Let Men Shine––Anne Mason and Thea Mason

My sister Thea Mason and I discuss the inherent and glorious differences between men and women, and how reverence for each other’s strengths and ways of being allows each one of us to reach our fullest potential––individually and as part of the whole.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Record to the cloud. Hi Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hello, Anne. Good to see you!

Anne:                                         00:06                       And you. So, well, let’s be real here. We’ve had a lot going on in our lives. We both have. And are a bit distracted and there’s just, there’s a lot swirling and swimming, and we weren’t sure what we were gonna talk about here. There’s a lot we could get into. And we chatted some before we started recording and got to our fav, one of our favorite subjects, which is men, right? Which is men. And decided to just start to touch on this. We’ll try to make this one quite a short one and just, just get a taste right now and see where this leads us. But we talked, we talked, first of all about a comment thread that we were having on online where somebody, a friend of ours, was mentioning something about the length of these podcasts. And I made reference to how kind of windy we get in our conversations as women do, versus men who might be a bit more linear in the conversation. And I made some mention about, you know, that’s, that’s what we need men for to kind of, as you put it, bring it to the point. Right?

Anne:                                         01:38                       And, and so we started talking about that, that the, the balance between men and women, the, the fact that women and men need each other to be, and to become, in the way––as my husband had articulated it recently––you can’t, did he say, “You can’t see the moon without the sun.” Right?

Thea:                                         02:15                       Right. Precisely. Well, I’ll take it for a second. If that’s all right? It just sparked just that comment sparked a little bit for me. Being a pretty strong willed, strong and forceful woman myself in the world. You know, there’s, there’s something I think in our culture that I, I hear, you know, I see things, women posting, things about, you know, it’s not about finding your…the right knight or be your own knight or be, which is of course, true. Be your own best self. Become your own most fierce, compassionate, beautiful being you can be.

Thea:                                         03:08                       But I still want to find that most beautiful and compassionate manly mirror to myself. And it doesn’t, that does not negate me becoming my best self, to find and look for that noble man who can stand strong and shine his bright sunshine into my moonshine.

Anne:                                         03:33                       Yes! And to, to add to what you were saying like, okay, right. The spirit, we get the spirit of like, yeah, “Be your own knight.” Right? But what I think it’s meaning is find your own strength, right? To operate from. Don’t use someone else’s strength to fill that which you can develop in yourself. But…

Thea:                                         04:01                       And that goes for men and women both because…no one’s happy that way.

Anne:                                         04:05                       It goes for people, right? Right. Then that’s not balanced. But men and women are inherently different. The Sun is not the Moon.

Thea:                                         04:19                       And the sun is constantly whole and bright. No matter if we see it or not.

Anne:                                         04:27                       And the moon goes through her stages and the moon retreats to her inner world, she shows only parts of herself, right? At times. And then there are times, and as you pointed out there, there is a rhythm there. It is cyclical. She comes around and shows her full self, right? And meets him fully in that way. But the only way she can meet him fully is to be allowed to go inside, and go down her own paths of doing and being, which is not the sun’s way. But at the same time, the sun, like you pointed out, yes, he goes behind the clouds sometimes. Right? But he needs those, you know, he does it in a different way. I mean, it’s, that’s an external retreat rather than internal retreat. He’s still, he’s still there, that bright sun all the time and he can’t be expected to travel, to travel, to traverse those realms with her.

Anne:                                         05:53                       She can’t expect that of him. She can’t expect him to…

Thea:                                         05:58                       Be different than he is?

Anne:                                         06:00                       Yeah! And! She must––in the way he must allow her to do her thing and travel her path, and also to cherish that path that she travels and regard it and honor it––she must do the same for him. While he shines bright and strong no matter what’s going on. That is, that is beautiful. And that is something to revere and give him credit for or whatever. Right? Go ahead.

Thea:                                         06:43                       Well, and it’s something, it’s something that can be counted upon. You know, in saying, you know, we can’t expect the sun to, to act differently than the nature of the sun. And we can’t ask the moon to really behave differently than the nature of the moon. And when we do that, ask that, so being clear as man and woman, when we’re asking man and woman to behave differently than they inherently are given the rhythm of behaving, something becomes really distorted and lost and out of orbit in terms of the way they get to support one another and meet one another and all that they hold between their two spheres. You know, all of this world of reality that functions between the dynamic of man and woman or sun and moon, you know, that becomes distorted if these dynamics are distorted as well. And one of the thoughts I’ve had in thinking of the sun, you know, shining bright––on some days, it’s so piercingly bright and hot that you have to find shade. You need to take cover and adjust how you meet it, how, what, what of the sun can you take in today? You know? And some days you can take all of the sun and bask in it, you know, and bathe in it in all of its glory.

Thea:                                         08:12                       And sometimes you can’t! And sometimes you need to create your own shade blanket because it’s too fierce or it’s, you know not soft enough. And that doesn’t mean that the sun doesn’t know how to go behind the clouds. Sometimes, you know, sometimes to give a little cover from its intensity or its piercing one-pointedness. Sometimes it has to become a little diffused, but that’s not constant. You know, it has to be able to move. I’m getting a little bit sideways, except I think it’s really just how can we as women, how can we honor that space of the sun? How can we honor that space of the man so that, that sun and that man can honor the space of the moon and the woman? That’s where it has to come from.

Anne:                                         09:07                       Absolutely. And we’ll, we’ll probably decide to have a longer, more material conversation about that. But thoughts occurred to me like, you know, w we can’t we can’t expect them to––I mean, there’s the comics, the standup comics make all the jokes about this and everything––but we can’t expect them to be women. We can’t expect to have the same conversations that we have with our women friends. We can’t expect them to read us the way our female friends read us. We can’t expect them to speak our language. We can expect them to try to read it and decipher it best they can. But, you know, and I think of it like, you know, just, you know, the way we, we women process things the way we need to understand the world. I think we, you know, at least my own experience is, as I’ve gotten older, of course I’ve always had my, my great female girlfriends, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to recognize the depth and strength of and sacredness of those relationships separate than my male relationships. Equally significant. Right? but I’ve been able to, as I’ve gotten older, and maybe it’s, it’s kind of as one becomes more whole and is looking less to other people in the world to fulfill something in them. We’re able to regard, I’m sorry, let me just pause this for one moment. Okay. so, I sure think it’s, it’s important to recognize that those relationships are very different. They are just as important, but neither is more important. And they each have their time and place.

Thea:                                         11:34                       Absolutely.

Anne:                                         11:36                       And I had made a joke. Well, I, I’d responded to that comment where I’d said, you know, I think women, women need to get rid of the attitude and get back to gratitude a little bit in terms of the men bashing because the comment, yeah, the comment was “Wow. Women who like men?” Have I even talked about this in our recording? But like talking about “Women, women who like men? Wow. Can you believe that?” And I was saying that, you know, I’m, I’m in all seriousness, I’m a little sick of the men bashing. It’s just, you know, I have a son!

Thea:                                         12:15                       I have three! Yeah.

Anne:                                         12:18                       Exactly. And I don’t want to hear this right? We can hold people accountable without tearing them down. So…

Thea:                                         12:32                       And if we don’t hold people accountable in a respectful way, we’re not going to get anything we want.

Anne:                                         12:40                       And that’s the other thing I pointed out, which is how really just nonsensical and impractical it is. It’s like a relationship between a man and a woman, or really a relationship between anyone. Right? Unless you are planning to leave the relationship, then coming at it with blame and accusation gets us nowhere. The only thing that does get us somewhere is to find more and more effective ways of communicating our needs, our dissatisfactions, whatever it is, but also in a bolstering, supportive way and manner that allows that other person to see that you can see their best selves, so that they can rise to their best selves. And you know, one of the critical components to that is to allow that which they are to be strong and work with that. So.

Thea:                                         13:44                       Because we can’t, because we can’t, I mean in my observations of my life and through friends, if we don’t ask for what we’re looking for or what we need and find ways towards building that, there’s, there’s no one to blame but ourselves. But we can, but we can guide those things. I mean, when you have a relationship that’s growing together, you know, you have to know when you have to put your oar in and you have to redirect something because it’s important.

Thea:                                         14:25                       And if it’s not important, don’t keep going along, building resentment about it quietly until you explode and burn the whole thing to the ground. You know, if we’re not each from each side, man and woman, if you’re not investing in one another towards building a house together, that is one of both liking it, you know, then it’s like then you get angry and that’s what it seems like our culture is so much in, it’s like, how do we build the house together. It’s a, it’s been this building, building, building of quiet anger that’s now coming out with, you know, a fierce, irrational lashing. And burning it all to the ground when the reality is, and I think this hearkens back to our first conversation we recorded, women are the stewards of humankind, of, of humanity. And we are raising these boys to become men. Whose job is it? It’s ours as well as the fathers, but just simply out of biology, the fathers aren’t always around. And so if the woman is the one who’s in charge of that, if my young men grow up and they are not good men, that’s on me.

Anne:                                         15:45                       Absolutely! I, can I, there’s something in this to flesh out later, but something that I’ve said long ago is…

Thea:                                         16:04                       Sorry, I’ll turn my timer off again. So sorry.

Anne:                                         16:06                       Okay. It’s your bread timer. Okay. Hold on. Like the typical woman you are. Let me pause the recording…Okay. So Thea is folding her dough right now while she, while she podcasts here. Someone I, I used to know who is no longer with us, but used to say you can get anything done in this world as long as you don’t take credit for it. Right? And that has stuck with me. And I have said since then that I feel that part of the problem between men and women is this newer need for women to get credit for the work they do. And which maybe is why there’s this pursuit of recognition in the field of men, in the realm of men. Because men are more out here, external, the work they do.

Thea:                                         17:09                       Look at the sun!

Anne:                                         17:11                       Exactly. The work they do is more measurable and quantifiable. Whereas the work we do, again like the moon, the inner work, but the inner work on, on the level of family, of children, of parenting, of being a wife to a husband, to being a woman, a supportive woman to a man and helping him navigate and maneuver in the world. We sometimes do that quietly behind the scenes. We are just as responsible for, for the result of it. Right? But we don’t, I feel it’s important that women remember that we don’t we don’t actually need the, the worldly recognition to that degree ’cause we know it. So anyway that’s so that’s all for another conversation. Let’s try to keep these a little shorter. This is food for thought for everyone. You know, I’d love it if people would chime in and, and bounce these ideas.

Thea:                                         18:13                       Share their thoughts and ideas.

Anne:                                         18:13                       ‘Cause There’s something, there’s something to this. So once again, thanks, Thea. We’ll do this again soon and have fun with the bread.

Thea:                                         18:23                       Thanks very much.

Anne:                                         18:23                       And hang on, let me just, let me end the recording and we’ll talk for a sec. Stop.

Respect Begets Resilience and Empowerment––Anne Mason & Thea Mason

My sister Thea Mason and I discuss material examples of Benign Neglect––both in parenting and in relationships, with others and with oneself––which demonstrate respect and cultivate resilience. Which leads to empowerment.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Okay. Hi, Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi there, Anne. Good to see you.

Anne:                                         00:06                       Good to see you too. So starting this again. So this conversation we’re gonna talk, going to follow on last week’s conversation, which was about Benign Neglect as an approach to parenting, as an approach to all of our relationships, in order to encourage everyone to be resilient, right,? To, to help cultivate resilience, to help us grow our resilience. So, and so we want to talk about some material examples of that, both in parenting and in relationships. And I’m going to let you start with that.

Thea:                                         00:52                       So last conversation we had touched on a very early stage of development physically for a young child, being that they pushed up onto their hands and knees in the pursuit of movement and crawling and independence. And we were discussing a little…

Anne:                                         01:12                       Wait, wait. Can I just interrupt? And, and that most parents know instinctively to not assist that, because it’s so critical in them exercising those muscles in order to be able to do that. Because if we do it for them, they won’t exercise those muscles.

Thea:                                         01:32                       Right. I mean, and you have pictures of that in all of nature, right? I mean, one most everyone is familiar with is the caterpillar pushing, struggling out of the Chrysalis or it a chick hatching out. So if you, if you disturb that process, they are weakened and therefore cannot actually survive. So that’s a little, you know, picture. And as human beings, we have so many more varied and complex stages of these opportunities of the possibility to build resilience or to be hindered and crippled, essentially, for the way we meet the world. And so we were talking about, you know, some, some natural things that occur when children are young. And some of the things we were discussing, and from my experience and I’m sure yours in parenting, you know, as children start to develop freedom and then they want to climb the tree and they want to get to that branch. And sometimes as parents we want to support them and be there to help assist them into those places. And I think through learning we find that if you are to assist past a point where someone is ready to carry themselves, you’re actually putting them in danger because a child will only climb to that which they can climb down from and get down from. Right? because they know they made it up, they can make it down. And if you’ve put someone there without their own striving and faith in their own ability, then there’s a fear lock. Right? And then they cannot quite do it. So that was one other example. I don’t know if you want to speak to that or…

Anne:                                         03:21                       No, I mean I think that’s a perfect example. And, and the word that came to mind was, if we put people somewhere prematurely, right? They, they really have to get there themselves in order to then be able to jump to the next, and the next, and the next, I think.To build the foundation. Right?

Thea:                                         03:43                       Absolutely. And another place that I see that in a really practical way out of the work I do and, and my history with my children is, is a swing. Moving on a swing takes its own impulse and will, or rhythmic movement of pushing and pulling oneself where they want to go. So those were just two very tangible, in terms of the development of the human being in pursuit of freedom and fun.

Anne:                                         04:18                       And, you know, and, and, and another one that just occurred to me I remember when we’d go to the beach together when our kids were younger and I would be like, oh, I forgot the shovel, or I forgot the buckets and shovels. And you said, here are their shovels, right? And I adopted that approach more across the board. Less props, less props, less toys, less things. And out of that, I would see wonderful projects being conceived and dams being built and holes being dug and in, in, in, in wonderful ways. Right? And, and doing that more and more reinforces that with our kids.

Thea:                                         05:06                       And builds, and also builds a space of more ease as a parent. You know, I mean, that’s the other part that it doesn’t have to be so busy or fraught with details. And can be a little bit more pleasant.

Anne:                                         05:25                       Well, and you’re, you’re much more fluid when you are living and approaching everything a bit more simply. You don’t need so much. Right?

Thea:                                         05:34                       Very true. And and I will take that just into another stage of development when it moves from the physical with our children to, you know, as from my experience as my children have gone into adolescence and the different emotional states that are coming up, and the discomfort that comes up. And I had a very clear experience, and I can recall the memory moments very clearly where my, my child was uncomfortable, struggling in some pain emotionally about something that was emerging for himself. And I can very clearly see the tactic he was working to employ was to bait me to create a situation of conflict, a drama in some sort to bait me into that, to engage with him, to give him a channel to release his frustration inappropriately. To release it towards me so he could be distracted from actually stepping through his own work. And I remember seeing it so clearly and instead of taking the bait, which I’m sure I have at times, but in that moment really clearly, distinctly saying, “oh, you’re having a hard time, huh?” So that stopped it.

Anne:                                         07:12                       But, but it’s also, it’s also acknowledging it, right? It’s not ignoring it. So it is being, it’s being supportive, and it is seeing, regarding.

Thea:                                         07:22                       And it gives a window. So, “You’re having a hard time” and he then could have the window to say, “Yeah, I am.” And I could say, “Do you want to talk about it?” So it’s really about learning how to have a healthy relationship with the things that come up, a relationship with oneself to be able to name and identify when something is presenting itself for us to look at.

Anne:                                         07:52                       Yes. When something is troubling us. Um I had mentioned to you previously about something with my, with one of my kids. She, she has a tendency to come into the room when she’s upset. Again, she’s coming to an age where it’s beyond the physical, it’s emotional, it’s settling into this, this world and some of its challenges, right? Of being. ‘Cause They’re not just in this oneness of childhood all the time. Right? And Hmmph!” You know a poutiness, throwing oneself on the couch maybe and turning her head away from me. Right? And sometimes I will actually say nothing. If it goes on, I will do what you had mentioned, which is “What’s going on?” So acknowledging that I see that there’s something going on, but refraining from, “Oh, what’s wrong? Are you upset?” Because I feel that indulging that leads to what I see among peers. And I would say women more than men for one reason or another.

Thea:                                         09:16                       Or at least from your perspective.

Anne:                                         09:17                       Okay. From my perspective, I have noticed, and maybe it’s because I have more female friends. Right? But, but I’ve noticed a tendency for people to feel slighted, hurt, something, by me. And rather than come to me and talk to me about it or express that––to wait for me to figure that out, whether it’s through their behavior or their silence. And I think when I was younger, I might have, I feel like it’s, “taken the bait” on that. These days I’m much less inclined to want to get drawn into that at all. Where I feel I’m, I’m asking you, I’m respecting you enough to let me know if there’s something bothering you. If there is, I will do everything in my power to address it. If you can’t even take the responsibility to, to let me know, then I’m not going to be your parent and draw it out of you. Right?

Thea:                                         10:29                       Right. And there, there are so many layers within that. Yeah. And, and it is, it’s, it’s an interesting thing. We’ve spoken about that, you know, finding that balance of being, being sensitive and compassionate to people in a struggle. And also not, not continuing their stuck dynamic by engaging into that. Right? Because, because that’s what we all have, these ways of being that have worked for us out of some difficult situation in our past, our becoming an adult. And if those ways of functioning that may truly be limiting to how we relate with ourselves and the world, if they have still gotten what we want, we’re not going to change. I mean, and that’s, and I have a very good friend, I remember talking about his struggles with parenting. And I remember saying that, well, if there’s, if your children are still getting what they want through their behavior, they’re not going to change. We’re pretty simple creatures. Right? If we’re still getting our basic comfort met our basic needs met, we’re not going to change. You know, so that ties in with that in terms of that dynamic with friends, you know, if we’re still getting the response we need, we’re still getting that sort of feeding of attention and energy, which I think gets, can get really distorted.

Anne:                                         12:13                       Absolutely. It’s, it, it can become codependent. It can just perpetuate a dysfunctionality. Forever and ever and ever really. And when we had talked about this earlier too, you used the word enabling. We don’t want to enable patterns and ways of being in our children or our friends or our partners or ourselves, which keep us limited. Right? And, and not as empowered. Because how empowering is it to feel free and confident enough to, when something that someone has done that you care to remain in a relationship with, bothers you enough to impact you, to be able to then say, “Hey, you pissed me off. You upset me. You hurt me.”

Thea:                                         13:16                       Or I was really hurt when you did this. You know, that’s that language again.

Anne:                                         13:24                       Totally. I hate that I even said that ’cause I, I’m so, I’m, I’m usually very clear about the fact that largely it’s, it’s our choice to feel hurt or not or you know…

Thea:                                         13:42                       Often it is. And I think something we’ve talked about before, when I have had a, an experience of being hurt by something someone has done, if I address it and speak to them, it is often the case that they just hadn’t even realized it. Right? That it wasn’t a true intention to hurt. It was my feeling of being hurt, you know? So what happens, this going along with that, that picture that we give each other opportunities to grow and expand our, our purview of, of perceiving, if that makes sense. When people give us feedback I have a friend right now who, you know, I’m trying to find my way. They’re in, they’re in a difficult time and I’m trying to find the way to be supportive and compassionate in a way that feels really true and sincere for me. And they have expressed to me, “You know, I felt sort of hurt by this.” So I know that by them giving me that information, and now I get to work with playing with––What’s the right dynamic to be a supportive friend here, because I don’t want to take it on, but I also want to make sure they do know I’m here for them.

Anne:                                         15:12                       Right. Again, you want to help draw them out of patterns that they may be also stuck in as we all get in. Um but at the same time, supportive. It’s a balance. Uh just to hit another couple material examples before we have to end. We talked about one one of mine was oh well, well one was when the kids say “I’m bored,” right? They go through these developmental stages where that is, is a, a running theme, you know. They’ve come to awareness and consciousness that they are not just, again in the oneness as much and able to just move from one thing to another seamlessly. They actually now are having to think about what it is I want to do. I am…

Thea:                                         16:10                       They’re separate a little bit.

Anne:                                         16:12                       Yeah. And so the, we both I think have a similar approach with that, which is “How lucky for you!”

Thea:                                         16:20                       “How fortunate you are to be bored right now.”

Anne:                                         16:23                       “I don’t have the luxury of being bored. So work with that and see what comes of that.” Right? And invariably something wonderful will. Or not.

Thea:                                         16:34                       Or not. You know, I think there’s something that’s really to be said for just a question in those moments rather than a gesture of wanting to, to fix. ‘Cause Of course we want to see our kids happy. Of course we want to see them thriving. But this goes to the being comfortable in the discomfort. But when, when a child says “I’m bored,” you could simply say, “Tell me about it. What’s that like?” I mean age appropriate, let’s say, or “Oh, how so?” And you know, it gives them a moment to bring forth, what’s their mind’s state. And then they realize, “Oh, I’m actually not bored,” or “Telling you about it would be really boring, so I’m outta here.”

Anne:                                         17:22                       More likely. Right? Or, or you know, of course another tactic is, “You’re bored, there’s some clothes to fold over there. The kitchen needs cleaning,” and zoom, they are out the door. Right? Figure out something. But not to keep harping on this one, but, there’s a recent thing that happened. It was a few days ago, I think, you know, my son is a voracious reader and he gets lost in his books and and if he’s on one series or another, it can just be constant. And he had not picked up the book from the library that he had reserved. He had finished the other book and just, he’s all, you know, cranky and, and said something like, “I’m bored,” you know, “There’s nothing to do,” you know, and, and yeah, same tactic,”Oh, well,” you know. And out of that, that day, I remember, came two poems. He, he, he found his journal and he wrote a poem and a haiku. Right? That really stuck with me like, “Good. You have to be bored.”

Thea:                                         18:24                       Yeah. To create. Out of suffering is born creation. Really. Sometimes at least. And was there another point we were going to make?

Anne:                                         18:38                       Well, well if you have another one and I’m looking at a time, we’re trying to keep this nice and short. One was about you know, I’d, I had said to you, I said, “I don’t give handouts.” Right? I don’t mean, I don’t mean when I say that honestly I have given money. I used to give money all the time in the street. I’m not even talking about that. I do that much less. Occasionally I do when I’m struck. Right? But more friends and family members, right? Who I will see a pattern with, of asking for, for money, you know, material support. Repeatedly. Right? It’s something that I am not inclined to do unless there is a very good reason for me to believe that this is actually going to help them on their way, and it’s not going to be a crutch to keep them stuck in their stuckness. And you had made a point you had said, well…

Thea:                                         19:51                       I had said, you know, I find you to be quite generous with your time and your resources in terms of just wanting to put them into good use and movement. And I think what it drew forth in our conversation was there is, you know, there is a time for straight generosity. I mean, just out of the goodness of one’s being to see someone who has no comfort, to give comfort, right? That that is, that’s a reasonable thing. And then when you have people that you’re in relationship with that, that necessitates a different holding of how we share our resources of time, energy, money, whatever you want to say. And I think what we identified was, when there is striving, and an energy of movement and growth within someone who is in a hard place. When that striping is there. I mean, we could talk about that, as they’re already building a momentum around themselves by the effort itself, whatever that is. That is where it is much simpler to give support because it’s taken up, and it is in movement already. A.

Anne:                                         21:07                       And it is utilized. We talked about, I put it as if someone is able to receive the gift productively, I want to give and give and give as much as I can. And am grateful to participate in that person’s…

Thea:                                         21:30                       Development, freedom, liberation.

Anne:                                         21:31                       Absolutely. But I am but, but on the contrary when someone repeatedly is…Sorry I, I don’t want to get too much into it right now, but…

Thea:                                         21:50                       Well, I think what that is, is there’s a difference in when it goes into something and it starts to––I, I can see it in my mind––it moves and then there is something that has a stuckness. So this is a little bit of a distinguishing between the practices of parenting and what we’re trying to do with our children with Benign Neglect. To build resilience means when you are in a stuck place, you have the capacity to take whatever you can get your hands on to help you build that resilience towards something better, you know, to get out of your own suffering. And when you don’t have that faith in yourself, you don’t have that practice of taking a situation that’s difficult, even with the generosity of others, you don’t have your feet to stand on, to step to another level of being in yourself.

Anne:                                         22:54                       Yes. Yes. And that wraps, let’s wrap it up because that ties all the way back to the beginning, which is why it is critical with our children that we allow them to develop that faith in themselves, because if they don’t, every step we take in our lives moves us in one direction or another, each step. Right? And so if they don’t have that faith from the beginning or you know, and of course we can get it and learn it and be challenged with very trying situations. But if it keeps being reinforced that they get rescued out of whatever situation it is and don’t ever develop that muscle and really that faith in themselves, then gosh, at 50 years old, at 60 years old, they still will not be able to use that, those generous gifts from others to really make it on their own because they will never found that faith in themselves.

Thea:                                         23:57                       And I would, you know, make it on their own. Yes. But I would even say, I mean, what are each of us here for? You know, what I hold, anyway, is that for each of us to uncover what it is that we have within our being’s destiny, to bring to the world, to work with in the world and to leave into the world. And if I as a person am robbed of my own struggle to discover what it is I’m here to bring to the world, then it’s a disservice to myself and to humanity, all of life, you know, on that light note. But that’s, that’s how I see it, you know, because yes, we can go forth even when we’re handicapped and we can find the tools and build the muscle with right opportunity. I mean I think each of us has found the same sort of challenges come our way until we find a new way to meet them. And so it does come, there is a wisdom in all of creation to bring it to us.

Anne:                                         25:12                       Yes! We don’t miss our, yeah, the opportunities continue to circle around to us throughout our lives, right? But we need to be able to find that faith in ourselves one way or another and find our path.

Thea:                                         25:33                       Yes. And as parents, you know, if we can hold that task with reverence and sincerity and meaning, like, and real respect for how powerful this work is, you know, to know how important that work is. To go forth into it. So, you know, all of that for all of us in these relationships with our children, with each other to be able to build more freedom for each other through–don’t want to say mindful, but it is mindful–through really holding respect for one another. I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to in a way.

Anne:                                         26:22                       I think you are right, because having true respect for someone–again, we’ve touched on this–does also follow that we have the confidence in them, in their capacity, in their largeness and capacity. So every time we hold back from fixing or lifting them before they’re ready, we are, we are demonstrating a deep respect for our children, for our partners, for our friends.

Thea:                                         26:57                       Yes. Absolutely. Thank you so much.

Anne:                                         27:00                       Thank you. See you next time.

Thea:                                         27:02                       See you later.

Anne:                                         27:03                       Alright. Let me end this.

Becoming Resilient––Anne Mason and Thea Mason

My sister Thea Mason and I discuss the concept of benign neglect in parenting, as well as in all our relationships, to help everyone build the necessary resilience to face life’s challenges.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:02                       Hi Thea!

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi, Anne!

Anne:                                         00:03                       So today we’re going to talk about resilience. And we come to this, I come to this partly because I have been seeing an overemphasis I think on people’s victimization in this culture, in this society, in, throughout our history on too much emphasis in my opinion on victim hood and identifying with our victimhood rather than identifying with our strengths and our empowerment. And we won’t get too into this, but the last conversation we had was…we talked about empowerment. What is empowerment? And you pointed out that this word has been, it’s thrown around a lot and it’s used a lot, but I think we need to get clear about what is empowerment and what is, what is resilience? How do we become resilient? How do we remain resilient to face the challenges that inevitably we face throughout our lives?

Thea:                                         01:31                       And one of the colorings I think that we had spoken about in regards to the dynamic of victimhood is this the functioning of victim mindset to look to the world, to change, to make the victim feel better. To ask for that, which is outside to alter. And one of the dynamics we’ve spoken about is really this is a relationship, right? So you have the individual in its victim state or non victim state relating to the world. And both of them have to be inter interacting and connecting together. Impressing upon one another to, sorry, helicopter to enact change and development as a, as a species, as a culture and so on. And so when the victim hood is getting stuck in this one direction dynamic to the outside world, we’re really not going anywhere good. So that’s one part. And then we were talking about what is it that, what is it that can cultivate resilience and speaking as parents, as mothers, we’re looking at, okay, what is, what does that mean for parenting?

Thea:                                         02:55                       You know, there’s numerous parenting books and styles, everything. Well, what is the, the function of the parent to be able to bring forth, can we pause? Sorry, my timer’s going off. I forgot.

Anne:                                         03:11                       So just to come back after that interruption, you were talking about parenting what kind of parenting? The type of parenting that really helps children become the type of adult that can weather the storm as opposed to being demolished by it and demanding that the world change or stop or alter to accommodate their inability to handle that. Right? So that, that’s my take on it. Right?

Thea:                                         03:54                       Right. And, and within that take, I mean, we did, we talked about there’s a difference between the demanding gesture and the commanding gesture. And within that, I feel like it’s important just to have those moments to distinguish, I think recognizing the difference of just, “Hey, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and you just do it.” And that’s true. And when there are true things that need altering in a culture, that is that, that’s that picture of that pressing. We have to change one another in that relationship to evolve.

Anne:                                         04:31                       Exactly. We, right. And, and in the last conversation, in another conversation that we had had, I said, you know, the extreme version is that idea of throwing a kid into the water before they know how to swim and, “sink or swim.” Right? And that people may have learned to swim that way back back when. Okay. But that’s not ideal either because that’s traumatizing as well.

Thea:                                         04:55                       And then probably they don’t like to swim. Right? So, so and so talking about the distinguishing, what is that characteristic or style of parenting and through many conversations over the years, I had coined it as benign neglect, ah, as a parenting style or as a parenting tool. And so here we get to talk about how that that dynamic can be utilized as a parent with a child. It can also be utilized as a friend to a friend or a partner to a partner in whatever dynamic. And essentially it is when the child or friend or whomever is in a problem, in a struggle of sorts, whatever that is, that, that you as the, or me as the support, the friend, the parent, the guide is clear about where they are with their problem and where I reside with myself. Therefore I’m not getting into their problem with them and taking it over and trying to fix it, but I can be a supportive tool or a guide to help them find their way to their own solution.

Anne:                                         06:24                       Yes. So it’s, because in, in another conversation that we had talked about, you know, it’s, it’s not helicopter parenting, right? It’s also not “Cry it out.” Right?

Thea:                                         06:45                       Right.

Anne:                                         06:45                       It’s, it is allowing the child the space to struggle and prove something to him or herself really is what it is. And you had identified this in another conversation. It’s also letting that child or partner or friend know that you’ve got the utmost faith in them to be able to do it. And so much faith that you don’t have to fix it for them or do it for them or make it easier. And one of the examples we had touched on was in a very basic way that most parents understand, and I think this is, it’s interesting when we were talking about the knowingness, before? I don’t know that any parent, I’ve never seen any parent interfere with the, the, the, the baby who is struggling desperately to get up on their hands and knees to crawl.

Anne:                                         07:55                       We instinctively know somewhere deep inside of us that the only way that baby is going to move forward is if we allow them to do it themselves. No matter how much their crying and frustrated and you can see it in their face, right? We all allow our kids to do that. The key I think is to continue doing that throughout their lives and to do that with anyone else. But it, it doesn’t mean, I mean if you know, if danger is coming and the kid’s right in the midst of learning how to crawl, we’re not going to just let them do that and come to harm, right? So there’s a balance.

Thea:                                         08:40                       There’s a balance and that muscle has to be exercised so that we can tune into what that is, that dynamic of healthy struggle as opposed to endangering pain. So for ourselves as parents to our children and for ourselves as individuals experiencing pain, I mean it’s such a, such a, such a layered web of becoming an identifying reality as such, you know, in terms of what happens in that moment if we, if I as a parent take my child out of that moment of struggle when it was good, healthy struggle, I have robbed them of their own experience of proving something to themselves. I have also robbed myself as the parent of allowing that growth that occurs for our children to become more individual, separate from the parent. If I take take that child up before it’s time. I didn’t quite hit that well, but…

Anne:                                         09:56                       I know, I know what you were getting at just to because the, the parent, it’s an, you know, we’re doing a, we’re dancing with our kids, especially those first 18 or so years. And if we don’t allow them to do that in front of us, then we’re also robbing ourselves of that knowledge that our kids are actually going to be okay.

Thea:                                         10:25                       Right. And I mean, and then you know, that can I kind of lost where I was going, but it kind of, it can get so hijacked for so many reasons. And, and sometimes you’ll see this with parents who, you know, I can’t remember. It’s some syndrome of some sort or some complex that it’s called when a parent needs a child to be sick? So there’s, so that’s like an extreme distorted dynamic of it, to be needed. Yeah. there is, and then as you’re talking about a child learning how to press up into hands and knees I don’t know what’s on the market these days, but I do know that there are things provided for babies to sit up before they’re ready to sit up, there are things provided for babies to stand before they’re ready to stand…

Anne:                                         11:13                       Or to walk. Walkers, right?

Thea:                                         11:14                       Or to walk. So we have these things that are in our broad culture that are, are pushing us away from the intrinsic instinctual and intuitive parenting that we have with our children.

Anne:                                         11:35                       Right? It’s shortchanging everybody. Yeah. Right.

Thea:                                         11:38                       And so again, so what those things are doing and we can map that back to pregnancy, I mean to, you know, it’s like everywhere that it’s, it’s pulling us away from exercising that muscle of instinct and the other side of that, intuition. Those two sides of knowing beyond the factual seeing.

Anne:                                         12:00                       Beyond the parenting book that tells you, “In this situation, allow your child to learn to climb the tree but don’t make the, make sure the tree isn’t so high” or something like that. We have to get past that. We have to instinctively know. And, and that, that comes from the beginning and practicing this from the beginning when the risks are very low.

Anne:                                         12:23                       Right? So when it’s just learning to rollover learning to grasp it’s to allow the child, the, the full capacity and range to go through their struggle and overcome that step by step by step.

Thea:                                         12:42                       Yes. That muscle grows continuously.

Anne:                                         12:47                       You can, and you know, this would be another conversation, but I didn’t even think, you know, fever. Right? Or all of the other things that our body does, right? It’s like, or pain. The pain relievers. Our obsession with pain relief on every level. Our obsession with not allowing people to be depressed for very normal reasons. Like grief. I remember when our folks died, you know, and you know, people offering to prescribe medication to minimize our grief. Right? No! We have to grieve and move through that in order to come out the other side. Anyway.

Thea:                                         13:28                       Well, one more thing I think, I mean it’s, I know it’s so fun and exciting to explore the ideas and see all the avenues where they’re connected. But one of the other parts was in that experience of struggle and frustration and discomfort, you know, as parents, we are, it’s such a huge responsibility in terms of identifying and naming things for our children. So, so rather than that struggle, that hard work that makes their muscles tired rather than that being pain, that’s frustration and strengthening. But if it has been named as pain, I mean, I’m using this, pushing up on my hands and knees, but it can be so many other things. You know, as, I’ve worked with kids who, oh, they have sore muscles and it feels like pain because they don’t yet know how to name that as, “my muscles are sore because I use them in a new way.” So just the importance of that identifying and naming of something. And if we don’t allow that healthy struggle, when we, when that resistance comes at us in a, in an uncomfortable way, a child who has not had the experience of going through that resistance, feeling that resistance and coming out the other end may think, whoa, that’s pain.

Anne:                                         14:57                       Or there’s something wrong here, which relates to something we’ve talked about before, which is what you’d said, being okay with being uncomfortable, being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Thea:                                         15:10                       Yes. Getting comfortable in the discomfort. And that is parents, I mean, that’s like one of our first jobs, getting comfortable with that discomfort of everything that’s going to be coming our way, raising children into the world. And if we can get comfortable there, our kids can get comfortable there and find their own way with it and not uh…

Anne:                                         15:41                       Avoid it. Not avoid it. Right?

Thea:                                         15:43                       Yeah. Yeah.

Anne:                                         15:44                       Um you know, which also reminds me of other things we’ve talked about. A conversation we had had about just, you know, even in a household, I mean, I’ve talked to other friends of mine about this, but you know, my husband and I fight, right? We don’t take it behind closed doors and then come out after it’s all resolved. The kids see us fight, the kids see us resolve it. Right? And I, you know, some might think might say we’re, we’re a little too, you know, just, it’s all, it’s all out here, right? There’s but hold on one sec.

Anne:                                         16:33                       Okay. So anyway, so yeah, just, just, just in, in regards life’s problems, right? Obviously everything has to be developmentally appropriate. I’m not going to introduce my kids to worldly problems that are not impacting them right now, that they’re not ready, I feel to handle yet, but bit by bit, I think that we can, you know, we need to find a flow in which we’re not contriving the world. You know, the, the, there is a struggle. The human experience is, is, and can be a struggle. It’s, there is beauty in the struggle, right? And, and we overcome. And we triumph. And so, so how do, how do we, how do we guide our children to learn that and know that in themselves?

Thea:                                         17:34                       Well one of the things you had said in our conversation another time was really the task of the parent is to allow for the safe creation of a practice world for the child. And I would tie that even into our, our last conversation we shared about games. That’s what games do, right? There our practice world for meeting challenges and all these different dynamics, social dynamics and such. And as parents, if we can allow for that practice world, the struggle can happen. The conflicts can happen. And when there’s need for intervention, we’re there. But the need is so much, so much less frequent than we think.

Anne:                                         18:24                       And let me interrupt something cause it, it makes me realize something that’s worth saying. I think the reason that we have gone this whole other direction is because our generation, maybe even the generation before came from more authoritarian, an extremeness the other way, that we’ve been trying to, we’re reacting to that. And people may be, perhaps are going overboard in, in sparing children, any pain, any pain, any struggle, right?

Anne:                                         19:02                       Which also goes into this whole idea of giving your kids boundaries and guidelines too, right?

Thea:                                         19:11                       Yes. It’s not a free for all!

Anne:                                         19:13                       Exactly. We both live in areas where a lot of people read a lot of books about parenting. And I think there’s sometimes a tendency to, in order to allow the child to freely express themselves they’re not giving the child enough enough boundary to push against.

Thea:                                         19:40                       Right. And so what that also sparks for me in that is, you know, really when I was thinking about this benign neglect, it was sort of like how to raise the child that you’ll like as an adult. That you’ll like to be around as an adult.

Anne:                                         19:57                       Okay. We’re back.

Thea:                                         19:58                       So I believe I was talking about this idea of how do you raise a kid you’re going to like as an adult and ideally, hey, that you mostly like when they’re a kid as well. There’s going to be periods where you don’t, you know. That’s, that’s appropriate. And we were talking a little bit earlier about how allowing for or giving the space of a benign neglect practice of parenting allows for a young person or anyone to develop their own relationship with, with what is good and true to build a muscle with those activities and ways of relating to the world. And if those ways are practiced and that relationship with what is good and true and beautiful is strengthened, then they’re able to come into the world and touch in with those qualities and know when they’re in line with those qualities and when they’re not.

Anne:                                         20:59                       Without someone else telling them.

Thea:                                         21:04                       Right. So that goes to this idea of approval, external approvals or not. So you also made a comment about Orson Scott Card saying that, an author, saying you’re not really truly an adult until…

Anne:                                         21:18                       Until you stop worrying about what other people think of you. And I, and I qualified this when we talked about it before that of course it makes sense to regard and check in with those you love and respect, or those you respect really, because we all need to be checked sometimes. And we all need the feedback from the outside world to really, to have some perspective on ourselves, some objective perspective. But, you know, and this is a conversation for another time, but I think even our educational system is geared toward training people from very early ages to seek approval, to seek authoritarian approval, really authority’s approval or seek someone’s approval uh in order to move forward. And I think the key is to raise people who have a, the word you’ve used is compass, who, who have a compass, a keen compass. That over time allows them to sense when they are behaving badly, basically.

Anne:                                         22:40                       Right? Or going down the wrong path. Because it’s not about behaving badly. It’s also about behaving purposefully. There are some great figures in history, many who have gone forward because they, their compass told them and directed them so, and much of the world thought they were crazy, but they ended up being the movers.

Thea:                                         23:10                       Well, and, and I feel like, I just want to fill that in a little bit because I think developmentally, you know, there is an appropriate time to look to your teacher, your guide, your parents for approval. That is a healthy, appropriate thing. But the task is then for that dynamic to evolve. So when that teacher, parent you know, is doing a good job, they get to where they don’t, that the student isn’t looking for the approval anymore because the approval is in the doing or the, the act itself. And so that’s just, that’s a dynamic of teaching that gets distorted, as well.

Anne:                                         23:55                       Right, right. And parenting, teaching and parenting, right? Because if, if the teacher or the parent is not mindful enough of their own stuff to, to do their best to regard that other being that other person as a separate.

Thea:                                         24:17                       Free being.

Anne:                                         24:19                       Yeah. As a separate free being, having their own growth, their own challenges, their own struggles that don’t reflect on us. One way or the other, right? If they can do that, they’ll go a long way toward healthily giving their approval or disapproval when the child needs it.

Thea:                                         24:43                       Yeah. Right. And knowing when those moments are which is so key and that really, so…Two things out of that, if I can keep it. One was, you know, touching on traumas before I go into that. The other part I wanted to accent is, so in terms of that, that trauma that, that we can get caught up in, which doesn’t allow that person to go through their own struggle of their own that isn’t ours.

Anne:                                         25:15                       Let, let, let me clarify that…what we had talked about in another conversation was that it is often our own traumas as parents that influence us to not want to let the child struggle through their necessary struggle. Right? We want to spare them the traumas that we had, which is why it’s so important to become conscious of our traumas, identify them and work through them in whatever healthy way we can. Not get stuck in them and project them onto our children as well. So we had talked about that which…Traumas probably needs to be its own conversation, and I’ve seen our time. We’re pretty long.

Thea:                                         26:09                       So really it’s, it’s the notion if we’re just to pull these things together, the notion, oh I got it. Really the work is individually as parents, individually as a a partner or friend, is that work of clarifying our own ah, work, our own habits that either take us into good things or bad things or, and good healthy relationship practices.

Thea:                                         26:37                       And the more we do that individually, the more that simply translates into how we are going allow another human being to develop freely. If we are working on freeing ourselves from whatever is externally pressing in upon us in terms of teachers’ approval judgments…

Anne:                                         27:01                       Pain. Headaches, body aches emotional aches. If we can face those, step by step every day and move through them and prove to ourselves that we’re all okay, we’re all going to be okay. Just keep moving forward. Right? We are powerful beings. We can handle a lot. If we can do that, and be mindful of it for ourselves, that helps us to be more mindful of it for our children. It helps us to be more mindful of it for our friends, for our partners and for all the members of society around us, right? To be compassionate. And respectful. But to have such faith in each other, that, that we are capable of overcoming. And become resilient, right?

Thea:                                         28:00                       Absolultely. Becoming resilient. Yes.

Anne:                                         28:05                       And so maybe, maybe in another one we may flesh out more material examples of that, you know, with, you know, beyond the, the crawling.

Thea:                                         28:13                       Right. Taking it into stages of development, even relationship dynamics or struggles that can come up. That would be really good fun.

Anne:                                         28:27                       Yes. Good work for all of us.

Thea:                                         28:29                       Good work for everybody. All right. Thank you Anne.

Anne:                                         28:32                       Thank you, Thee. All right. See you next time. Bye.

The State of Things as We See It––Societal Fabric, Feminism, A New Direction––Anne Mason and Thea Mason

Following on an article I wrote a while back called Feminism Got it Wrong, my sister Thea Mason and I examine and discuss the roles of women and men, parenting, children, Feminism’s impact on the fabric of society––and family camping and playing games as prescriptions for necessary healing.

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:00                       Alright. So,.

Thea:                                         00:00                       “Hey!”.

Anne:                                         00:01                       Thea and I, my sister Thea and I, Anne, are going to start an experiment and start recording our conversations that we would otherwise have anyway. We find that we have been seeking some understanding as we examine what’s going on in the culture. Thea is a teacher in the Waldorf school in, in, in the Wa, in the private Waldorf schools. And I’m a homeschooling. Uh. Waldorf inspired homeschooling mother. Uh, we both had different experiences in our lives, which have led us to this point and we come at things differently, but find a lot of common, uh, perceptions about, I think the problem…

Thea:                                         01:06                       State of things that we see.

Anne:                                         01:08                       Yeah. The state of things.

Thea:                                         01:10                       Fellow women in families… In what we observe in our little windows into the culture in the world.

Anne:                                         01:17                       Yeah. And into…and the children. Right. Who are coming up to, you know, take over. Right?

Thea:                                         01:26                       And very challenging times that they’re coming into.

Anne:                                         01:29                       Yeah! And the challenging times, uh, includes, uh, w w well, the, the, my own issues, my own lament is, is seeing children all around me…

Thea:                                         01:44                       Suffering?

Anne:                                         01:46                       Suffering, and, and, and parents flailing.

Thea:                                         01:50                       Parents are suffering, too.

Anne:                                         01:53                       And, and parents…Thea…Let’s establish this right now. I think Thea is more compassionate in the lens she brings to this and I, I am not, probably just as a person in general.

Thea:                                         02:06                       Well you’re the eldest and I’m the third of four daughters. So there are different roles. We’ve played our whole lives that we continue to work with. I would say.

Anne:                                         02:14                       Exactly. Exactly. So it’s nice that we have each other to balance it out.

Thea:                                         02:19                       It sure is.

Anne:                                         02:19                       And, and so, you know, just just to, to bring it down to kind of more practical, material, uh, language. You know, children are medicated, uh, to high heaven. Parents are medicated. Children are addicted to video games. Social media. Children are diagnosed with every disorder under the sun.

Thea:                                         02:47                       And diseases.

Anne:                                         02:49                       And diseases. And women and men, mothers and fathers seem to be at a loss. I see… I live in..I live in a pretty wealthy county as, as do you in, in California. And I see people spending a load of money and giving that money to experts to help them figure out what’s going on with their kid and to help them get their kids back on track.

Thea:                                         03:26                       I would say also in here, just in terms of that picture of parents struggling…suffering…there is a sense that they are disempowered to be the masters of their family, to be the shepherds of their children. And um, I think one of the things that we synthesized out of our last discussion that we shared––which we wanted to share but was so vast and varied that we’re working to bring it a little bit more to the point––is, you know, we hear a lot of this notion through the feminist movement and really through, I would say all movements of people right now, is this idea of being empowered. Empowered to choose your life, to choose your path, for your children to choose their path. And…I don’t know if I’m jumping the gun here, but this idea of: what does that mean? What does it mean to be empowered? Because what you’re laying out is this picture of a lot of people who are not empowered, a lot of people who are at the whim of the current science, at the whim of the current trends and disorders. And how do you function with your children or yourself when you’re not really in charge? I don’t know.

Anne:                                         04:52                       Absolutely. And to kind of circle back to even how we got to this. You know, I wrote an article a couple of years ago or whatever, or a year ago, whatever, where I said feminism got it wrong. Because I had begun becoming very disenchanted with, uh, with, with this movement that is…It was around the time of the, the pussy hats and the march and, and I felt like it was misguided. I felt that it was, uh, yeah, I felt it was misguided. And, and I started, you know, thinking a lot about, and, uh, reading a lot about…reflecting on my own experience in, in college, in, in taking women’s studies courses, learning about feminism and, you know, reflecting on the fact that I, I think that it’s, there’s an overemphasis on women outside the home, women as individuals where I, as I had identified in that article, I had identified that, you know, first and foremost, I think women’s role is to be mothers. I mean, otherwise humanity doesn’t keep going. Right? That’s, that’s our main, that’s the main thing. It doesn’t mean that needs to be a mother. Right? And not everyone will be. And we all bring in a different aspect of mothering, uh, and, and the female to mothering society, whether or not we are actually giving birth to children. But by and large, that is our role. And, and, and I to had also, uh, articulated that I believe women, women are the stewards of humanity. Since we are the mothers and we are the primary guides, uh––not to take away from the critical and equal significance of the father––but we are the nurturers. We bring in, uh, or, or rather, let’s just say together we bring in the life, we bring in the children and, but, but we deliver them into the world. And from the early, their early ages, we prepare them, we care for them. We, we transition them into the earth, into this earthly realm.

Thea:                                         07:51                       Earthly existence…and what do we do here with them, and how do they become? And how do they harness the power to meet the tasks? Of life. Right?

Anne:                                         08:02                       Yes.

Thea:                                         08:04                       Something you said, what did it just trigger? Darn it. Women…

Anne:                                         08:14                       Well, well, I, had also said, you know, pointed out that, you know, of, of equal incredible, monumental significance is the role of the father.

Thea:                                         08:26                       Right.

Anne:                                         08:27                       And we as mothers have experienced, uh, what becomes obvious to parents, which is that the early years that the child requires that nurture. As the child gets older, it requires much more of the father’s kind of, you know,.

Thea:                                         08:47                       role. And dynamic.

Anne:                                         08:48                       You know, the father brings the worldly in, right? And brings the worldly regard for that child as the child starts to be…to separate from the mother and to find his own, his or her own individuality. So, all right. So I’ll, I’ll stop there and return to what you were talking about, which is…

Thea:                                         09:11                       So let me, let me interrupt real quick. So in talking about, you did mention what you had written a few years ago about feminism got It wrong. And I think one of the main points that you had made in that well-written article was that there’s been a devaluing of the work of the mother and that, that I think is where, if I’m not incorrect, that’s like the point, the main point of how feminism got it wrong. Because that, and I’ve spoken about this with you in terms of me as a mother and the provider, it’s like how did that, what did I gain? What did I gain by being able to do all of that, you know, and, and having to spread myself so thin because I would love to be the homemaker, the mother, to work in the domain… I like that work. And I know not everyone does. So it’s, so that’s in terms of what did feminism get wrong? What did we really gain? You know, that now we’re expected to, even in two parent homes, you’ve got fathers and mothers both working outside the home. And you know, anyone that knows about cooking real food, that’s like a full time job just to maintain feeding a family. I mean, that takes thinking, planning, prepping. So it’s like we’ve been robbed of all these faces to process and nurture because of time, right? So, so then, so then through that devaluing of motherhood and fatherhood essentially, I mean, they’re both, you know, they both are. And now they’re really mixed up and there’s a lack of clarity and, uh, help me out here because from that, that devaluing, we are less empowered to be who we are and to do the work we’re here to do. Is what I’ve been sitting with and thinking about.

Anne:                                         11:21                       Yes, yes, yes. Uh, so in a way it’s like, so if the feminist movement, originally was born out of an impulse to shine light on the the value of the woman to society, what, what seems to have happened instead is it has discarded a critical core spirit of what a woman is and what a woman can bring to the world

Thea:                                         12:08                       And what a woman does differently than a man, and what a man does differently than a woman. And feminism has been all about, “women can do what men do.” I personally don’t care to do that. Right? Like there are moments that women take the lead or are in charge. And both of us are pretty strong willed, fiery women, but I don’t see the world in the way a man does. I don’t look at things in the same way. So why are women trying to function like men?

Anne:                                         12:40                       Right. Right. Um, I mean, I, I think I, I articulated this in the article too, but just you know, I, uh, that occurred to me a long, long time ago that this, this, you know, this striving to, uh, compete in a man’s world just by its very nature implies that the woman’s world is…

Thea:                                         13:10                       Isn’t valuable.

Anne:                                         13:10                       Less important. Right So that first part is what I feel got got screwed up. Um, I also, I had mentioned this before, but I had seen Ann Coulter’s, an interview with Ann Coulter where she, she said something that kind of startled me into an awareness that the suffragette movement may not have even gotten it right.

Thea:                                         13:41                       Right.

Anne:                                         13:42                       Again, I understand. Because, because possibilities for women, were limited for one reason or another. I don’t know. I don’t know why that happened. Um, because let’s, let’s, let’s be real here. I mean, women have sex, right? I mean, and men want to have sex, right? So I don’t understand. You know, there is a power in that. And speaking of…pause for one second, hold on. Yeah, exactly right. Well, all right, I guess I may not even go there.

Thea:                                         14:33                       Right. That’s okay.

Anne:                                         14:34                       But basically, you know, women and men need each other, right? Men have certain needs and women have certain needs, and there is an arrangement there. Marriage is the arrangement that is made. Women give men what they need, which is sex, um, nurturing love. Uh, they can, they can keep the home, they can, uh, advise and,.

Thea:                                         15:00                       You’re frozen.

Anne:                                         15:00                       Okay, so are you, we’ll wait until it’s not. You there? Oh, it says Theodora Mason, by the way.

Thea:                                         15:15                       It does. It was frozen for a minute.

Anne:                                         15:06                       I know. I stopped. I just stopped. So you were too. Okay. So, yes. So I don’t understand how it went wrong. I don’t understand how men, uh, abused their…

Thea:                                         15:12                       Their role.

Anne:                                         15:14                      Yeah. And so because they did, women had to do something, uh, to right it. And it doesn’t feel as if it has gotten righted because it feels as if they’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Thea:                                         15:37                       I would agree. And it seems, though, what we did also touch in on a little bit is that there is sometimes when, when there’s an impulse, it’s needed. To stretch the fabric, a little bit, of how we function and, and are in the world. And without the stretching and walking out the door and looking around at the world, the view stays so small if it’s locked in. So in terms of how… It’s like it had an impulse and it’s now gone astray. It’s sort of lost, its, uh, its place of being. And, and now it’s about how can it take what it’s learned through this journey and bring more intelligence and true empowerment to the roles in which women inhabit, whatever those are––you know, main ones being mothering, motherhood, family and caring for our young. Because we can see in our country at least there is a deep issue and imbalance in the way young people are growing up. So how do we take that learning and what do we do with that?

Anne:                                         16:53                       Well, let’s, can we, can we, uh, touch on briefly––what is the learning, what is the learning been? What have we gained through this experiment of feminism and what have we gained from, uh, giving women, uh, ample opportunity to step outside their traditional roles in the home and get out into the world, the workforce and the world, politics, government. All that. What have they, what have they gained? You know, I might, I’ll, um, echo what I have talked to other women about in the past. Um, we as, as homeschoolers, we have, you know, we have a homeschool community and there are some very young women in this community as well. There’s also a lot of us older ones who are, I’m almost 49 years old. Right. I guess I understand what happens often, these days is that women wait. They go get educated, they go have a career of some sort and then when the, the clock starts ticking, they have children. That’s what I did. So a lot of us are older and we have had the experience in the world in various professions. Some of these younger women are being brought up. Uh, I, I’m thinking of one in particular, uh, who went to law school to be a lawyer. Um, but she and her husband started, uh, while she was in law school––they were both in law school––to have children. And I see her trying to do it all. She’s not working as a lawyer, but she’s, she’s using her degree in a number of very valuable ways in the world. But I also see that it’s a lot, right? And I say to her and I say to many, and I think I’ve said even to you like, you know what? The most valuable, the most by far the most rewarding work I have ever done is parenting, is homeschooling my kids. Is getting even back back in touch with I think something that maybe we never even had. Us growing up with the two working parent family, um, having order in my home, my home is not chaotic and filthy––sometimes it gets messy––like you said, cooking, uh, uh, doing hand work, ah, having a rhythm of a, a not a hectic pace. All of these things have been, have felt so healthy. And parenting and homeschooling is beyond language in terms of how fulfilling that is. Right? So, I bring this up to suggest that the one, the main thing I think I’ve learned is that I am so grateful for this opportunity to be a mother, to bring these children into the world, to be a part of their experience and to understand my own experience simply by witnessing their unfolding. And beyond and beyond and beyond. Right? But at the same time, maybe because of my experience and my career before that perhaps I have that confidence, to, uh, uh, to inhabit whatever realm I find myself in. I think. Perhaps I have the experience––I mean, as you know, I’ve, I got involved in, uh, a lot in, in Sacramento and basically fighting a lot of legislation. Year after year. Perhaps my experience, my career, has, uh, assisted me in doing that ’cause I’m going there and advocating on behalf of our, of the families and the children. Right? So! I mean, how about you and, and let’s talk about how you’ve done it differently.

Thea:                                         21:34                       Yeah, right. I came at it, at the opposite angle. Um, I think uh, I mean, help me articulate it. I, you know, I, I came into adulthood becoming a parent. So I’ve been a parent for almost 20 years, you know, basically 20 years now. Um, and, and so that’s informed every part of me becoming a real adult. Um, and I, and I didn’t do a career. I didn’t go through the same cycle in that way. So I’ve found my voice in a different way though, in our reflection and sharing too. It’s like my voice was always there, uh, in a sense. And I always sort of, had a gut instinct that I’ve listened to, certainly regarding my children. Um, and, and so, you know, I know I’m not…

Anne:                                         22:12                       No, no, let me jump in. Let me, because for anybody listening to this, it’s like, so Thea had her first child at 23. Right? You were 23, weren’t you? And I actually, I’m six years older than Thea, but I, I used…You were my model actually, thank God. Right? And, and it took, you know, I was, uh, not going as much with my instincts, I think in general as you did, you knew inherently to do. I kind of, I wonder if it’s because it got educated out of me, it or it got, you know, even through or through the experience of just being out there in the, in the world and having to play that game. Right.

Thea:                                         23:25                       Totally.

Anne:                                         23:26                       So I would suggest, and we’ve talked about this before, but like you just articulated, I mean, I don’t really think you grow up. I mean, you can grow up without having children, but it is a, um, baptism by fire into the world of adulthood. Right? At least if you’re doing it, even semi-consciously. So you have always been an adult. I don’t think I really was an adult, uh, until I went through the first few years of the trials and challenges and decisions and responsibility of parenting. Right? So, you know.

Thea:                                         24:12                       Well, it’s curious that what it sparks in me, just even that reflection on your becoming a mother. My becoming a mother makes me think of our mother and our parents. Both. I would’ve called them feminists, you know, growing up. And I would say our mother was a different person in a large degree when she had me and brought me into the world than she was when she had you. She was much more empowered into herself, to a large degree. Through, you know, to, to, to in many regards. Um, and was beginning to trust her instinct a bit more. And I don’t know what those early years were like for our parents, you know, thinking people, but still very mainstream American people in a lot of regards in terms of family life. And, and um, through their trials and uh, struggles. They became something more unique in that time through dealing with our sister who was ill. So, so just in that, what that brings me to is just that when we’re talking about the role of the mother, it’s who you are, that that sets up your children for whatever their cycle, their ways of being, their ways of interacting and understanding themselves in the world. Um, and that’s a huge responsibility for parents, for women, for men. And we’re specifically speaking about women ’cause that’s what we are, you know. Um, so it’s kind of like, “Have courage, Women, for, for listening to your own self and discovering what that is and what that’s speaking because who knows better for our children than the parents, than the mothers? Than the people that have shepherded them into the world?” And when we look at the issues that we’re facing, I keep coming to our word “empowered” for today. It’s like, if each person truly were empowered to listen to themselves and to listen to their child and to listen to the rhythm of their life, that’s where change can happen.

Anne:                                         26:33                       Yes, I’d agree. And what I keep having going through my head is…and I just realized, you mainly, your first many, many years of parenting chose work that you could, that worked around your children.

Thea:                                         26:54                       Yes. Well that was the thing I knew and though my child’s father and I don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, we didn’t want to um, out…farm out at my kids. I, it made, you know, we were, we were not wealthy and it never really made sense to put my child in childcare. Who’s going to care for my child better than me? I mean, and that was just like a basic.

Anne:                                         27:18                       And that I feel like that’s, that’s somewhat at the crux of this whole thing here too. I mean that is a basic! No one is going to care for your child like you. Right? So..

Thea:                                         27:33                       Especially let’s, I want to be specific about my own thinking there too. Especially the infant. You know, if I had grandma, grandpa, Auntie, uncle, I didn’t have that as a, as a young mother at all. I built community of people. I could depend on what I needed, but in those early, very, very early years, I can’t imagine. I can’t, I mean, and, and I, we made sacrifices that I didn’t consider really sacrifices to not put my kid in some system like that. Um, but as they get older, I mean, there’s that picture of the village, you know, it takes a village because you being an Auntie and, and good friends that are aunties and uncles to my kids, my kids need more than just me as an archetype. And just their father as an archetype, they need other people so they can round themselves out, you know, I think, and so however we build that community, and that’s sort of what I think that’s the natural impulse of what school would be. But our schools don’t work like that. Right. They don’t become part of the village. That’s its separate entity for the most part. Waldorf schools, a small Waldorf school does. It does take on this sense of a village. Um, yeah. It can ideally, um, depending on how it’s held. So I know I’m…

Anne:                                         28:57                       No, it’s good! No, it’s all ’cause, this is important to…It’s all very important to recognize and, okay. So let’s recap. We see that there are some systemic problems. Uh, in the fabric of our society. School shootings have become a regular thing.

Thea:                                         29:29                       Medication, mental health medication for young children, teenagers, adults. That’s the norm.

Anne:                                         29:41                       Yes. That, that alone is a problem. Right? Um, so, so we need to fix it. I don’t think that this third, third wave feminism, I do not think that it’s, it’s serving us. What I see is, uh, is us moving away from the problems and the wholeness and the unity and becoming more and more segmented and shrill and divided and hateful. And we, we have and, and we, we can, we can flesh this out in another conversation, but we’ve, you identified the fact that, you know, for the woman to aspire to the archetype of woman, in, in, the archetypes full glory, she needs the man to be aspiring to the archetype of the man in his full glory. And feminism has been trying to do something in isolation, for some time and now almost in a combatant manner.

Thea:                                         31:05                       Very much.

Anne:                                         31:05                       Right. I find this Me Too movement, um, whacked.

Thea:                                         31:11                       Whacked.

Anne:                                         31:13                       It does not in any way suggest that, um, that, you know, abuse of one’s role or abuse of power is in any way, something I would condone. But I, I think that we are…movements like Me Too. And, and now…I frankly think the pussy hat march and this, what I find a kooky railing against president Trump, by virtue of him being a white man, it’s, it’s, it’s just driving us further away from what our strengths are, and our roles are. And it is…

Thea:                                         32:03                       And what is…would bring health and happiness. And that’s, that there is a togetherness that breeds happiness and health.

Anne:                                         32:14                       And we’re not victims. We are participants.

Thea:                                         32:18                       So here’s where I want to go from the Me Too. When this whole thing, which you know, you’ve already qualified. It’s, “I AM” and “WE ARE” instead of Me Too to that.

Anne:                                         32:32                       Yes. I want to, I want to just put some clarity on it for anybody listening ’cause no one else has been involved in our conversations. But Thea came up with this brilliant idea to, you know, when we were seeing what was happening with this Me Too movement and the witch hunting that it started to become, and also in fact, you know, I won’t, I won’t go into it too deeply, but to a start, uh, accusing men, uh, of…Instead of dealing with what I think were substantial situations in cases of men in power abusing their power and really disrespecting themselves and women, I think it started turning into, uh, it, um, it diminished the severity of the real situations where, and now men are afraid to even have interviews. Interview a woman alone in an office, always has to have a witness so that she doesn’t…

Thea:                                         33:45                       Accuse him of sexual harassment or something else. I mean, I know so many good men who have, who have been a victim of this.

Anne:                                         33:52                       Yes, me too.

Thea:                                         33:52                       And it’s, you know, it devalues the moments where it really is a truly abhorrent situation. Because learning, I mean, part of what I think we also discussed in that is like, learning how to navigate in the world as a woman, as a man is learning how to uh, deal with unwanted, uh, advances. I mean, that’s part of learning how to be in the world.

Anne:                                         34:24                       That is absolutely part of learning how to be a woman. And to put, put even a kind of a broader language on it. It is the responsibility, equal responsibility of the woman, and the man to, uh, to keep the balance of power between them.

Thea:                                         34:43                       Absolutely. Absolutely.

Anne:                                         34:45                       And we’ve never had, uh, more, more physical strength than men. Right? But throughout times in history, women have managed somehow to exert their authority in this dynamic, very successfully. So we need to help women come back to that, both with their men. And then also with their children.

Thea:                                         35:03                       Absolutely.

Anne:                                         35:25                       And stop acting like children and victims. Right?

Thea:                                         35:28                       Victims. Yeah. Because we are then, you know, if a woman is only going to carry that victim role, which it’s like, I want to qualify once more. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where a woman is not a victim or a man is not a victim, you know, there are real moments where it is atrocious. And that is not, that is not what it is to be human, to have the, the beautiful transformative power of sex be distorted in such a way that it becomes harmful. That’s not being, that’s not humanity. That’s not true humanity. Right?

Anne:                                         35:53                       Exactly. Because that, that beautiful union between a man and a woman should be empowering and glorious, not debasing and degrading right. That’s accepted as a given. Right?

Thea:                                         35:06                       And when that goes wrong, that is wrong and should be addressed. When there is the playful space. I mean, I could take all of this really back to what my…I’m so fortunate to have this work of learning about play and games and work with children and learning how to teach play because that’s something that has, you know, slowly become less available to young children in the world. Due to so many things. Um, but play, learning how to play.

That’s really what this comes down to, too. People that haven’t learned how to play, which Jaiman McMillan, when we talk about––who’s my teacher, Spacial Dynamics, great stuff. He, um, play is making connections and knowing how to remain separate, making connections and remaining separate. And when that play experience doesn’t happen, then when you have come into this budding sexuality, if you don’t know how to interact and then separate how to interact and read, “oh, that’s not what the situation calls for now.” When you aren’t listening, that’s when violence happens. Right? When those, those feelers that sense and perceive the situation, if they’re not working, if they haven’t been trained to work properly, that’s when we screw up. And you know, I mean obviously there’s, because I think what happens…I have a lot of compassion for the young man. It’s a scary world to come into having these feelings for a woman. How do you put yourself out there? How do you not be too forceful but not be too cowardly? That’s a fine balance to come into and it’s play. That’s what flirtation is. That’s what that banter is. That’s what’s so fun. When it’s engaged in properly. And so that’s part of the work of being a mother too, is to not be a victim. To have clear boundaries with your children and to be able to engage and let them feel where they are and how they relate to you as the archetype of woman for them. I’m talking about sons and daughters, you know.

Anne:                                         38:26                       Exactly. Let me, hold on one sec. So let’s, let’s conclude with touching on some prescription toward healing this right toward, and we’ll, we’ll get into it in further conversations about, about more of this. We’ll flesh it all out, but I, I love what you identified, which is in a way, let’s get first back in touch with that, that unspoken, a lot of the unspoken understandings between men and women, maybe? Because you, you can’t reduce it all down to language. And I think that’s part of what we’ve been trying to do. And so how do we begin to heal this, this divide between men and women? Because let’s face it, our, the survival of our humanity depends on that union, that healthy union, my door has just opened….So how do we simultaneously, um, fulfill each other’s needs, right?

Thea:                                         39:42                       That is the thing. There it is.

Anne:                                         39:45                       So, yeah. So how do we, so, so we need to focus on healing that. Perhaps a conversation needs to begin between men and women, right? A new conversation. That fosters renewed respect for each other’s strengths and what they bring to the party. Right? Once we do that, we can start focusing on our roles as parents to these new human beings coming in who are going to take our place and, uh, keep steering this ship. And I guess this is not any great epiphany or great answers to it all. But in our last conversation, I had mentioned that, uh, you know, someone, a friend of ours had been talking about, you know, maybe like a, a woman’s conference to kind of to heal, to heal the traumas. Right? We haven’t even touched on to traumas that, and we’ll do that in another one. And my reaction was resistant because I feel as if it may draw, uh, the type of person who wants to have more me time, be coddled, uh, and try to do this work in isolation, which can’t be done. Right? And then you said, you pointed out, well, let’s bring the men, too. Right?

Thea:                                         41:26                       It’d be more fun!

Anne:                                         41:28                       And, and, and then, and I was saying, well, and the children, right? Let’s bring the children. And so let’s make it a family conference. Right? And you said, “It’s called camping!” And there’s something to that because when you’re camping, you’re out there. You’re together. And unless you’re gonna go run away into the wilderness, you’re stuck together and you gotta make it work.

Thea:                                         41:56                       And you gotta make it work and it, and it simplifies. I mean, why do we all like to go? I mean, those that like to go camping? It simplifies our, what we do, eat, sleep, clean up, leisure time. And that’s about it, right?

Anne:                                         42:15                       Yes. And, and spending all that time together without distractions of television.

Thea:                                         42:22                       And, and phones, and everything else that is so accessible and prevalent everywhere.

Anne:                                         42:27                       Yes. Forces us to respectfully figure out how to inhabit our space together.

Thea:                                         42:38                       And so, and, and, and to have conflict that you then can learn how to create your own boundaries and respect other’s boundaries for solutions.

Anne:                                         42:50                       Gosh, that’s so true. Even without lots of rooms in a house or you know, uh, a job to go off to. Right? So…

Thea:                                         43:01                       Because you’re in it.

Anne:                                         43:28                       Yes. Cause you’re in it and you and you, you can’t go anywhere. So we’re going to hold that thought for our next conversation.

Thea:                                         43:37                       Let’s go camping.

Anne:                                         43:14                       That, you know, maybe what the world needs, the Western world needs is families going camping.

Thea:                                         43:19                       Families going camping!

Anne:                                         43:21                       And they may be able to work it all out,.

Thea:                                         43:25                       It’s true though! Because then your, your problems present. Your issues present when you cannot isolate in the way that the world is becoming more and more accustomed to. So…

Anne:                                         43:39                       Yes, yes! And you don’t have your shrink there to go talk about it with either.

Thea:                                         43:43                       And you don’t have anyone to complain to. I mean, honestly, families going camping is like step one, you know, your own nuclear family. Step two is do it with another family. Step three, add another family. And then it’s like that’s how you build culture. Because then you’re going to have conflicts. You and I, even when I, when I come up with my kids and the things that come up for our kids, how they have a different family culture that they have to interact with and work through and meet and find a dynamic together. So that’s our, our remedy. Play games, interact in real ways. Do real things.

Anne:                                         44:28                       Yes. And let’s start talking about putting it into language that what we’re trying to do is heal the dynamic between men and women. Not, and that is the empowerment. That is empowering. To, to continue dividing and uh, vilifying…

Thea:                                         44:50                       Blaming.

Anne:                                         44:50                       Right. Blaming will get us nowhere. So let’s, let’s shift these movements. Let’s figure out some new movements for the next conversation.

Thea:                                         45:02                       Absolutely. Wonderful. Thank you, Anne.

Anne:                                         45:05                       Okay. All right. I’m going to stop the recording and hang on. Looks Right. Stop. Can we want to stop it? Yes. If you, yes.