Biographical Non-Fiction posted January 9, 2023

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That moment when I realized I didn't fit.

Everything Changed


I'm sure I'm not the only one who had one pivotal moment when their perception of themselves changed.
Mine was one Sunday, after church, when my family and my cousins met for lunch at my grandmother's house.
My grandmother always cooked fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  There was salad and jello with fruit floating mystically in the red or green gelatin.  But the jewel in the crown was her beautiful Coconut cake.  It was impossibly white.  It tasted even better than it looked.
I've never been one who has had a problem "cleaning their plate."  If you put it in front of me, I ate it. (Except for the jello.  There was just something unnatural about that to me.) The reward for cleaning my plate was a nice big slice of that cake.
I was allowed to cut my own piece.  I carried it back to the table, seriously trying to show restraint and wait until I was seated to start eating.  
As I was two bites in, my cousin Brian told my grandmother that he, too would like a piece of cake.
"Gretchen, go fix him a piece of cake," she said.
Now, last time I checked, his legs weren't broken.  He wasn't a guest. And he knew damn well where the cake was.
"No.  He can do it himself."
I remember the quiet that settled on the room.  Grandmother stared at me.  "But he's the man.  You need to practice serving."
I remember thinking that was the dumbest, most unfair thing I'd ever heard.
"No.  He's being lazy."
She leveled her judgemental gaze on me and shook her head.  "You won't make a very good wife."
And, at eight years old, I became very pleased with myself.  I didn't want to be a wife, good or bad.  I wanted to be me.  Just me.
I looked at my mom who sat across from me at the table.  I thought I was going to get the look of death, but to my surprise, she winked.  
My other female cousins were mortified and nearly tripped over each other to serve Brian his cake.
But not me.  I felt like I was his equal not someone who should serve him.  
Times have changed, thankfully.  We teach our daughters that the sky is the limit.  I will serve my husband and he will serve me.  But we don't do it because it's our duty.  We do it because we are in this together.  
While  I may not fit my grandmother's idea of what makes a good wife, my husband seems pretty happy.


Growing up I wanted to be an independent woman. While all of my friends were trying to get a boyfriend, I was going to the movies by myself. I was comfortable being alone. Times have changed but I still feel like that rebellious little girl.
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