On Daughters: A Manifesto


Oh, my girls...


Your fate is not to be as a lonely princess, waiting in frozen youth and painted beauty for final, heroic rescue by some physically strong but one-dimensional man.

You are strong and brave.

Since the day you were born.


Don't waste your life stalking around the dark and crumbling ruins of girlhood, swathed in a pile of mouldering lace and dreams.

Dream for yourself.

Keep your heart your own and free.


Oh, my girls...

Don't hide behind the words our society has for brave women: bitch, hussy, tramp, whore, unrefined, headstrong, impetuous, etc. This is always the lazy way out.

And you are not lazy.


Don't let Disney and the culture of cheap romance at any price convince you that you need a man, a certain kind of relationship, cartoonish body parts, or formaldehyde beauty in order to truly experience a life alive and heroic and real.

You were born to do heroic things and great beauty is often hidden inside great effort.

You are to be someone's rescuer, not the rescued.

You are not to wait.


Oh, my girls...

The Christian church in every manifestation will tell you that without a man you must never speak strongly, fiercely or openly about anything in your head or heart. Not without expressed permission and never in certain environments.

But you are never to ask permission for who you were created to be.

You must never allow your voice to be silenced.


Let those who choose the status quo tremble.

Go ahead and let them call you names.


Oh, my girls...

If you are single you will be asked why. If there are no children or no children of your own blood you will be asked why.

If you have friendships that last and last, through love and loss and change and years, you will be asked how this can be.

If you change, dismantle, challenge, question or rebuild anything in this world, you will be asked who the man is (father, husband, brother, boyfriend, leader, boss, mentor) who helped or gave you permission.

You must not care. And you must never settle for this small an inheritance.


Oh, my girls...

I want the same things for you I would want for sons: truthful words, brave hearts, kind hands and eyes, a will to be reckoned with, a mind that is sharp and well-used, a life that seeks to right wrongs and create lasting peace.


If you were my sons I would implore you to overcome the current stereotypes of violence and isolation, of a life spent largely internally alone and for your own sake, your own survival.

But you are my daughters, my little women.

I challenge you to never let your mother souls stagnate within your own house, your own children, your own dreams, your own creations.

I challenge you to never accept the second-best you are offered within our culture's archaic laws of size, shape, role, and silence.


Your Mama is completely confident of this:


You are the ones the world has been waiting for.



Graces, #35


Summer is finally here. It's still cool, most days, but after a long spring that felt more like early March, we are not about to complain. And honestly, I really like 75 degree days that end in cool, wind-washed nights. It's one of the reasons I live in the Pacific Northwest. If I wanted 4 months of sticky nights and blistered mornings I'd move somewhere else. Everyone that complains about our weather should, too. (ahem)

Auntie Sharon has beaten cancer. Almost. There are no words to tell our thankfulness. There have been too many stories and people in our lives the past 9 years that have not received this joyful news. Too many. We are so grateful and so happy and along the way have had some very interesting conversations with Penelope about death and dying. Two things I've learned as a result: when you absolutely believe that the divine presence we refer to as God is completely trustworthy, completely loving and ultimately and fiercely kind (as Penelope does!), you don't fear death or whatever comes next; and that I have yet to resolve my own theology or lack thereof around death and dying. But then, I am still recovering from childhood nightmares featuring in full-effect a terrifying god-figure that was male in the worst possible way and hell-bent (literally) on the destruction of everything that wasn't to his liking or current whim.

For the record, I am completely comfortable with never resolving my thoughts or feelings on this point. For me, it's enough to believe that if we are created in love and told quite pointedly in scripture that love is the whole point, then whatever happens next is love and lovely. This will sound ridiculously foofy to many of you. Love is pretty fierce, though.

Birdie sings. All day long, every song playing loudly or in the background. She sings East of the Sun West of the Moon, Favorite Things, Fly Me to the Moon, songs by The Weepies and Brandi Carlile, silly kids' songs, everything she hears. Her vocabulary is incredible. And Pea's wasn't shabby at this age either, but Birdie floors me. She counts (1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 18), knows all her colors, and can sing songs from PBSkids shows she's seen only one or two times. She also plays harmonica and makes up songs with words. I suspect she is a tad competitive with sister...

Penelope is 44 inches and 44 lbs at only 4 years old. She's as tall as the 6 and 7 year olds everywhere we go and has very 6 and 7 year old emotions. I have decided that I'm not scared of them at all, even though I often don't know what the right thing to do or say is, thanks again to my childhood where emotions of any sort just weren't allowed (dad took up all the emotional air space, let's be honest). I really think that if she and I can figure out how to communicate now, and if I can learn to hear and understand her heart now, then all the years and ages people like to scare me with (12, 13, 17, 21) won't be that terrible at all.

This post, by a dear friend's sister, has brought tears to my eyes today. Even though she is farther ahead in parenting and marriage and all that that means than I, my heart feels the truth in it so deeply. Her words have also been challenging and comforting to Jeffrey and me in the ways we've chosen to parent and live and I am grateful.


Graces, #34

There haven't been very many days like the picture above: blue open skies and sun, playgrounds, days when we could be out of doors all day long if we liked. Which is what we want most to do right now. It has been the darkest, wettest, coldest spring I can remember in years and years. Even for this part of the world. So first and foremost I am grateful for yesterday. There was sun. The flowers that have survived pushed open a little more. There were hours to spend doing nothing but running up and down our street, yelling for the freedom of no longer being shut inside complaining about having to put a sweatshirt on in June. Of course we woke today to rain streaming down our street in cold, grey-brown river. But that brings me to the next grace...

On even the darkest and coldest May and June days there is this light that happens toward evening in the downstairs rooms. It begins slowly, the room within darkening just so and the outside world beginning to softly glow, till you can blink and suddenly it appears that our whole house is floating atop and within a rainforest sea. White-barked birches with leaves like a hundred twinkling earrings and peely-papered eucalyptus, towering black fir and symmetry of maples. All bent and joined around us as the pearly sky, fluorescent jade grass and glistening street shimmer in twinkle of streetlights and houselights, car lights and bicycles. Absolutely breathtaking.

Today we celebrate the 3rd birthday of one of our friends, who happens to also be our neighbor. Adeleine takes great pleasure in getting dressed any time of the day, but especially loves to dress for a party. I can't wait to see what she picks out. Her current favorite look is a pair of Pea's panties worn over the top of a pair of leggings, a bright dress, necklaces, a winter hat, shiny or bright shoes. So different from me, this one.

Adeleine and I got to have a date day yesterday. She is absolutely delightful to be around and everyone who meets her says so. Is that bragging? Keep in mind that this is also the kid who frequently keeps me up all night. Still. So it's nice to have a public record that it hasn't been all bad.

Here we are, about to go have lunch, bunny crackers in hand.

Have lovely weeks, friends.


Fields and thoughts

But also I say this: that light
is an invitation
to happiness
and that happiness

when it's done right
is a kind of holiness,
palpable and redemptive.

(from Poppies, by Mary Oliver)

You know the way a farmer lets a certain field go to sleep for a bit, gives it a rest, so that it can regather nourishment and life? That's what I've been doing. Inadvertently. Over here.

I was feeling pretty undecided, all winter, about continuing this blog. Wondering if I should still be writing publicly about my children now that they, especially Pea, are nearing ages where privacy and identity are more and more theirs to claim and own. I want them to only ever feel extraordinarily good about what I've written in regards to them. I have always used our real names. At the same time, I can only ever tell the truth. I love writing the daily graces (weekly, monthly is more like it) and I love the community of friends near and I far who read (and even, occasionally, comment.) I love being able to go back months later and remember certain feelings I had, certain ideas, certain days. The good, the bad, the difficult, the hilarious.

But I was weary of everything that felt tired and familiar and my heart was exhausted from a year of incredible growth tied to deep challenges. Oh, my heart. It continues to mend and then break and then mend again. This is probably my life's theme.

This field needed to be plowed under and ignored. In a healthy way. It needed to be covered with crows and traveling geese; drowned in late-fall rains and frozen in good, clean snow. It needed to sit in early spring's pale mornings and have no one tearing at it or trying to wrench meaning from it.

Sit. Just sit.

And now it is June. It has been an unusually dark spring outside, and an unusually peaceful one within. All this away time has been put to very good use. Not in projects or obvious accomplishments, but in time to think and time spent away from computers. Time spent reading book after book, both child and adult versions. Time spent with good company, good food, satisfying and challenging conversations. You know, my favorite parts of life.

I have decided to return. To plant again, if I can stretch the metaphor a bit. I will still use Twitter as a record of daily things and as the best way to communicate with me--it doesn't require my full attention and therefore is an easier fit with my current life. But I will be back here from time to time, hopefully weekly, to remember and photograph in a little more detail. I have decided to use another, not public yet, site as a place for deeper thoughts and essay work, anything deeply personal. If things are lighter here, it will only be in the interests of privacy and having my children see their names associated mostly with happiness and only occasionally a very bad day.

A quick 8 month update:

Pea and Birdie are excellent (as you can see). Tall, perceptive, strong. One is an excellent sleeper (still) and one is not (STILL).

We are beginning a family adventure in unschooling. This fits perfectly with Jeffrey's and my philosophy of life-long learning and having our children grow up as free and world-changing (hopefully) thinkers instead of sheep who know how to take tests.

I am continuing to plot and plan my future work in post-partum care.

I never EVER thought I would say this, but I am still loving being home with the girls. There is nowhere else I currently wish to be. Sometimes I am still surprised by this.

You should friend me on Goodreads. Everything I'm reading and everything the girls and I are reading is usually there or will soon be there.

I hope you are well, sleeping better than I am, and eating good food and reading good books. I hope you are thinking and changing and growing and learning and dreaming and fighting for and talking about what you believe in most. I hope we can do more of this together soon.


My sweet girl

Adeleine calls her Daddoo!

Posted using ShareThis

Doesn't she have the sweetest voice?

L.O.V.E her.

More posts coming soon.

Have you figured out by now that I will ALWAYS be a bad blogger? I'm actually ok with it...


Graces, #33

Sunshine. In our part of the world we spend the end of summer soaking up every last drop and ray knowing that once the rain comes it's here for a while.

Birthdays. Celebrating a DNA sister and a sister-by-choice, both in the same week.

Moonlit evening park time with the girls and friends. Watching their Uncle Jordan chase them all around the playground and play soccer with Pea. Turning just in time to see Birdie pushing her stroller at a fast trot. Catching up with her and realizing she was pushing while running on her knees (poor little knees.)

Celebrating another friend's ordination. She is fearless and opinionated and gracious and wise beyond her years, and she works tirelessly and selflessly for everything she believes in. Jessica, the church needs to get over itself and let more women like you lead.

Feeling awe, once again, at the women my girls get to know, love and look up to. Women who tell it like it is and don't leave out anything--joy, pain, heartache, grace. Women who are outspoken about injustice and oppression everywhere they see it. Women who are amazing mothers--to their own children and to each other.

Look at these girls... Am I the luckiest Mama in the world, or what?