I am about to throw a grenade.
Now that the stardust has settled from Glenn Close’s emotional Golden Globes speech, I feel compelled to say part of her message bothered me.
Normally, I watch one awards show per season, and that’s the Oscars. Anything more seems like too much back-slapping for just one profession in a world brimming with so many unsung heroes. But his time I did check in on the Globes just at the moment Close won.
In a nutshell, she encouraged women to chase their dreams. Yes, yes, yes. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. I want to see more women curing diseases, flying rockets and running governments. (Especially now, geez.) For too long society has not been fully supporting so much talent.
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But here’s the part of her speech I’d like to examine:
“I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life and in her 80s she said to me, ‘I feel I haven’t accomplished anything.’ And it was so not right, and I feel what I’ve learned through this whole experience is that women, we’re nurturers. That’s what’s expected of us. We have our children, we have our husbands, if we’re lucky enough, and our partners, whoever. But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, ‘I can do that and I should be allowed to do that.’”
When I heard that speech in real time my gut reaction was an even mixture of “Bingo, sister!” and “Wait…what?” It still is, because I feel the role of being a “nurturer” was taking a hit. Is nurturer code for something? Like maybe at-home mom or some variation of? Only Glen Close can answer this question, but the implication is there.
If a person steps out of a profession/job for a few weeks, months, years or decades to guide an infant human to a state of thriving and eventual independence, is that a low-status situation?
And what about paid nannies and paid babysitters and unpaid grandparents who are also stepping in as nurturers? Are they not accomplishing anything?
The last time I checked, I know it’s impossible to land yourself a few babies, throw Cheerios and juice boxes on the floor, lock the door, do your thing, and return home at 5:30 p.m. Children must be raised. Not only that, our wise elders must be tended to and sometimes intensely cared for. It’s impossible to count the levels of human situations that call for caregivers.
I think wrenches are thrown at nurturers by the attitudes of those who have rigid views of success and accomplishment. Time spent raising children or caring for others is often regarded as a “hole in the resume.” That’s the part I personally think is “so not right.”
A nurturer accomplishes, and, if compelled, should be welcome and supported to switch fulfillment gears during and/or after nurturing.
As I considered tossing this grenade here, I witnessed a woman juggling an infant and a toddler in a frenzied Costco parking lot during a cold pre-snowstorm rain.
I was blocked in my lane, unable help her as she unloaded her charges by the cart corral. Her left hand grasped a clumsy plastic infant carrier. She used her right arm to pull her crying, squirming toddler out of the cart and onto her hip. Just then, the toddler dropped a stuffed animal onto the wet pavement. Without missing a beat--and still holding her drenched babies — she squatted down to pick up the teddy bear with a few free fingers. It was a gymnastic feat. She pivoted away, looking surprisingly calm. On the outside, anyway.
Give that woman a Golden Globe.
The whole scene above took maybe 12 seconds, but it gave me chaos flashbacks. The first 18 years of launching humans are enormous. And it’s all gymnastics, no matter how any family chooses to do it. I just hate to see the nurturing role regarded as something less than.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DeniseSnodell