Natty Cat and Libby was created by two Southern grandmothers. We created it because we had big dreams for our daughters and granddaughters, but we also knew from our own experiences that they might need our “permission” to follow their dreams. Let me explain why.

Growing up in a small Southern town, my parents had two dreams for me — get married and have children – and I guess a third would have been stay married and live happily ever after.

My life didn’t quite turn out like that. After graduating from a Virginia women’s college, I had no prospects to get married so I did the unthinkable – I got a job. It turned out to be a job that I loved. It was interesting. It was fulfilling and it was very rewarding. Who knew such thing would happen? My parents surely didn’t.

Fast forward 10 years and I did get married and I did have a child, but it did not end happily ever after. Thankfully, I still had a job.  Having a job gave me options because as Virginia Woolf once penned “Women need a room of their own and $500 in the bank.”

I also still loved my job and in spite of my failure in the marriage department, I succeeded professionally.     I often joked and said, “On my deathbed I will probably say, ‘I really should have spent more time at the office.’” I just loved working and I went on to have several jobs that were all great adventures in my life.

BUT — and this is a big BUT — as much as I loved my work and felt good about it, I always felt torn. When I was at work, I heard that voice that said I should be home. When I was at home, I felt I should be at work.

You see I am a woman who really loves working. For my generation that was not the norm for women. Society still said we were supposed to stay home and raise the family. It also went against every single dream my parents had for me. On many levels that voice in my head felt as though I had failed them. They never would have given me “permission” to work. It was not their dream for me. So it was a constant struggle with living up to my own expectations and trying to live up to theirs.

Natty Cat and Libby was born because I never wanted my own daughter or my granddaughter to ever be conflicted. I wanted them to know they had choices. They had options. And they could choose any option that fit them… working or not working professionally…anything. They had MY “permission” to be whoever and whatever they chose. My path may not be their path and that is just fine with me. I did not want them to hear that voice of conflict in their heads. They can have it all. It’s just about balance and they will figure that out for themselves without my voice saying otherwise.

My hope is that whatever path they take, they know that they are loved unconditionally. My hope is that they will choose a life that is both fulfilling and adventuresome. My hope is that they never need to ask for “permission” to follow their dreams.   That is my gift to them and to little girls everywhere.

Janet Farrar Byington

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