In the midst of diapers and runny noses, sometimes I forget that a world outside of mothering exists. I have gone days without reading or watching the news. (Thank goodness Twitter keeps me in the loop.) Some days I don't even try leaving my apartment. It doesn't seem worth the fight to get the kids dressed and the snacks packed to go on a outing.
Those days I forget that I am more than a mother.
I forget about me.
In my idealistic college days, I felt so empowered. I was a Feminist and proud of it. Took women's studies classes. I convinced my college professors to add one token woman to our Great Books reading list each semester: Mary Shelley Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. I directed plays that blasted stereotypes of Asian women and yellowface. My senior thesis studied the archetypes of the bitchy Dragon Lady versus the virginal Lotus Blossom in tv, film, and theatre.
In my small town high school, I questioned my teachers: Why can't we study about the Seneca Falls Convention? How come no one taught us that New Zealand was the first country to give women suffrage, 27 years before US women?? I even tried to convince my class to approve the Equal Rights Amendment as part of our civics project. My history teachers just said that they didn't have time to cover those events.
So what happened to that feminist? She graduated college and got a real job. Instead of a directing internship at a regional theatre, I constructed costumes. Sure it was fun and fueled my creativity, but I didn't feel like I was making a difference. Some days in that freezing basement, I felt like a sweatshop worker. I had adult responsibilities like rent, bills, and car insurance. I felt unfulfilled in my career path. You know the classic "quarter-life" crisis.
My feminism faded in the background as I desperately dog-paddled my way through life, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Then came marriage, children, and the domesticity that came with them. Yes, I desired all those things and don't regret any of those decisions.
I forgot about my passion. I didn't think what I had to say was feminist enough or important in the big scheme of things. I was just a
Then this past week, PunditMom invited me to meet Gloria Feldt and learn about her new book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power. I almost didn't attend because I had one of those mothering days. Thank goodness I went.
On my drive to the restaurant, I thought, I'm not really a feminist anymore. What have I done recently that would make me a feminist? I'm not a political activist. I hadn't attended any rallies. I felt like I let myself down.
Right before we sat down to start a fabulous discussion, as I was in the bathroom, it hit me. I'm still a feminist dammit! I might not be a politician, but I'm empowering women in my own way. I'm empowering women to take charge of their sexual pleasure! I'm empowering mothers in my moms group to realize they are more than just moms! I guess we do our best thinking in the stillness of the bathroom.
That tiny shift in my attitude opened my soul to the amazing discussion that evening. It was intimate event with just a small group of women. I shared a story from my past, one that still makes me cry when I talk about it. Other women shared equally empowering stories. I could have stayed there until the sun rose. I was riveted to these women's stories and ideas. I was with kindred spirits.
As I drove home, many hours later than I had expected, my mind raced. I had to turn off my favorite radio station. Amazing ideas swirled around. I was giddy.
At that moment, I felt like I was more than a mother, more than a wife. Those roles make me who I am but they don't define me. I felt proud of who I was and my journey of how I became the person I am now.
I could be all of those things and still be a feminist! Who's with me?
Come and be inspired by Gloria Feldt and her new book No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think about Power.. She'll discussing her new book at Busboys @ 5th & K. 1025 5th Street NW, DC . Gloria is graciously sending me a review copy of her book, but I would have written this post anyway. on October 13, 2010 from 6:30-8:00pm. I hope to see you there.