when I came to write I encountered her with the very first words. The shadow of her wings fell on my page; I heard the rustling of her skirts in the room. I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her. My excuse, if I were to be had up in a court of law, would be that I acted in self–defence. Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing. Thus, whenever I felt the shadow of her wing or the radiance of her halo upon my page, I took up the inkpot and flung it at her. She died hard. Her fictitious nature was of great assistance to her. It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality…Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer. Virginia Woolf

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Imagine you are traveling over the holidays. Added to the hustle and bustle of ornaments, caroling, wrapping, and eggnog let’s just say you find yourself checking into a hotel, alone. You’ve been reminiscing with family; maybe finding out something new about the siblings who grew up without you. They each have a story, and you’re not in it.

The Salvation Army came to the house Christmas in 1948 and Mike was mad. He was 11 and decided to get a paper route in order to support us. Self- reliance was a skill we all learned early.

Then an angel appears. There’s no sound of bells, no trumpets. Just a girl at the front desk with a name tag, “Angel.” Or maybe it’s a nurse named Van And you know that despite it all, life continues. Even now, especially now when illness strikes and we switch to a running game. When everyone wishes you a Merry Christmas. Love survives. Travel safe

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