This card was actually a step up from years past, which brought me stupid Snoopy and Ziggy cards (yes, fuckin’ Ziggy). Growing up, I always dreaded them, because they were corny and obviously not super special enough for Super Special Me on my Super Special Day. “Oh boy, another card from V!” *yawn*
I was being a little shit. Only in the past few years have I realized, and come to really appreciate, the time and attention my aunt (a super-religious social conservative) has put into a niece with whom she frankly has very little in common.
When we talk about “women’s work” here, we usually talk about women in the professional work place, or, if we’re using those air quotes, about child-rearing or unpaid domestic drudgery. But there’s another dimension; the care work: the thinking ahead, the card- or gift-buying errand, the writing of kind or silly messages (typically signed by the woman, using the names of all the family, right?), keeping up-to-date on addresses, having stamps around, etc. It’s labor, and it’s too often ignored, or discounted–even by me.
I know I’m not saying anything here that hasn’t been said elsewhere, but as I opened that card, after internally rolling my eyes at “okay, V’s card…hmmm, maybe ‘Garfield’ this year?”, I really thought about what it means that my aunt has faithfully noted my birthday with a message of love every April 13 of my 30+ years–what it has meant for her, in terms of labor and planning, compared to what it has meant to me–and I was pretty ashamed of myself.
I talk a lot about feminism–on the web and off–about being conscious about valuing women and their efforts, and still there things I ignore, forget, or dismiss, until something in my life grabs me by the collar and says “look, dummy! Connect the dots!” There’s always another lesson to be learned.
So, thanks, Aunt V. You gave me a great gift yesterday, and I really am grateful.