Both my kids were born at home. People have often remarked on the courage I must have had to have made that choice. It wasn’t courage––it was a desire for a comfortable, supportive birth environment I knew was the best bet for my kids and me to avoid unnecessary trauma and intervention. There are times when medical intervention is necessary, but most of the time, the medical system itself and its medicalized birth practices create the issues which lead to intervention in the first place.
Our bodies are designed to give birth. Fit, healthy women in most cases should be able to deliver their babies naturally––if only they are allowed to. I was 37 years old with my first pregnancy and 40 with my second. My husband and I eschewed all the tests and screenings recommended for “a woman my age,” as we were committed to bringing our children into the world, regardless of what abnormalities or issues such screenings might suggest. And we were blessed with two wonderfully healthy children born without complication or intervention.
I remember being questioned about our choice to birth at home when I was pregnant with our eldest. Well-intended friends pointed to historical maternal and infant mortality rates as an argument for hospital birth. A closer look at the history, however, largely implicates hospitals and doctors in the staggeringly high maternal mortality rates from puerperal fever in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries––in which it was common practice for the medical profession to examine pregnant women and deliver babies after performing autopsies, WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. As Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystrianyk emphasize in their landmark book “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” puerperal fever’s massive maternal death toll profoundly impacted the fabric of society. It is no wonder this tragic and largely avoidable episode in recent human history influences our fears surrounding childbirth.
Furthermore, the medical system in the US is the cause of so many deaths that researchers from Johns Hopkins wrote an open letter to the CDC to request that CDC change its record collection criteria to accurately inform the public of this alarming statistic. With medical errors being the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, the hospital hardly seems a sensible environment for a healthy expectant mother to deliver her healthy baby into. On the contrary, the mother and baby would seem at less risk of fatal complications in the safety of their own home, attended to by trained midwives.
Beyond the health and safety of the mother and child, there are many more reasons to deliver at home. In the privacy of her own home, the mother is allowed to labor at her own pace. She can labor in the comfort and quiet of her own bedroom, bathtub or birth tub. While her midwives monitor her and the baby’s vitals throughout, they are unobtrusive and respectful, and they accommodate her timing, not theirs. She is not surrounded by or attached to any machines and monitors, and she is able to move her body freely.
Without intervention or epidural, labor proceeds naturally, as baby and mother coordinate their rhythm and contractions to bring the birth. The midwives do not pressure the mother to take Pitocin to induce labor. She is allowed to proceed as her body and her baby’s body dictates.
Family members or chosen friends are the only other people in the home, quietly and respectfully on-hand to support the laboring mother and whatever she may need at the time. A hushed reverence pervades the scene. And when the baby arrives, he or she is welcomed into the quiet, warm room, surrounded only by loving family, friends and trusted midwives the mother has gotten to know well over the course of her pregnancy.
Newborn baby and mother remain together in the comfort of their bed, while over the next couple of hours the midwives gently monitor, record birth stats and care for the mother (one of my midwives even brought me a plate of scrambled eggs after the birth of our daughter, as she felt I needed the protein). Once they determine all is well, they pack up their oxygen and equipment, hug the new mother, kiss the new baby and go home, only to return the next day and beyond to continue post-partum monitoring and care.
Mother and baby, big brother and father fall asleep in the comfort of their own beds. What a lovely way to welcome this new member of the family. And what a lovely way to come into the world.
When children are responsible for essential family chores and necessary home and yard maintenance, they maintain a critical focus on their contribution and significance to the whole––and a general sense of purpose which is a necessary antidote to feelings of angst and depression.
Anne: 00:01 Hello, Thea.
Thea: 00:04 Hello, Anne.
Anne: 00:06 So today, let’s talk about being purposeful. It follows a little bit on our last conversation about even what makes us feel attractive or what makes us attracted to someone else. And purposefulness was a large part of that. And it also relates to a lot of other things we’ve been observing through our work and experience in life, parenting. We’ve been observing an alarming rate of depression and anxiety, lack of focus in children, in extraordinarily young children who you wouldn’t be expecting that of quite yet––in those typical like angsty teenage years. When children much younger than that are demonstrating symptoms and signs of depression, we need to explore that and address that in a way that we haven’t been doing obviously very successfully in this culture. Right? And you identified the lack, it seems, at least in the communities that we are surrounded by. Granted it’s coastal California. There’s a privilege of wealth in the areas that we live in. So I think that clouds or colors the landscape. But we’re noticing that children are not given, they’re not used to a lot of the similar day to day chores, meaningful, purposeful, necessary tasks that we grew up with. Right?
Thea: 02:10 Right. And actually, and
this might be a quick segue, but it’s something else that just popped into my
head a little bit. Because as you were talking about that I was picturing our
childhood, and while we had work, household work, I feel like, so a lot of our
work actually was taken into sport quite young and a lot of our time was put
there. And so that’s another coloring of this conversation, I think of the, the
hijacking of meaningful work. Now that’s not me saying sport is bad, but
there’s a lack of balance. And that ties into earlier conversations we’ve had where
we talked about the difference of sport and play a little bit. And then when
that play is hijacked right into sport, some other development doesn’t occur.
And then the sport takes on a deeper meaning then truly it should have. And
sense of self worth––as you were speaking about those stages of depression that
come earlier and earlier and then when there’s a little bit more of that nuance
of the angsty years where young people are learning how to deal with all of
these senses of being, these powers and forces of becoming a young adult, when
those don’t have a channel to be directed toward, they become self destructive
and socially destructive forces, you know, in their circles of friends. And so
that ties into, when there’s not the sense of meaningful capable purpose and
work and the capacity to meet those things, we get depressed. People get
depressed, and they can become ugly and lash out at others when they’re feeling
small themselves. Right?
Anne: 04:11 Yeah. You’re sparking
some thoughts in me, ’cause we hadn’t even talked about this in tying in the
sports, but it hadn’t even occurred to me. Yes. You know, I’m always saying,
“Oh, back in our day, back in our day when I had to wash the dishes every
day and clean up or shovel the snow or mow the lawn” or all of those
things that I don’t see a lot of kids doing these days––we also though, what I
should say for anyone viewing is that, we were a big tennis family, so we all
played tennis. It was a bit fanatical. We attribute our parents’ divorce to
tennis. And it became our job. And I, and I’m now kind of remembering, I’m
thinking back to the fact that, so our father, a second generation
immigrant––athletics and sports was very important to them. I think because of
the discipline that it practiced, and obviously, there’s a joy and a pleasure
in aspiring and honing that excellence that was manifest––like our uncle who
was drafted by the Bulls. Right? But they had a balance back then. They
certainly didn’t live in this age of technology and hyper developed world and
structure, which scheduled kids almost every minute of their day. So that, that
sport and that discipline and that activity, that was a respite from some of
the chores and hardships, necessary hardships of everyday life. Right? And so
then they––our baby boomer parents––brought that to our generation.
“Sports! It’s toward scholarships. It develops, you know, rounds you out,
keeps you fit. Good values, psychological discipline and all.” Which I
admit it gave me, I think it helped me with. And opened up opportunities for
me. But that was even too emphasized probably back then, you know, amidst also
all of the dance classes and music lessons and voice lessons and, tutoring and
school and….And, and, and, and.
Anne: 07:10 And I remember now that I
think about it feeling––I mean it kind of cultivates a bit of a narcissism too.
It’s just, sure, Oh, you know, yes, lifting our children up is something we
want to do but not in such an extreme way which puts all the focus of the
family on them and how well they do in their match. Pulling me out of school
for tennis lessons. Or I remember I am sure you remember well, yeah, I can say
this now, I remember getting into a car accident and I won’t give all the
details, but it was a really not a great situation for many reasons, but it was
right in the middle of an important tournament, which I was doing well in and I
didn’t really have any concern that there would be a problem about it because
that was paramount. I was doing well in the tennis tournament and all that
other stuff got it washed away. So I really just digressed there, but it does
make me realize that it’s not just our generation, it’s, it’s what’s built on
the other generation from what they took from their generation. And it’s gotten
Thea: 08:40 Completely. And it seems
that, I mean, and maybe it’s just in the circles I’m living in, that there is,
a slow, steady waking up to the lack of balance in that scenario. That this
idea, “That’s how my kid’s going to go to college,” is, you know, maybe
that works for some people that they start this sport, they pursue it, they get
a scholarship. Maybe those children actually continue playing or participating
in whatever that sport is. More often than not, those children are burnt out by
age 14. Right when it would be a good time for them to be picking up that
sport, because they started so young. And then they quit, and that’s the moment
they need that channel and that focus to hone. But people are realizing it’s
not so successful. I mean college, that’s a whole other conversation about the
distortion of all of that and…
Anne: 09:44 Of the importance, the
importance of college now, or the relevance of college in this rapidly changing
world, given how much it costs, it’s no longer the answer, right? To the
predictable paths of adulthood and profession.
Thea: 10:03 Right. I mean because
young people come into the world with $50,000 of debt. Or more.
Anne: 10:08 50? 200! Yeah, exactly.
So yes, I agree. And you in your Waldorf circle are more in touch with a lot of
folks that are aware of that. And, so shifting course, reversing course,
embracing a new course that hopefully rounds that impulse in our world out. And
me having come to Waldorf as well, as a homeschooler, differently I recognize
that too, recognize that more given my own experience. I mean, I was adamant
about not letting my kid join sports teams or get involved in any outside,
those types of extracurricular classes, whatever––structured, formalized
organized sports, dance, all of that––too early because we did it so young that
I burnt out by the time I really could have used it much more significantly at
the time in my life, you know? So, yeah. You know, I mean it’s not just Waldorf
education, it’s, it’s all of the alternative pedagogies. It’s also the increasing
understanding and study into the importance of play in education. And how far
we’ve gone away from that and how we’re trying to move back there slowly,
Thea: 11:55 Well, how much is really
happening when we play as children and, and how much is stolen from the
development of the human being when those opportunities are lost, or robbed
essentially of that time.
Anne: 12:11 Yeah, short shortchanged,
Thea: 12:12 So then, I don’t know if
this is too much, but then ’cause what had inspired this conversation was
really––so play is purposeful work at certain stages of the development of the
child and the human being, really. And then and then we’re talking about what
other purposeful work is there. And we do recognize we’re in one little bubble
of a view into the world in coastal California. But you know, where we grew up,
we did, we have to shovel the walk or shovel the driveway or whatever. You
know, picking up sticks, I remember, just before mowing the lawn or whatever,
all these things, which mowing the lawn, I didn’t go there, but raking leaves
also. But––So what do these young people have today? And I was sharing that and
it’s not quite formed yet still, so maybe something will get clearer––I feel
like as a female, and maybe it’s simply because I am one––that there are still
more tasks, household tasks that bring me a sense of real satisfaction. Because
I, I enjoy the homemaking. I don’t see my sons enjoy homemaking quite as much
as I do or even did as a young person.
Anne: 13:35 Yeah, I have a girl and a
boy. And the difference is so marked in terms of how they come to it or resist
it. You know, so yes, go ahead.
Thea: 13:51 So, so just thinking––and
I know the way my life is, I don’t have opportunities for my kids. I’m not
living on a farm, so I don’t have this like more physical work accessible to
them. So it’s a real task as a parent in a place where I live to find this. And
that’s what sport kind of gives an echo of, right? Of meaningful work in our
culture. But outside of that, what work do they get to do that we can’t live
without? What do they get to participate in that helps the family, that is
essential, maybe, hopefully, kind of boring so that they have the time and
space to develop a rich interior world.
Anne: 14:36 Or not boring, but monotonous,
perhaps. And you just made me realize city living is emasculating.
Thea: 14:54 Totally! So that’s what
we’re talking about today. Get to the country.
Anne: 15:00 But there’s quite a push
toward the city living and we could go down a lot of rabbit holes there. So
what do we do? What’s, what is the prescription? Okay. I mean, let’s first
identify the fact that we had also talked about this a little bit too, you
know, as a homeschooler and someone actively involved in my homeschool group I
recognize that boys earlier on are the ones who come to us and then the girls a
bit later, because school is not really suited or designed for a boy.
Thea: 15:44 The energy that is moving
and coursing through the boy. And sometimes the girls. I was kind of one of
those girls in a way too. Like needed to move a lot.
Anne: 15:54 Yeah. You, you are.
Right. Movement teacher and spacial dynamics person that you are––yoga and
dance and…so yes, so school with its abstract, very sitting still,
obedient––however way you cut it there’s an element of people pleasing
obedience because of that framework of school, no matter how great the school
is. It’s not that suited for boys. And increasingly with the, what? 20 minutes
of recess and all of that, it’s so much less. So we need to recognize that. And
in small steps individually, now, what we need to recognize is that for a boy
to become a man, he needs to be able to do traditionally male things. And I
don’t care who I offend saying that! I mean, there is a relevance to the
traditional roles, or the traditional paths.
Thea: 17:05 I mean, I think you could
easily say the more masculine activities without it being offensive, because I
know for me––and I get to watch at school, so at recess, which we have more
than 20 minutes, all in all, we have like an hour, a day of recess. But that’s
not the only movement our kids get. But I see, so let’s take third grade,
fourth grade, second grade, the boys, they’re building, they’re finding wood
and they’re building shelters. That’s their recess. Most often. The girls are
now residing in the shelter, and they’re organizing it and they’re bringing
little plants and making it lovely and sweet. And then the boys want to come in
the house and the girls are like, “No, you mess it up.” And they’re
like, “You can be the dog sleeping by the fire.” This is something
that really happened and it’s, and it’s so perfect. “You Have too much
energy. Unless you’re a resting, boy, you’re not in my house right now.”
Anne: 18:17 Right! And she’s calling
the shots. I mean, it’s certainly no diminishment of the female role in her
realm, in our realm, right?
Thea: 18:25 And there is a really natural acknowledgement. I mean, and there are some girls that are doing the building, not to say there aren’t, and I’m trying to think of any boys in the house. I can’t think of any right now, you know, currently. But, and I remember being that as, as a kid, even when we played in our, on our street, which wasn’t quite a neighborhood, but it was just a little more country and one of our sisters was much more into, “I’ll build this.” And I was definitely more in, “And I’ll make it pretty!” You know? “I’ll do that part.” So different needs in there to be satisfied.
Anne: 19:10 Yeah. While I managed it.
Thea: 19:14 Precisely!
Anne: 19:18 Or not. So, okay, so
we’re at 20 minutes. We’ve identified some stuff. Let’s, let’s, let’s come up
with a bit of a prescription for a couple of minutes.
Thea: 19:30 I don’t know if this is a
prescription, so my apologies again if it’s not that. But I think one of the
other threads I just don’t want to forget was really the question of how is
time spent? That portion of what makes things purposeful in our life. That is
so out of balance. You know, our lives are out of balance and so what––it is!
It’s prescription! Look at that. Boom! So it comes in as to these little
moments that we get to choose. Do we make this work to survive meaningful? And
do we get to put some of our creative forces towards that meaningful work? And
that’s simply…food preparation. Do we buy prepackaged things or do we cook?
Do we take the time to cook real food? Do we, you know self care products? Do
we buy our oils for our face or our creams, or do we make them? And do our
children get to be a part of those things––that we then take the time to make
Anne: 20:35 Okay. Absolutely. But
what I’ll say is that doesn’t address the boys as much as I think we’d like to.
So how about this? I was telling you that we––my husband mainly––chopped a huge
tree down in our backyard. Right? And interestingly different people that we
were talking about doing this before–– he was trying to get some advice or just
discussing––couldn’t quite conceive that he wouldn’t hire that work out. Right?
And he ended up doing it and he, it was a challenge. Because it’s a very big
tree and it wasn’t too far from our house. And you know, it was like climbing,
cutting a few branches here and there so he could still have a ladder to climb
on, with the chainsaw, but didn’t want to use the chainsaw really that high up
in case it slips. So using, you know, a manual saw. And then it ended with the
family with the rope all pulling it down after he had gotten it short enough,
it wasn’t going to ruin our house. “Timber!” Right? And then the kids
helping chop, stack wood. Right? My daughter my son definitely, he thrived in
that. Right? My daughter helped as well. But you know, we have different
interests, you know, that that was I think more satisfying perhaps to, to my
son. So what about just making conscious choices as, as ludicrously privileged
as this sounds? So I, it’s grossing me out to even say this, but you know,
things that we would normally hire someone else to do for us that we’ve never
done before that do fall under that realm of like building and physical
Thea: 22:33 And fixing and taking
apart and putting back together.
Anne: 22:36 Fixing the toilet fixing
the faucet. Painting the front door. The fence. Tom Sawyer. Huck Finn. What
about making small conscious choices, even though it’s not as efficient,
perhaps, maybe you can justify the money because of the time it’s going to
save, you don’t have to manage your kid, all of that. Let’s start giving our
kids more of those meaningful tasks to do. And see what happens and what comes
from that. Yes?
Thea: 23:15 That’s an idea. I mean,
because we want to be able to help our children and help ourselves become more
capable to meet what comes, whatever that is. So we need the opportunities to,
to fail, you know, to, to practice the things that we’re doing. And build the
Anne: 23:35 We also need to
recognize, I mean, I, I’ve heard this argument before that, “Well, you
know, the world is turning, you know, basically everyone’s becoming
coders,” right? I mean, “the world’s all computerized, technology
robotics. Why fight it you know, if you’re going to succeed, I mean, put your
energies there.” Well, I don’t think that that is a healthy approach to
helping children develop. I don’t think that we should reject that awareness of
where the world is and exposure to that at the appropriate times and
cultivating those skills. But if we just move in that direction only and put
all of our efforts in that abstract video game, whatever, learning we are
certainly very weakened. Another aspect of us is weakened. And if that whole
framework isn’t there suddenly or wherever you go in the world or whatever, you
know, your competence is greatly compromised. So let’s work toward, no matter
where we think the world is going, still exercising all aspects of our human
beingness––physical and mental, emotional and spiritual. So you know that,
that’s the general prescription. Let’s determine to make this, continue this,
the next one. Part two of it.
Thea: 25:14 Yeah. There’s more
avenues to go down. We’re just getting it started. So thanks for touching in.
It’s just something that’s been on my mind, definitely lately. And looking
around. So thanks.
Anne: 25:26 Yep. You too.
Thea: 25:28 Have a good one.
Anne: 25:29 You too. Hold on and let
me figure out how to press these buttons. Let’s see. Stop.
Following on an article I wrote a while back calledFeminism 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.
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…
State of things that we see.
Yeah. The state of things.
Fellow women in families… In what we observe in our little windows into the
culture in the world.
Yeah. And into…and the children. Right. Who are coming up to, you know, take
And very challenging times that they’re coming into.
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…
Suffering, and, and, and parents flailing.
Parents are suffering, too.
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.
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
Exactly. Exactly. So it’s nice that we have each other to balance it out.
It sure is.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Something you said, what did it just trigger? Darn it. Women…
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.
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,.
role. And dynamic.
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…
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.
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
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?
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…
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.
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.
Right. That’s okay.
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
Okay, so are you, we’ll wait until it’s not. You there? Oh, it says Theodora
Mason, by the way.
It does. It was frozen for a minute.
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…
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.
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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…
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.
Medication, mental health medication for young children, teenagers, adults.
That’s the norm.
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.
Right. I find this Me Too movement, um, whacked.
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…
And what is…would bring health and happiness. And that’s, that there is a
togetherness that breeds happiness and health.
And we’re not victims. We are participants.
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
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…
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.
Yes, me too.
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.
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
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.
And stop acting like children and victims. Right?
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?
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
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.
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,
That is the thing. There it is.
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?
It’d be more fun!
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.
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?
Yes. And, and spending all that time together without distractions of
And, and phones, and everything else that is so accessible and prevalent
Yes. Forces us to respectfully figure out how to inhabit our space together.
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.
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…
Because you’re in it.
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.
Let’s go camping.
That, you know, maybe what the world needs, the Western world needs is families
Families going camping!
And they may be able to work it all out,.
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…
Yes, yes! And you don’t have your shrink there to go talk about it with either.
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.
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…
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.