What else was there beyond the alley, beyond the neighborhood?
What else was there to be?
I was not taught to ask.
I was not taught to wonder.
I was not taught to dream.
I was taught to soldier on, to be good, and —apparently — not to expect too much
And so, asking, wondering, dreaming, and taking steps to follow my own path came to me late in life. But, hurray! I made it.
I volunteer in a first grade classroom twice a week, and I look with wonder at each little child in my class. They are shining gems, little treasures of possibilities. I don’t know what kinds of homes or families they go home to each day. I can easily imagine the obstacles, hardships and inequities each of them will face as they grow. For each of them my hope is wider expectations, the ability to look, hope and dream beyond whatever smallness may define where they are now.
A few years ago I created “Small Expectations.” I’ll just go ahead and admit that it’s one of my favorite works. I created the image of the two girls in the center, dressed in their go-to-Sunday-School dresses, from a family photo of myself and my sister.
Behind the girls, I have created a background suggesting their diminished expectations. The words from a mid-twentieth century etiquette book fill the fabric behind them. The symbols of birds indicate the innocence of the girls. The alphabet border and ABC blocks give the work a feel of simplicity and elementary school lessons. Yet, these real and implied life instructions were serious business.
For you, little girls… GREAT expectations!
In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. President Jimmy Carter's Message to the nation designated March 2-8, 1980 as National Women's History Week.
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