I Coulda Beena Contenda- but She Actually is One


Trinity University (Texas) women's basketball ...
Trinity University (Texas) women’s basketball team, 1915 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My daughter stayed home sick yesterday with a cough and scratchy throat. She is pretty tough as sixth grade girls go, so when she does complain that she’s not well I take it seriously. My husband, upon getting home from work, suggested that Julia get ready for basketball practice that evening. I began to protest, saying that she felt better but questioning his judgment.

They are going over plays for the tournament this weekend. Even if she doesn’t play, she should be there to listen, he said. When I crinkled my nose, his response, though not shocking, got me to really thinking.

“She’s an athlete,” he said. “She’s a competitor, and she wants to be there.”

My daughter is an athlete. It’s official. She is an amazing basketball player, really. Those who have seen my brags, or as my friend Leslie termed them, my ‘shares’ on Face Book already know how good I think she is. Her strength, endurance, and talent amaze me. A gifted athlete. She’s also a gifted singer, actress, leader and writer. Many things that, at one point or another in my life, I thought I’d choose to be. Recently she took one of those occupational IQ tests at school, and got matched with one of two careers – teacher or clinical psychologist. Just like me when I was in Junior High during the Stone Age.

The biggest difference between my daughter and me, aside from our height and hair color, is that instead of just daydreaming, she is doing it. She has so many doors opening to her, even at the young age of 12, that it’s mind-blowing. The times we live in provide young women with so many opportunities. More than they did 35 years ago when I was her age? Yes, surely. And way more than my mother had back in the 40’s.

As I get ready to launch A Girl from the Hill, I can’t help but reflect upon the fact that I’ve been allowed so many more opportunities than my mother Dahlia did in her day. For instance, due to her artistic ability, she received a scholarship at Rhode Island School of Design in 6th grade to study fashion, and after six months of study, had to stop. Her family couldn’t afford to pay once the scholarship was over. When she was 17 and her mother passed away, she dropped out of school because she felt aimless and depressed. Her guidance counselor released her without as much as a question, saying she could come back to school whenever she wanted to. There was no urging, and no argument at home, now that her mother was gone. No one to reach out and take her out of her melancholy, and set her towards a fulfilling career, or at the very least, a decent education. She was in her late 30’s before she learned how to stand up for herself, and she almost lost her sanity doing it.

I didn’t get much more encouragement in high school than my mother did 40 years before me. Despite being accepted at many colleges and universities, including Emerson, where I dreamed about studying journalism and media technology, when I chose to stay close to home to be close to my boyfriend, no one tried to talk me out of it. I’m not complaining, since if I followed that path I wouldn’t have Jeremy, and there would be no Julia. But I cringe when I think of what I gave up – for someone who was not the right person for me in so many ways.

As a senior in college, I finally go to witness how strong women can be in the workplace.

I worked as an intern in the newsroom of a local radio station. Though going on 21, I was so meek, so unsure of myself, that I was afraid to interrupt people when I had a news deadline to make. When I met N, I was dumbstruck by her assertiveness, confidence, common sense and overall intelligence. She was one of two women in the newsroom, and probably five years older than me. The other woman was more or less a floozy, for lack of a better term, who accused me of stealing her little brown book of media contacts. Yes, I looked like the ruthless type with my pleated jeans, oxford shirt and poufy 80’s hair.

I had never seen N’s brand of strength and decisiveness when dealing with men, and trying to get things accomplished in a man’s world. She took me out on the road with her and showed me how she could dig in at the source and create opportunities. And then write about them in an informative, captivating manner. I was left mesmerized and envious at the same time.

So I was 21 before I even could consider the fact that perhaps I too was capable, and that I actually had talents that could take me someplace. And that I had to make the effort, to put myself out there as no one was going to give it to me. My daughter, at 12 is so beyond that. She’s not boastful, or arrogant, and she’s still shy and self-conscious about some things, like singing in public, or drawing too much attention to herself. Unless she’s on the basketball court. But she knows what she’s good at, and can ask for what she wants. And she knows the roles that she does not want to play in life. There are no limits grounding her, because she doesn’t even understand the concept of unequal opportunity.

I still have a few dreams left to chase, but I do find just as much pleasure thinking about all of the opportunities out there for my girl.

4 thoughts on “I Coulda Beena Contenda- but She Actually is One

    1. Thanks Jovina. I believe that as women today we sometimes loose sight of all of the obstacles and walls that stood in the way of women before us. And I love seeing that glass ceiling broken for the next generation.


  1. What a beautiful way to show the changes in the lives of women over the past60-70 years. Hurray for our daughters and granddaughters that things have changed. May women never regress to feeling they are stuck or without creativity to grow into their Soul purpose. Thanks Patty for a great post! Good luck to your daughter’s basketball team this season.


    1. Thanks Laura. Of all the things I dreamed she’d be, an athlete was furthest from my mind. And who knows? She may find a new love tomorrow! So great that she has the opportunities, and that all our girls do, and don’t feel stuck or limited.


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