Thursday, May 7, 2015

I Am Rosie

I've been extra emotional (uber-emotional, hyper-emotional, crazy-woman) these days. It definitely has a lot to do with the weaning journey Puddin' and I have been on in the past few weeks. We've dropped the middle of the day feeding and now we are down to just two a day. Couple that with a bump on the lip that knocked her frenulum loose causing her latch to change, and it's extremely uncomfortable to nurse now. I might as well stick my boob in a vacuum cleaner. Nursing is almost over, the last physical cord binding my child and I together. When she is completely weaned the cords will be there but invisible residing only in the heart.

I can't put into words how sad I am to let go of the entire pregnancy and post-partum world we've been in for the past 2 years. So it's only natural that I am gravitating towards anything that speaks to me of strength, resilience, change and growth.

On the way to the Grant Park Yard Sale last Saturday I heard on NPR that Mary Keefe, the woman who posed for Normal Rockwell's Rosie the Riveter inspired cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943, had died. She was 92. I like many other people immediately thought of the image below and I was mistaken. Mary Keefe's photo is above, complete with a ham sandwich and a riveting gun.

Mary Keefe, Rockwell's neighbor at the time, posed for the picture at 19, and only pocketed $10 ($144 in today's times).  This led me on a chase to find out more about the image, the stories, and anything "Rosie" related, because how else do you pass the time when you're nursing?  I already had a basic knowledge of this icon because I binged watched and fell in love with Bomb Girls on Netflix during my pregnancy, two years ago.  It definitely inspired my DIY pregnancy announcement photos, although I don't think I realized that at the time.

When I posed for this I was only thinking "look at me I'm pregnant", "how ya like me now", "I so can't believe this", "yahoo!". With the first trimesters aches, pains and nausea behind me, the fear of miscarriage greatly reduced, I wanted to shout the news of my daughters impending arrival. It took us at least 6 months of actively trying to conceive and we had already been married 5 years. I was starting to think it wasn't going to happen for me. Now when I look at this picture I think about how far I've come, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Pregnancy, labor, and the ever changing world of post-partum life. Everything about this picture says YOU CAN DO IT. Whatever IT is.

Looking into the story behind the real Rosie the Riveter I found out the it was not just about Geraldine Hoff Doyle the model for the most popular painting by J. Howard Miller in 1942. Rosie was a term to describe the group of women, Black, White, rich, poor, old, young all of whom left homes, towns, and various backgrounds to work in the defense industry during WWII.

Some saw it as a patriotic duty, but quickly returned to homemaking after the war (which is its own defense industry, but that is another post). Some saw it as a career move, a way up, out and onward out of poverty to a better life. For every woman it was a change from the norm, a catalyst into a new life, a new way of being.

Rose Will Monroe, another Rosie and best known for her roles in promotional films about buying war bonds, was also a single mother after a car accident took the life of her husband. After the war she continued to defy any traditional paths set for her and held a variety of jobs outside the home, like taxi driver, seamstress and eventually opened Rose Builders a construction company specializing in luxury homes. If that isn't non-traditional I don't know what is.

My life as it stands right now is also a little non-traditional and images and stories like these fill me with courage to stand on my own rocky path. I have to embrace this new phase that my daughter and I are moving into, one where she is not literally attached to me for most of the day. With that change I have to also embrace those moments of sadness and uncertainty. Like those Rosies, who were not only fighting multiple wars, some foreign, some domestic, and some blatantly racist ones right in their own backyards, I have to pick and choose my battles, choose the hills I want to die on (becoming depressed, and eating sea salt caramel gelato) and celebrate those small victories.

Oh, one more thing....In my searching I also ran across Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, in Richmond California (phew, that's a mouthful!). I have to visit it, then my Rosie mania will be complete. I absolutely smell a road trip coming on....but maybe when Puddin' is older. I've got strength and resilience but I don't think there is enough in me to survive cross-country with a toddler.