The Princess and her dear Lovely Blonde Cousin participated in a choral festival today. After a wonderful time singing, they returned home with me for a sleepover. In the car, they spoke of the future.
Lovely Blonde Cousin: Do you want to be a psychiatrist?
The Princess: No, a psychologist.
LBC: I want to be a psychiatrist and help people.
Songbird: Really? You want to go to medical school?
The Princess: I don’t. Besides, all psychiatrists do is give people medicine. I want to really help people.
Songbird: It’s true, they tend to do less listening to patients talk and more managing of medications these days.
LBC: So it’s like being a doctor?
Songbird: Psychiatrists are doctors.
The Princess: It takes a really long time to become a psychiatrist. But I guess it takes a long time to be a psychologist, too. And really? It should! Because you have to know a lot if you’re going to be dealing in people’s lives that way.
LBC: They make a lot of money, too.
The Princess: I guess so.
Songbird: Ministers go to school for a long time, too, to learn how to help people, but the money is a little different.
The Princess: At least it’s better than it used to be. In the Little House books, Laura wrote about how all the girls were nicely dressed except Ida, the minister’s daughter. She had to wear whatever someone sent them in a box. I’m glad I don’t live then!
I’m glad she doesn’t live then, either. I’m glad these two fifth-grade girls envision themselves in graduate school, working hard to prepare for careers with meaning and promise. I’m glad they don’t see limits, but endless possibilities.
It’s exactly this kind of empowerment of young women that is setting off what I pray will be the last gasps of the patriarchy seen in the legislation against abortion rights in South Dakota and Mississippi. I remain convinced that the underlying urge is not to preserve life but to preserve a way of life in which these two bright young women would not understand themselves to be capable and worthy of pursuing professions and making decisions for themselves.
I think of their beloved grandmother, who died when they were both two years old, a devoted Jungian who earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees both while raising The Princess’ father and LBC’s mother and the brother in between. She figured out how to balance home and family with her own calling to study and reflect, going to school at night, sharing cooking and childcare with her husband, the first woman in her family to attend college, much less graduate and go on for a further degree. She would be so proud of these young women. As am I.
No one wants these young women to have to make the hard choices that abortion involves, but I want that choice and all choices to be available to them as they grow into the powerful women they will be. Their possibilities are endless.