Gender Roles and Blogger Generosity

When I was growing up men and women still had very defined roles both in the world and in the family home.  Men were the main breadwinner and took care of repairs and maintenance around the home. The vast majority of women were still at home raising the children. The women who did work outside the home were mostly waitresses and secretaries.

At the same time, we knew women had the right to want more. I wanted more. I rejected all attempts to learn “women’s work” refusing to learn to sew, not wanting to be a part of afternoons baking and even rejected the idea of crafting as an outlet for creativity.  Instead, I went after a career and could be found with a hammer in my hand or under the hood of a car for fun. I wanted the freedom I believed men had to choose the direction of their lives not the constraints I felt society put on females.

As a mother I was blessed with two sons I could share my passions with. I taught my boys how to do home improvements and work on automobiles. I shared my love of the natural world and caught bugs and snakes to teach them the wonders outside.

I knew they were forming a different world view of gender roles when my oldest informed his classmates that women didn’t marry to have a man take care of them because he had a single mother who could take care of herself. He went on to say that should I marry it would be for love not for security. How that warmed my heart.

My sons were the first generation to see father’s choose to stay home to raise the children if the wife made more money and as a result knew they too had options previous generations of men didn’t have.

Yet, it wasn’t until this past month that I saw how opportunities for men and women have opened up for both boys and girls growing up today.

My grandchildren expressed interest in future career paths they might like to explore. My grandson wants to farm first but would like to have hobbies that allow him to work with his hands and tools.

My granddaughter has bigger dreams, although I see farming as a big job and one that we need young people to take an interest in. My granddaughter wants to be an artist, a fashion designer,  to work with animals (veterinarian),  make jewelry and restore furniture in her spare time and always adds that she wants to have a large piece of land to grow organic food.

I hope they find the time to pursue all their dreams.

Both children have grown up in an environment where they have been encouraged to explore all interests regardless of gender.  While visiting me both were eager to work with power tools just as much as they were eager to sit down and quietly sew or help prepare meals. My grandson has no aversion to any activity that in my youth would have been seen as women’s work, he had no fear of being called a sissy because he wants to explore these activities either.

The Gift of a Blogger’s Generosity

The children arrived on June 4th and laid out a list of activities they wanted me to do with them one of those activities was to have an afternoon to sew.  They wanted to make gifts for others and to  have at least one item for themselves.

A  few months ago, Marlene, had gone through her fabric collection and packed up a box she no longer had a use for. Marlene thought of the activities I do with my grandchildren and mailed the box to me hoping they would find a use.

We experienced the hottest June I can ever recall in this part of the country. I felt it prudent to bring the children indoors out of the heat on many afternoons. This was our quiet time to bake, craft and yes sew.

I opened my craft cabinet and let them look through the fabric. They each spotted fabrics they liked and pulled them out to brainstorm what could be made with them.  When I told them a blogging friend sent me these fabrics they asked me to send her their “biggest thank you” So thank you Marlene your gift provided us with countless hours of creative fun.

I thought you might enjoy seeing what they came up with.

My granddaughter spotted Raggedy Ann and Andy fabric she thought her cousin would like and spotting a bag of polyfill left behind by their aunt after I helped with a craft project for her it was decided a pillow would be perfect.  While the children had used the sewing machine before this was the first opportunity I’d had to teach them how to do a blanket stitch which she used to close up the pillow.

sewing blanket stitch

 

Her brother had to make a pillow as well, this one for him to take home.  The fabric on one side came from Marlene.

sewing pillow

The other side is from a pair of pajama bottoms my youngest son gave to me when they were too worn to continue wearing.

sewing pillow1

The children then asked if they could make potholders for their father because he didn’t  have any and constantly burned himself using dishtowels to remove hot pans from the oven.

This time they choose denim material that I’d saved from jeans my son could no longer patch, a scrap of fabric from an old project I did about four years ago and for the batting selected a fabric Marlene sent.

sewing potholder

I had spotted a similar pattern on Pinterest a while back and thought this was a bit easier than an oven mitt for the children to make.  Once they had the sewing completed they painted their hand to add their hand print on one side and wrote their father a message on the other. He loves his pot holders.

sewing potholder1

My granddaughter had spotted a pink fabric in the cabinet and decided it would be perfect to make a Christmas stocking for herself as she didn’t have a stocking at her father’s house. She drew a pattern, cut it out and then asked for directions to add a holiday fabric and hanger at the top.

sewing stocking

Also in the box of gifted fabric was a wonderful panel of the United States. I thought it would make a lovely wall hanging in the boys room.  I needed a big enough piece of fabric that could be added to the back of it and came across a heavy weight blue cotton duck that used to be a curtain in a previous home to cover a drafty window in the winter.

sewing map

While both children helped to make this wall hanging, my grandson was fast at work on a gift he was sewing for his baby cousin when I wanted to get a photograph. Sadly his gift to his cousin somehow left without my getting a picture of it.

Because I had previously made this a curtain it already had a pocket for a rod. I toyed around with taking it apart and making a neat opening for a rod but decided a simple slit would be enough of a job for the children to tackle. They pinned the blue fabric to the map and sewed it just like a pillow (inside out), then turned it around, sewed a hem around the entire piece to hold the seams in place and cut a hole for a rod to hang it.

sewing map back

Then my granddaughter spotted a white jersey fabric and hugged it to herself as she asked if I could  help her make a dress from it. I hesitated only briefly because I had plans for that piece of fabric but then smiled and told her I would.  She has folders of drawings of dresses she designs hoping I will help her to make them into reality for her. Unfortunately most of her drawings are to elaborate for my limited sewing skills and the fabrics she has in mind may have to be made rather than bought. So when I saw her fall in love with this plain white fabric there was no way I could tell her no, it was my one chance to sew her a dress.

We talked about her vision for the dress and I felt in over my head. She drew out a plan and I knew I was in over my head. I then drew a sketch of something simple and within my ability to help her make. She loved it. This is the dress we made together.

sewing dress

We spent three hot afternoons sitting by the fan and sewing, and for that there are no words to explain how thankful I am for the wonderful friendships blogging has brought into my life.

 

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36 comments

  1. Wonderful.
    you make good points about how things have changed, more options, so forth.

    and you are a wonderful Grandma, nurturing the children’s talents and interests. It will be interesting if some day we hear what they do as adults. Even if it is none of their current thoughts, they will be well skilled in many things, to take up as hobbies, or make extra cash, or much more. Well done.

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    • Thank you. When my boys were starting school I noticed a change in the economy. No longer were people getting jobs right out of school that they stayed with until retirement. That bothered me enough that I stressed upon my children to have hobbies that could be used to generate income in rough times. It’s served them well but I think the little ones today need to learn that even more. They are inheriting a very scary and unpredictable world.

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  2. Aw what great kids. They are fortunate having a Grandma to spend time coaching them.
    I have never felt the need to work within gender expectations in any way, it just so happens that what I enjoy most would have been considered woman’s domain. Although I’m handy with power tools and a lawnmower, and play sax in a band with 4 males, which is a little unusual for a female.

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    • You play a sax? I didn’t know that but I think it’s great I wish I could hear you. The older I get the more I find the activities I enjoy crossing over to what was considered woman’s work. It’s time to explore that side of my personality. But I still enjoy playing in the dirt and being dirty. 🙂

      It broke my heart to say good bye to my grandchildren we had a lovely visit.

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    • Thanks, Elaine, I think they are cute too. 🙂 You have no idea how busy they kept us but they were mindful of my limitations and after dinner found quiet activities to let me rest and get out of the wheelchair. They are truly sweet children. Yes, I know I’m biased. 🙂

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  3. I love the projects you’ve done with the kids. I like them especially because they ended up with something that was useful, just not something they will throw away or forget about in a couple of months. You granddaughter looks really good in that dress. Kudos to both of you for that.

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    • Live and Learn, I too was happy to see them thinking and planning projects that were useful. I purposely didn’t give them any suggestions to see what they would come up with. As for the dress, I have a feeling she’s going to get a lot of use out of it just because we made it together.

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  4. I am so delighted you were able to make use of all that fabric. It warms my heart. I’ll have to go through and see what else they can make use of. You are right to guide them to have lots of options in life. We should have all had an eclectic education.

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    • Marlene, your fabric was such a gift to the children. It would brought a smile to see their excitement in the beautiful fabrics as they went through the cabinet.

      If I could have one wish it would be to have all my grandchildren living next to me and having them homeschooled so they had all the time in the world to pursue interests.

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      • I’m with you on the homeschooling. Kids do better that way. I wish they all lived close to you as well. I’m going to be going through more very soon. The kid left yesterday to spend some time with his ex. He will work part-time for her and make a little to pay his bills while he gets other stuff up and running. I know one thing for certain. I want to keep living alone. I want him to find his own place if he comes back here. Living with your kids sure makes it easy to let them go. I like having them close but in their own homes. 😦

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        • I know your son has been very helpful to you but I’m sure it felt good to have your home to yourself yesterday. I feel for our kids, things are so difficult for them. My son called last night to tell me he’s been laid off for the third time in a year. My stomach tightened knowing I will have to start figuring out where I can cut back again to help him if he doesn’t find a job soon. It would be cheaper to just have him move in with me, if he wasn’t forced to stay where he is for custody issues, but the idea of sharing my home is more stressful than helping him financially. I hope both our boys find work that not only supports them soon but provides a bit of peace of mind.

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    • She is a sweetie. These two have grown so much it breaks my heart to think soon they might be too big to want to do these kinds of projects when they visit.

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      • Oh thank you 🙂 She is good but not good. She has just had to eyes operated on and will have glasses in 2 – 3 weeks time so she should be finally able to see and that would be fantastic. She is not developing that well, very small and not terribly responsive, now on alot of medications for seizures. Nearly 5 months but doesn’t smile alot. She is a darling though, very contented in her own wee world and not a hard baby except for doctor and specialist visits hundred of miles away. It will be exciting to see her with her glasses.

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        • Five months is good, I bet the doctors didn’t expect her to be doing so well at this stage. I find it so interesting to see how they can get a proper script for eyes on little ones. A friend has a guy who can’t speak yet the doctors have been able to fit him properly for years.

          I hope your granddaughter outgrows most of her seizures and becomes more responsive. You have a wonderful son and daughter-in-law to accept her limitations with love.

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          • No, they didn’t expect it 🙂 The specialists use a machine attached to a screen, they can look through the eyes and see where the light is bouncing off the eyes at the back of the brain to see where issues are and they try different lenses till it shows correct. Something like that anyway 🙂 🙂
            I hope so too but we all love her no matter what. The kids are great with her 🙂

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          • She will be a blessing to all who meet her. I’m glad the kids are all good with her. She’s going to be a little fighter and prove to those doctors that they know very little when spunk is involved.

            Yes, I’ve seen how they examine the eyes and it’s truly something.

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  5. Lois what a lovely Blog I begin my catch up with you. and how sweet of Marlene to send you the fabric.. 🙂 the children have all bee very busy and are getting very skillful like their Gran. 🙂 with a sewing needle.. Love the pillows and especially love what is written on those oven mitts.. 🙂 And your granddaughter looks lovely in her new dress.
    Sending you love and Hugs xxx Sue

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    • Yes, Marlene is a gem. The children were busy from the time they woke till they fell asleep, just like most children. 🙂 It helps they weren’t raised with television and I don’t have one because they learned to entertain themselves.

      As for that dress, I couldn’t get over how grown up she looked. It reminded me that they will only be little for a couple more years. 😦

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      • Yes each week I notice a difference in how our granddaughter grows.. And I am grateful she still loves to play imaginitive games with me. And is never bothered about the TV here now. Yet it is never off at her home. 🙂

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        • They grow up too fast. Once they start school the new phrases and interests really come out. Some of my grandchildren were raised off and on with television on a lot yet when they visit they don’t ask. The youngest two were raised with TV on all the time I’ll never forget the one day they came to visit and my granddaughter looked around and asked where the TV was. She was really confused but since I moved closer to her her parents say she doesn’t want to watch TV as much at home, and boy does she have an imagination. 🙂

          Like your granddaughter I think they enjoy the one-on-one attention they get. It’s hard as a parent, chores and work make us divide our time between them and the children but as a grandparent I can put off all those pesky chores and give them all my attention if they want it.

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          • Yes that is why I think we enjoy our grandchildren so much more. I think back and I am as guilty as the next at not spending quality time with my own children when I worked full time.. I was always preparing, freezing meals for the week at the weekends and washing, ironing and catching up with housework.. They did a lot of TV watching entertaining themselvees..
            Today I am more aware of how the TV is affecting young minds.. And back then there were not computers etc.. But we did a lot of board games together which they loved xx

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          • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Our little ones need to see both sides, the hard-working parents who are making life work for a family and the grandparents who have finances in order and have the free time to dote on them. I wonder sometimes if the time the little ones spend with me will influence them to want less and have more time when they start their families.

            Liked by 1 person

    • It’s very different from seeing them daily as I had the first five years of their lives but the time we have now is definitely quality time.

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