Don’t call us, we’ll call you

August 25, 2010

For old times’ sake

I’ve been coming down with something for the last few days, but it really hit me hard last night.  Although Addison also seems to be having some congestion and drainage issues, we’re trying to keep her away from me as much as possible so she doesn’t end up really sick.  Which means . . . this is my first day of bed confinement and no childcare (!) since having my baby girl.  Oh, staying in bed all day long, how I’ve missed you!  (Of course, it would be even more exciting if I didn’t feel so darn crummy.)

So what have I done with all this free time that will evaporate so quickly as soon as I stop hacking up a lung?  Well, it seemed only fitting that while Neal cooks and cleans, takes care of the baby, and brings me herbal tea, lozenges, and meals on demand, I get in my semiannual dose of Feminist Mormon Housewives (fMh).  It’s true, actually, that I tend to visit this blog only a couple times per year, spend a solid 4 or 5 hours perusing it, and leave it for the next time.

I know it surprises some people that I don’t relate to fMh more.  Maybe they think, you’re opinionated, political, a little non-traditional, a little domineering (okay, maybe only my Dad and Elizabeth Harris think this.  Oh, and Neal, did I not mention Neal?), got married old, career-oriented, have “gender issues,” whatever.  I do actually find a lot of the topics very interesting and I’m undoubtedly glad that it exists as a forum for people who benefit from the community there.  But it’s just not my scene anymore, for a million reasons both simple and complex.

I won’t belabor the million reasons, but I will tell you about two women that helped to change this formerly angsty, (occasionally angry) young activist-in-the-making.  The first, poet Nikki Giovanni, wrote this fantastic poem, “Revolutionary Dreams,” which I stumbled upon in my late teens:

i used to dream militant dreams
of taking over america
to show these white folks how it should be done
i used to dream radical dreams
of blowing everyone away
with my perceptive powers of correct analysis
i even used to think
i’d be the one to stop the riot and negotiate the peace
then i awoke and dug
that if i dreamed natural
dreams of being a natural
woman doing what a woman
does when she’s natural
i would have a revolution

It was one of those light-bulb moments when I realized there was another way to change things than militancy.  Her web bio best summarizes what I appreciate so much about her work: “Her focus is on the individual, specifically, on the power one has to make a difference in oneself, and thus, in the lives of others.”  Oneself, first.  That’s not easy.  In fact, if you’re doing it right, it’s probably excruciatingly painful at times.  But I’ve decided it’s the only way.  She helped teach me that.

The other thing I’ve come to appreciate about her more and more as I’ve aged is her position on motherhood.  This is a complicated and tension-filled issue in the feminist community, and fMh is no exception.  On a recent post at fMh, someone left this comment, “I’m a nurse first, then a mom.”  As confused as I feel sometimes trying to work out this new identity as a mother, when I read that, I knew immediately it wasn’t true for me.  And not only because I’m not a nurse :).  Even as I don’t want mother to be the only thing I do or am, I know that it comes first and has since before my baby girl was born.  And so I love what Nikki Giovanni said about her son: “I just can’t imagine living without him.  But I can live without the revolution, without world socialism, women’s lib . . . I have a child.  My responsibilities have changed.”  Thanks, Nikki Giovanni, for speaking to my soul so eloquently.

The other woman is even more important to me, but her story will have to wait for another day.



  1. Love this, Lindsay. I had never read that particular poem, but how powerful! It got me right there, right in my heart.

    And I’m a bit like you when it comes to fMh – interested, not devoted. Even though I call myself a Mormon feminist. I read the posts themselves pretty consistently, but steer clear of the comments 95% of the time. And I find it’s mostly because, like you said, I like my “focus on the individual.” The group has power, the group is important, but I find that too much immersion in the group (WHATEVER group it might be, not just fMh) distracts from doing the work I need to do on myself. It makes me think I care about one thing or another when, really, I don’t have any personal connection to it. So while I’m definitely full of gratitude that fMh exists, for me and for other women its helped, I find I’m happier when I partake in moderation.

    Comment by Sara Katherine Staheli Hanks — August 25, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    • I like how you articulated the downside of groupthink. I definitely notice when I do read some fMh pieces I sometimes wonder, should I be bothered by that? But no, I don’t need to manufacture things to be bothered by if they don’t really resonate with me 🙂

      Comment by llcall — August 26, 2010 @ 12:07 am

  2. I read fmh every day but refrain from leaving comments because I have found that any opposing viewpoint, no matter how politely stated, gets flamed immediately. I think the only blogger I really enjoy reading is Stephanie (although no surprise there b/c she’s supposed to be the site’s “conservative”). My husband asks me why I read the site but I think it’s because I’m fascinated by people that I disagree with–plus they do make good points some times. Here is another woman who really spoke to me

    Comment by Emily T — August 25, 2010 @ 10:48 pm

    • WOW, Emily, that piece is REALLY powerful…and sad. She articulates some of the major downsides of rabid feminism very well. And I agree about the comments on fMh; there is not much room for disagreement.

      Comment by llcall — August 26, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    • Wow, that article is AMAZING! I just posted the link on Facebook. It makes me think a little bit about my former boss who, when I told him I was pregnant with my first baby, lectured me about having my own “rising career” or just “hitching my star” to my husband’s career while I stayed home with a baby. Of course, this from a guy who had dogs as his children … Anyway, 4 years and 3 baby girls later, yeah. Don’t need your office or your sucky projects that I hated anyway, buddy, to have a “rising career”! I’ve always wanted to be a published writer and if I get the chance, I’ll take it. But even that lifelong goal takes a distant second to my career as a mom!

      Comment by treen — August 26, 2010 @ 4:20 am

  3. I keep trying to think of something good to write in this comment. Mostly, I am so glad we’re friends and that you’re appreciating motherhood. Addison is lucky lady to have you as her mama. This seems to be the only kind of comment I leave, but it’s what I really want to say I guess :).

    Comment by Rach — August 26, 2010 @ 1:25 am

  4. We should talk more about this stuff together. I’ve wrestled with a lot of issues in feminism, but have also found more peace with everything since becoming a mother and focusing on myself, not on what’s right for others (Not my job). I should check fmh out sometime i guess. It’s just weird because compared to many mormons, i’m a feminist, but many non-Mormon feminists I know would not consider me one, and I’m not sure where I fit in myself sometimes. a friend of mine thinks this is a critical flaw in the theory and application of the feminist movement and i agree.

    Comment by Victoria Blanchard — August 26, 2010 @ 2:27 am

  5. What a powerful poem. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Kristin — August 26, 2010 @ 4:22 am

  6. Thanks for the shout-out: what great company I’m in! I’ve actually come across the fMh site on occasion, but–unsurprisingly–I did not feel like I had found home there. 🙂

    Comment by Elizabeth — August 26, 2010 @ 4:32 am

  7. I loved this post… I admit to 2-3 waives of goosebumps. I am so glad that you have Addison, and you are learning this version of yourself. Although I’ve only been on fMh one other time, there are obviously things I don’t connect with. However, the idea of being a ward, a caretaker, a nurturer, that is something I do relate to. Oh, yeah, and I love that poem!

    Comment by Robin-Elise Call — August 26, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  8. This is a great post. You express what I have never put into words so well.

    Comment by Cranney — August 26, 2010 @ 4:53 pm

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