Women are treated differently

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 7, 2003

I read and see in the news that it is becoming more common for men to stay at home and be the main caretaker for their children. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I do see more men with their children at the grocery store and out and about in public. The kids are usually dressed nice and look well-fed. It is very different from the way I was raised or the way I raised my children. I am skeptical that men and women are considered equal

in the workforce and day-to-day life, because I see and hear stories from

friends that prove otherwise.

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For myself, I have had to fight and argue to be treated fairly. My own mother thought more of her sons than her daughters. I went on several trips with her and she would tell fellow passengers about her six sons and that she gave them all such wonderful names. She would not introduce or acknowledge that I was her daughter or mention my four sisters.

She did introduce me once because I brought her a cup of coffee when she was talking to someone and said, "Oh, this is my daughter, Sheila. All she's ever done is have children. Her oldest is a son and her youngest is a son." She didn't mentioned my four daughters.

My dad never asked me once how I was. When I would visit my parents he always asked me, "How's Tom? What's he doing today."

I really got tired of that and told him one day that Tom had left me and run off with another woman and I was stranded with six kids."

My dad had dementia and he was aghast when I told him that.

"No! No! That can't be true," dad said.

"Yes it is. Now you can't ask me anymore how he is or what he is doing," I


My dad shook his head and then asked me five minutes later,

"What's Tom doing? How is he?"

I knew that even if Tom ever did leave me, my dad would continue to ask me what he was doing the rest of his life because whatever I did was not important. My dad is dead now but my mother lives in Minneapolis and whenever she calls me she asks, "What's Tom doing?"

I don't see much equality of men and women out where I live. One day, just a couple years ago, a neighbor drove up in his large truck and honked the horn.

I stepped out of the house and he said, "Is the boss home?"

"I can be a boss," I answered.

"Well I wanted your husband," my neighbor said. "I want him to vote for me

for the town board."

"Oh," I said.

Suddenly his face lit up and he said, "Hey, you can vote too."

"Yes," I said. "Since 1921."

"Well, you can vote for me for town board," he beamed.

"Not now I won't," I said as I walked away.

He looked bewildered as he drove out of the driveway.

The other day, a man Tom buys hay from called four times asking me when Tom would be coming to buy hay. I kept telling him Tom wasn't around. The final call he was miffed because I didn't know where he was.

"Look," I said. "I'm just his wife and you know that wives never know what their husbands are doing."

I finally got through to him with that line and he laughed and said, "Yeah, he's probably out having fun."

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at :mailto:newsroom@austindailyherald.com