Act like a lady. Watch yourself young lady. A lady always wears gloves. Be a lady at your aunt’s house. Lady, lady, lady. I heard this as a child until I felt like some very unladylike behavior. To begin with I am not and was not ever a lady. Lady is a term belonging to aristocracy. It’s a class thing indicating having been high born and part of the upper class. In England I would not have been addressed as Lady Nita. I probably would not even have been called maam. Probably more likely just Nita or “hey, you”.
So all this early training to be a lady was a waste of time to begin with since I was born to awesome, brilliant, kind and generous working people. Not a lady in the bunch, but some fantastic women, and men, from whom I learned how to be a real person, not some fake lady creature who always wore gloves and spoke softly.
I learned to be a woman. A lady needs to be waited on, coddled. A woman can do it herself but doesn’t have to do it to prove a point. She just does what is needed. A real, strong, confident woman makes a great friend, wife, mother, co-worker and citizen. She can be a CEO, president, truck driver, teacher, janitor, homemaker, and be okay with her choice. She can make her own living, mother her children, participate in her community and care for her friends all by herself, or she can share all that with a real, confident partner.
I don’t even want to be a lady. Probably couldn’t really try. I do a lot of things that would not be considered ladylike by those well intended souls trying to mold me as a child. I swear, a lot. I pull on a cap and my coat over my pajamas to run to the grocery. I drink hard liquor and sometimes put my elbows on the table. I have been known to ask a man to dance and I don’t hesitate to point out asinine behavior if need be. But don’t be mislead, I am not a slug, just independent. I neither belch or fart in company. I wait my turn and open doors for old people.
Soon I will have a great granddaughter. You won’t hear me telling her to be a lady. In the first place it is for her mother and father to be first in line to instruct her. My hope is that she will see me as a force, a presence worth knowing, maybe even an example. I will do my best to present to her a person who is strong and gentle, smart and caring, fun and loving. And, a woman. A real, whole woman.