A Story

I want to tell you a story.

It is about a girl.

She was Rapunzel in a tower, except it wasn’t Mother Gothel keeping her there, but the weight of her family’s expectations. The goals they had set for her, the standards she was expected to meet.

There were times, when the wild spirit showed through. When she would disappear for a weekend and come home with memorabilia from artists in Austin. When she took off chasing thunderstorms across the Texas plains, and spent the night watching lighting storms in Oklahoma. When she went wandering into a club in Dallas, and learned that whips and chains were used for an entirely different purpose than what she had believed.

She dreamed dreams and made plans, different dreams and different plans than her family wanted. She slipped out from their thumbs to take pictures and pick flowers and watch movies and eat too much candy.

Her heart was broken. Her skin was bruised by a fist. She survived, and she was still wild.

But then, she met a soldier. She fell in love, into a safe, warm love, and suddenly found herself wanting all that she had said she did not.

She got married. They got pregnant.

And she settled down to a life of expectations. New expectations.

Good mothers do not go sky diving. Good mothers do not dye their hair pink, or blue.

A good soldier’s wife wears a dress without wrinkles. Her hair is perfect. She doesn’t have a pink stud in her nose.

Good mothers keep their house spotless, their children in perfect clothes. They put on makeup every day.

She smothered her dreams and hopes and wants in a layer of respectability. She learned to act the part, dress the part, almost be the part. But she was not a hot house orchid, carefully cultured and cultivated. She wilted like a wild flower in winter.

Listening to the opinions of others, she slid into roles she did not want. Said things she did not believe. She forgot the person she was, before, when she was new. She separated the part of her that created; that made blankets, took pictures, played music, from the rest of her. She surrendered to someone else’s idea of what a mother should be.

She locked herself back into a tower, this time of expectations of what she should be now. It was safe in the tower, it was what she knew. But it was stifling. She crumbled.

Her life came back to her in small pieces. Glimpses of the force of nature she had been. She picked up a camera again, dyed her hair pink, learned to play princess songs on her guitar.

And then… one night… in a shower so hot it turned her skin red and made her dizzy, she made a decision. It is better to be the person she is, than a Mother she is not. It is better to let her children run as wild as she did, without the weight of family. She could be the mother that let her children stay up late looking at stars, and still be a good mother.

She could have tattoos. She could have piercings. She could take too many pictures, play guitar too long, she did not have to do dishes before she went to bed. There was no harm in not folding the blankets perfect on the couch before she turned out the lights. It was more important to spend time with her family, than worrying about the cares of others.

To ignore the person she was, who she really was, when all the labels were stripped away, was doing her harm. And in doing herself harm, she was doing her family harm.

How does this story end??

I don’t know. Rapunzel came out of her tower and had a grand adventure with Flynn Rider.

It is time for me to come out of mine.

~Jennifer

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Room for Me??

I have written, and re-written, and re-written this. The previous incantations are all in the trash, sitting there on my desktop, mocking me. Mocking my fear.

I am afraid to write this. I am afraid to post it. I am afraid to even say it out loud.

Here goes…

There isn’t a place in Feminism (the movement, not the people within it) for me. That is remarkably hard to type.

I am a stay at home mother. I spend my days in yoga pants, homeschooling two small children. I rely on my spouse, a man, for income. I go to Starbucks in flip flops. A trip to the grocery store alone is a small vacation.

Feminism is all about Leaning In now. A woman’s place is in the boardroom. And I am not living up to that goal right now. I traded in a job, a career, for late night diaper changes and singing the ABC song during circle time.

And Feminism is leaving me behind.

Often I see posts and comments online deriding stay at home mothers. I see things talking about how boring it must be, and how women who are at home can not be fulfilled with those choices, and we are part of the problem.

But I thought Feminism was about me having a choice. I thought the goal of the movement was to allow women to make their own choices for their lives, from pregnancy to careers, to where to live, to who to bank with, all the choices we get to make. I’m not home because I am forced to be. I am at home by choice.

Let me say that again.

I. Am. At. Home. By. Choice.

I needed a break from the rat race that is working. I needed time to breathe and be in this season of my life. I was tired and emotionally wrung out, and I wanted some peace in my life. I found that, at home. I am happier at home. I like being at home.

I had plans to go back to work. I had plans to put Sprout into kindergarten, and go to work. I stumbled onto homeschooling, and then I had Pudge, and I realized that there is, right now, no other place I would rather be.

Yeah, some days I get bored. Somedays I am so tired of The Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider. BUT.

The good days outnumber the bad. The moments in the sunshine, playing in the grass, the moments in the rain, jumping in puddles, the lazy warmth of afternoon when we put a movie on and snuggle on the couch, those moments all outweigh the bad tenfold.

I thought Feminism was about choices. I thought it was about letting each woman make her own choices for her own life without interference from anyone.

So why then, is the focus on pushing me to work? Why is the focus on putting me back into a career and a job and a life I do not want? Why can’t I be at Feminist and be at home? Why can’t I be a Feminist and homeschool? Why must I Lean In, when all I want to do is Slow Down?

Is there room for me within Feminism?

~Jennifer