Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Good Woman

As this January morning whitened, I took a taxi. The news was on and a story about a violent act committed by a youth was broadcast. The driver, hands clenched tightly on the wheel, expressed to me that, "The problem with the world today is that women think about their careers instead of thinking about their duty as wives and mothers."

His words are expressed politely, but there is an edge to them. "Life can be complex," I murmur. "No," he says. "My daughter will be a good woman."

From his mirror dangles a laminated photo of two children. The little girl looks out with huge, limpid brown eyes. I wonder about her. She’s wearing an orange butterfly clip in her thick, dark hair. I stare at it. A butterfly meant to be probing the heart of tiger lilies, meant to be ascending the sky in papery bursts, improbably strong. Will she find herself stretching, constrained, bound by glass walls she can’t escape?

The silence between me and the driver grows. I want to tell him that our children bear all our hopes, and fears, and expectations. That, these we wrap around us in the guise of love and care. I say nothing more, except, "Thank you" and "Have a good day", as I leave the taxi.

As I trudge through the snow, something in me yearns towards the little girl in the picture. A nice man, and one I’m sure cares deeply for his family, the taxi driver perhaps cannot see the butterfly he pleasantly hopes to confine within a jar. Should I have tried to say more, I ponder? I felt incapable of articulating any words which might have bridged the chasm between us. Am I being too judgmental, too righteous, too fanciful?

Later, I think of the paradoxes inherent in the form and physics of snow. It can be soft and hard. Light and heavy. Thick and delicate. It freezes and insulates. It compacts and fluffs. It is both secretive in what it hides and open-faced in what it presents. It can be so implacably glaring, and yet so softly, amorphously beautiful.

Like a good woman.


  1. A thought provoking post, Jo. Most parents would argue that they're doing the right thing by their children. I know we have to allow for differing perceptions of parental responsibility, and the presence of cultural mores. However, I still wince when I sense that a child is being held back, due to wilful insistence or plain ignorance.

  2. What a moving piece of writing. You take a comment and from it you spin pure philosophy.

  3. You really got me thinking with this post. Is it possible to raise children without some form of bias? Are we always going to want to try to form their lives for them in the way we think is best?

    Now I'll be reflecting on my own three adult children and how they were impacted by the attitudes (spoken or implied) that I shared with them as they were growing up...

  4. Jo, my hope is that man doesn't really know the woman he is married to and she will find a way to show her little girl around the obvious obstacles she will face in growing up with a father like that. When he said his little girl will be good, he didn't add the words "like my wife" so I am betting that woman and her little girl will step around his view of the world. Or at least that is what I hope.

    Your writing is amazing and your thoughts are even better.

  5. Perhaps she, and others like her, may find their way into moderrn womanhood anyway.

  6. Love this one,got me thinking. What a lovely picture too.

  7. Thank you for adding me to your Salt of the Earth. :)