- As I continue to watch old reruns I have to pause to thank a few of the TV women who helped me sort through my life. I’ll talk more about Ann Romano later. My thanks also go to Edith Bunker (remember when she went on strike to get her own bank account?) and her daughter Gloria – a beginner feminist breaking free of the traditional subservient female role. There was Joyce Davenport (in Hill Street Blues) who maintained both her name and career and independence and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her guy Capt. Furillo. Rosie O’Neill (from The Trials of …. fame) came home after losing a case in court one day, poured herself a Scotch and sat drinking it in the dark, in her living room (I’d never seen it as OK for a woman to have a drink by herself before) and when a male friend came by she quietly told him she’d like to just sit this one through by herself. Amazing! Mary Richards – who wasn’t widowed, or divorced, or looking for a man to rescue her or support her because she had her own career. Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Hoolihan and the other nurses who taught us a thing or two about self-discipline and passion both. I’m sure there are more women whose TV roles were models for us; if you think of any do share them with the rest of us. To those I’ve forgotten, my apologies.
This walk down my personal TV memory lane has left me not only wondering about what other TV women have inspired you, but also wondering why there aren’t any shows about women who’ve retired and gone on to do wonderful things. Should we start asking for them?
Meanwhile, I just finished watching another episode of One Day at a Time. This one was about the struggles that parents who are divorced have to deal with; struggles far too numerous to mention – guilt being not the easiest. It’s that sense of being such an utter failure that you feel initially and that you work hard to overcome. While single-parenting. With real children and real lives. Nonetheless, what’s incredible about watching this show is that Ann, the mother, doesn’t apologize for her decision to end her marriage and become a real person in the world. The other incredible thing, of course – and I guess that’s another difference between TV and reality (I’m sure not falling for that “reality TV” business; hope you’re not either!) – is that both of her children supported her (and their Dad) and really wanted both of parents to be happy … without any evident sense that they’ve got stuff to deal with themselves. Each episode I’ve watched has been a reminder of how different the world was “back in the day” … way back in the late 70s and early 80s. Being divorced was still fairly uncommon then and for years and years it seemed that I had some version of social leprosy.
That was before I entered Phase 2 Divorce; the time when I began to see myself as a whole person and not just a part-person because I wasn’t married. My life then became more and more full, and I became more and more happy with what I was building … on my own. Indeed, I was once a part of a women-only dinner club; we gave dinner parties and invited each other since none of us – as single women – were ever invited to dinner parties unless somebody was trying to “fix us up”.
Did I tell you that sometimes I’m a slow learner? Sometimes, like so many of the students I’ve taught over the years, I need a little longer to really learn something than others might need. This was true for me in marriages it seems, so I’ve had at least my fair share (if not a little more than that) of starts and stops in this phase of life. I am so very fortunate – and blessed – to have met David when I was already 50 years old. By then we’d both had plenty of time to sort out who we were (at least to move ourselves along the path to a fairly solid spot) and, with a different understanding and awareness of what marriage might actually mean, we’ve shared our journey for some time now. One day at a time!