Except Pee Standing Up

I used to tell my little girls, “Girls can do anything boys can do except pee standing up.” (I’m sure they both tried to pee standing up.) My daughters were born in late 1977 and early 1980. I felt responsible for raising them to be fearless and strong.

I  was born in 1952. I was not raised to be fearless and strong.

Nancy Pelosi was born in 1940, 12 years before me. She graduated from Trinity College, a women’s college in DC. She became a member of Congress from San Francisco and the first female Speaker of the House. Who told her she could do all that?

Hillary Clinton graduated from Wellesley, a women’s college, went to Yale law school before I graduated from high school and then become a congressional legal council and a Senator from NY. She may be the next President of the United States. Who told her she could do all that?

Anna Quindlen, one of my favorite writers, graduated from high school the same year I did. She went to Barnard College, a women’s college affiliated with Columbia University. She became a reporter for the New York Times, then later a novelist and a columnist for Newsweek. Who told her she could do all that?

My younger daughter played more with stuffed animals than dolls. Before she went to kindergarten, she told us she’d work at the Natural Science Center in our town when she grew up. They had a small zoo then.

She started at a women’s college, transferred to Greensboro College and graduated with a minor in biology. While she was in college she worked part-time at the Natural Science Center and had a month-long summer internship  at one of the NC Aquariums at the coast.

She moved to full-time at the Natural Science Center after graduation. By  that time, the zoo had grown and become accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Now she takes her own children there to meet Ruby, the parrot she trained, and to see the Aquarium she helped design.

We (the retired man I live with and I) told her she could do all that.

My older daughter became interested in our political system early on. In high school she watched CNN and C-Span (really) and became involved with Young Democrats at the state level. She decided she needed to go to college in DC, investigated schools and learned about Trinity College, a small Catholic women’s college.

She pursued scholarship money that made her enrollment possible at Trinity, the same college Nancy Pelosi attended. She became active in College Democrats at the national level, completed a White House internship and another with the New Democrat Network. She has worked as a political fundraiser since her graduation. She was invited to Ms. Pelosi’s special Mass (worship service) at Trinity on the morning of her installation as Speaker of the House and has a picture of the two of them on that historic day. Now there’s a picture on her Facebook page of her daughter “working” at her campaign office.

We (the retired man I live with and I) told her she could do all that.

My daughters pursued their dreams and built interesting, exciting careers with confidence and competence. I didn’t know I could dream big, but I made sure they did. And now we can all send that message to their daughters, Adaline and Maggie. Except for the part about peeing standing up, I think.