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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
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Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 2. May 1977. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. May 6, 2021. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4076.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(May 1977). Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 2. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4076

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977 - Page 2, May 1977, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed May 6, 2021, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/4096/show/4076.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, Vol. 2, No. 5, May 1977
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date May 1977
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Page 2
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File Name femin_201109_528b.jpg
Transcript Mother's Day Diary By Wendy Haskell Meyer First, memories of my mother. Everyone adored her. Always smiling. A strong woman, when it was not fashionable to be strong. A caring woman. But with a lifetime of disappointments and tragedies. Her parents divorced. She married my father at 18 to escape a bizarre and unhappy family situation. Then she herself divorced when I was three. Kept house for her physician father in a big Commonwealth Avenue brownstone in Boston. Until he began acting strangely and was eventually committed to a mental hospital with neurosyphilis. One of a series of challenges she accepted with good humor. During them all, she taught me the most enduring lesson of my life: Laugh — at the world, at yourself, at your problems. Then you survive. Memories of my mother. We have moved to the suburbs so I can go to good public schools. She runs a knitting shop in our house and has married again to a very sweet person who seems to love me too. His business does not go well and she goes to work selling printing to small businesses. It means walking all over Boston every day and she makes it sound funny and exciting. ^rV''^^-'"^;1- ,.'• J-.'.' 11,' ■»• But how embarrassed, enraged, sad, mortified I am when my mother frequently has too much to drink. I can tell her intake at a glance by the way she holds her mouth. "Mom," I tell her in my most scathing voice, "your teeth are loose again." And I cry in my bed at the top of the stairs one night when I hear her staggering and falling on her way to bed. And I shout so only I can hear: "I hate you when you're like that!" Memories of my mother. I suppose she disciplined me but I never recall a really cross word. I wanted to please her and when I left her every summer to visit my grandparents in Maine, I had to run to the bathroom three times a day for the first week to cry with homesickness. And when she was dying of cancer, and I was by then 35 and living in Michigan, I felt myself torn apart, for I was 1000 miles away and had four daughters of my own. I flew back to Boston at least three times when her doctor said her death was imminent. She looked like a skeleton, her cheeks sunk in, her bones sticking out. She was 52. And still laughing. My husband would call me and say, "We need you. This could go on forever. You'd better come home." So the day she died, I wasn't even there. And I wondered then about loyalties — to your mother, to your daughters, to your husband and to yourself. Who comes first? Memories of my daughters who are so beautiful. But then I'm prejudiced. Looking back to 1949, it was a marvelous atmosphere in which Jane and I had our rites of passage together — I into motherhood and she into life itself. It was at Grace New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. Natural childbirth was the local obstetrical religion and I was an enthusiastic communicant. I learned my lessons well. "Take a deep breath, now push hard, no, slow down now, take some short gasps," my obstetrician coached me. After I gave that last grunt and pushed her out, I was as euphoric, as high, .as I guess I have ever been before or since. I wanted to sing and laugh and shout to everybody — Look what I did. Look at my baby. Look at us. And oh my Cod, was I thirsty for* a glass of ginger ale. Had I thought to choose motherhood? Of course not. It had never once occurred to me in my first 25-vears that I would do anything but get married and have'a family. That was what normal, desirable womlsn did. Period. I remember the pall of pity which enshrouded my cousirf Cynthia. She had not conceived in two years of marriage. This, in the Forties, was such a tragedy that we were all instructed not to bring up subjects related to pregnancy or children in her presence. We all pitied Cynthia as a woman without a future. I kept having babies. Each pregnancywas a diaphragm mistakebut welcomed by my husband as another possible son and by me as something that happened. Another child-to love. Unplanned, unquestioned. I was rapidly finding a new role as the mother.of — getting on the PTA board, running car pools, and, before long, interrogating dates who by this time were calling on my teenaged daughters. I was also becoming the wife of John, who worked long hours and was mych jought after in medical and social circles and shared his life with me as much a$ he could. That was fastinating. K took rneto the White House and to Europe several times. Funny, with all that going for me, I began to slip into degression, f didn't feel comfortable in suburbia'where the other women seemed prettier and chic-er and cleverer than I. Other peopleVkids conformed. Mine didn't and there just didn't seem to be anything I was good at. I ruled out suicide only because I didn't think my five girls could manage without me. I started my secret journal that year. Sharing my 3g0/iies with it, pages of introspective misery and poetry. When my husband and 1 had a fight, which we began to have more often, instead of teHing him what I was feeling, I told my journal. That's how I started writing — to survive, like laughing, which I'd temporarily forgotten how to do (it comes back). My worried husband sent me to a psychiatrist. I was expected to do most of the talking, between sniffs, bgt he did say that the reason my self e$teem was sq low must be that I'd felt rejected by my father when he and my mother divorced. I said I felt worthless because I was worthless: I'd never been anything but the daughter of, the Wife of, the mother of. And I wasn't so hot at any of them. Wendy Meyer wasn't anyone just by herself. About that time, I read The Feminine Mystique. OhmyGod, somebody else feek the same way. Halleluja! Instant feminist. But a closet feminist for the first few years. We moved to Houston in 1969. I startedgoing to NOW meetings. I had some initial anxieties at them because it appeared I was the only feminist over 40, married and planning to stay married. When I tried to discuss feminism with other married women of my age, they said that either my head or my marriage was rocky, when, in fact, both were doing very well, thank you. I brought at least one dinner party to a screaming halt by suggesting to my host, an airline pilot, that women be allowed to fly too. I bided my time and made close friendships with young journalists in town, worked on Houston Journalism Review, began publishing fairly steadily in Texas Monthly, the National Observer and other markets — not the secret journals, but lifestyle and medical stories. Once over his initial concern that my interest in a writing career camouflaged a disinterest in our family, my husband became extremely supportive. So here I am at 52, having recovered from that angry stage most middle-aged, newly baptized feminists experience. I'm no longer blaming society or my husband or my children or myself for keeping me down. In fact, the irony of my position is that I most cherish what came out of those years down under. I have something my feminist daughters will likely not have themselves: five daughters. And a 30-year-old marriage held together with love through the usual deaths and rebirths of every marriage. Until all those shared joys and agonies have made it, if not impregnable, then certainly warm and comfortable. I suspect that our certainty since our twenties that our marriage was for a lifetime became a self- fulfilling prophecy. Who would make a dumb prediction like that today? A household of women must be hard for a man to live in. A world of stockings and tampaxes and breasts and curlers and dresses and high heels: And in our family, at least, no car manuals. No baseballs. No lawnmowers. We kept our conventional sex roles. Now, when my girls and I, all six of us, are together (which rarely happens), we are so close, so full of inside jokes, of shared confidences and reminiscences, that it takes special care not to offend/exclude husbands and friends present. I look back and wonder about that stranger, Wendy Meyer, in her twenties and thirties. If I'd known then what I know now, everything would have been different. And I'm not so sure I'd. like that at all. ssraB f?rm?r^Wr^W HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH • MAY 1977 • PACE 1