Category Archives: Memoir

Why I March – A Woman’s Right To Choose

pro choice

I was raised in a fundamental Christian home. I learned early (and often) that a woman’s place is in the home; that God is vengeful; and that without knowing John 3:16, a person’s eternal destiny would be Satan’s hellfire and damnation. Those were mostly lessons from my father, with reinforcement from the pastor on Sundays.

When I was about six years old, my dad told me that, without his intervention, I would have been aborted. This story was originally shared with me around 1976, and retold many times, just in case I might forget. My father felt it was important to enlighten me on how he saved my life.

His side of the story went something like this… in 1969, when my mom first found out she was pregnant, she was so distraught that she wanted to have an abortion. According to my father, he saved my life by promising her that he’d take a more active role in parenting and that God promised him that I’d be a blessing in their old age.

He’d always wrap it up in a nice red bow, close it out with a prayer to our Heavenly Father, and send me on my way… probably to go play with baby dolls,  run through the sprinkler, or something like that.dolls
To recap… in 1976, as a six year old, in a very religious conservative home, I learned four epic life lessons:

  1. my mom didn’t want me
  2. abortion meant killing a baby (yes, he explained that as well)
  3. my dad saved my life
  4. it was my life’s destiny to be a blessing in their old age

That’s a lot for a six year old to take in. In fact, it’s a lot to carry with you for four decades. But, we all have our cross to bear.

1976 was then… this is now…

Fast forward to November 2016. Shortly after the election, I decided to join the Women’s March on Washington. My reasons are many, but I’ll focus on a woman’s right to choose in this particular post.

Over the years, thanks to inspirational mentors, insightful friends, and surviving 25 years of marriage and raising two kids of my own, my worldview has changed dramatically.  However, in my heart of hearts, there is still a fundamental little girl trying to make sense of morality and life while also desperately seeking peace, light, and universal love in the process.

zen girl

Recently, the little girl inside led me to searching for deeper personal meaning in a woman’s right to choose. I couldn’t remember the historical facts of abortion law so I did a quick Google search on the topic. Within a few clicks, I learned that Row v. Wade changed the laws in 1973.

1973.

As in, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Three??

Wait a minute. Stop the presses. You mean, my mom wanted an abortion 4 full years before it was even legal?!

This was cause for some meditation and discernment.

The result, I believe, may well be the OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY,
and it goes something like this…

In 1969, after two miscarriages and giving birth to five children, my mom found out she was pregnant again. Professionally, my father was a traveling salesman. He was home about 50 days a year… the running joke was that he “was home just long enough to knock her up, and then he’d be back on the road.”

For all intents and purposes, my mom was a single mom during those years. The cooking, cleaning, shopping, homework help, cheering at football games, shuffling to ballet, mending socks, up at 3 a.m. dealing with fevers and vomit, diapers, tantrums, house repairs, and discipline were all on her shoulders — except about 50 days per year. On those days, Dad expected Mom to have seared steak (rare) and potatoes (mashed) on the table, his laundry and ironing caught up, and time to watch football and WWF. That’s a lot of parenting, with little support, and even less self care for my mom.

large family

In 1969, four years before Row v. Wade, my mom (who by the way was also on birth control) found out she was pregnant for the 8th time. Suffice it to say that she’d had enough. She had reached her breaking point.

In addition to legal issues, she also faced the heavy hand of my father, as well as a vengeful God who would curse her for making such a savage and selfish decision.

Desperation cannot even begin to describe the fear and panic she must have felt.

At that time, she had the strength and courage to verbally articulate her desire to end the pregnancy. Please note that her option would have been a hanger, back alley clinic, or driving countless miles to find a physician willing to help her out. She’d need my dad’s financial support, no matter which option she chose.

If I haven’t already mentioned it…
I’m Pro Choice.

And,

in the life that I’ve lived,
I choose life.

But, I haven’t walked down the path my mom walked, in a time when women were submissive to their husbands. I haven’t faced harsh medical consequences of pregnancy that made me choose my life over the life of a developing fetus. I haven’t been the victim of rape which resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. I wasn’t in high school dealing with a decision of college or motherhood. I didn’t have to make a choice between pregnancy or promotion (or travel, or or).

What I do know is that it’s not the government’s (church’s, husband’s, society’s) job to dictate how a woman is to deal with pregnancy. We live in a world where men can have as much sex as they want, and they are never forced to pee on a stick and deal with the outcome.

WomensMarchWashington

On January 21, 2017, I will lace up my shoes and participate in the Women’s March on Washington. I’ll march in honor of my mom, who against all odds in 1969 decided to unleash her inner warrior and articulate her desire to take control of her body.  I march in honor of her conviction to keep me to term, and the hours she spent in the depths of birthing pains, like only a woman can do.

I march in solidarity with women across our vast nation who will not sit silent and allow laws to regress to pre Row v. Wade norms. Let’s save the hangers for our shirts and the back alley for wandering Tom cats. Too many women (and men) have fought the tenacious fight to give a woman complete control of her body.

Period.

My Body My Choice

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

Why I March – Assimilation No More

WomensMarchWashington

This Saturday, I will join the Women’s March on Washington in honor of my mamma – Betty Laverne Mekelburg. This weekend marks what would have been her 81st birthday. The march begins, I recently learned, one block from the National Museum of the Native American.

This is profoundly meaningful to me for a couple of reasons… My mom was born on a reservation.  And, I never met my Native American grandmother, who meant so much to her.

As the story goes… my mom was born on an Indian Reservation in North Dakota. Her mom was white and her dad was Native American. She always told me that, as a white half-breed, she never fit in on the reservation. Her community, she recalled, always whispered and pointed at her curly auburn hair and the fair freckled skin that covered her youthful frame.

The only solace Mamma seemed to recall from her early childhood was her Indian grandmother. This full-framed lady, with salt and pepper hair, was a safe-haven of hugs topped off with a secret stash of warm breads and government issued butter and honey. Back then, Grandma’s embrace was the only thing that would wash away mamma’s whiteness. While my mom never shared much about her past, I do recall a certain fondness spilling out whenever she’d mention her native grandmother.

Mamma’s time as an Indian was cut short. When she was about five years old, the Catholic nuns arrived to remove her and her siblings from the reservation. The details of the sudden exit were never discussed, but she vividly remembered the trauma of nuns dipping her in kerosene to kill any mites, or other germs, that may have been infesting her small, white body. With sadness, she told the story of how they shaved her head to clear out any possibility of lice which may have nestled in her locks of red hair. They took every measure to clean up the “little Indian half-breed”.

I can’t imagine how traumatic and horrifying this experience must have been for my young mamma.

Arriving in her new life, mamma quickly learned that the 1940’s white America was no place for an Indian half-breed. In that regard, her fair skin and red hair served her well. After leaving the reservation, she assimilated as quickly as possible, and never looked back. So much culture and heritage tossed and discarded – a family tree pruned for survival.

There’s a huge gap in the story of my mom’s life. What I did learn from snippets of her early childhood is that racial intolerance, no matter where you are born, or where you end up in life, breeds hatred and fear.

Set me free

People are people are people. I believe that all lives matter. Part and parse as we may, our DNA proves that we are all human with hearts pumping blood and lungs breathing air. The rest is a distraction.

I join the Women’s March on Washington carrying the spirit of Momma’s native soul. In addition, I march with the intention of universal healing across all racial divides. Too many stories of hatred and bigotry line our path to 2017.

 

© 2017, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.

Trump Is President

The results are in… Trump is president. I’ve had about 30 hours to process what this means, and how it impacts my dream of America.

Having said that, this post is dedicated to my Trump supporting friends who have so aptly reminded me that, as Americans, we have the right to vote how we wish. I’ve read many Facebook posts regarding “the votes are counted… let’s move on with life… don’t take it so personal… pull up your panties and move on.”

American thumb up

At the same time, this post is also dedicated to my friends who vehemently oppose everything that Trump stands for. You know, stuff that wasn’t spun by the media, but actually spoken from his own lips?? I won’t waste an ounce of white space on those comments. I’ll let you run an internal movie replaying his “greatest hits” on humanity. (Read: hits on humanity)

To My Trump-Voting Friends:

I say, you are right, in part. It is time for me to pull up my big girl panties. And, move on, I will. But it won’t be “business as usual.” No, too much is at stake. What I say to you is this, I accept (don’t read or assume that means “respect”) your vote. I accept the results of this democratic process.

After reciting several iterations of the serenity prayer, I realize that I must accept what is outside of my control. I can’t control this outcome.

So…

My panties are pulled up, and I’m poised in an acceptance mode. Do you like what you see? Do these panties make my butt look big? Is my hair ok? Do I look better from this angle? Good. Good. Glad we were able to settle that.

2016-11-10-10-12-23

Collage of my personal metaphor for “Big Girl Panties”

As I stand in “Big Girl Panty” mode, please understand that I’ve accepted it. Well, I’m in the process of learning to accept it. Give me time.

I’m not a football girl, but I expect it will take me at least as long to come to terms with this as it does for fans of the losing team to shake off their pain and anger after a big Super Bowl loss. My team lost. Big. As in, we got our asses kicked. And, quite honestly, it hurts.

You voted.

But…

screenshot-2016-11-10-10-47-12
I mentioned that I’m moving on… the American way… but that doesn’t mean it will be “business as usual.” In the past, I’ve kind of kept my political voice quiet when it came to social media or in “mixed” company. I accept am working on accepting your Trump vote. I’m also warming up my voice. That being said, please expect to hear my opinions on things like:

  • Freedom of Speech (for starters)
  • Women’s Rights (that makes me pro-choice, in case you are wondering)
  • LGBTQ (XYZ123…as the list grows) Rights AND Marriage Equality (yes, I firmly believe that two consenting adults have a right to officially proclaim their love and have it recognized by my government, insurance, and community. And, I’m even ok with PDA’s. If I can lean into my husband’s shoulder at a movie, I strongly feel that the gay couple behind me should have the same right.)
  • 2nd Amendment Rights – in line with where we are TODAY vs. when muskets were the protection weaponry of choice. Gun rights don’t silence my right to speak. Don’t try to tread on my pen and paper, either!

These are the quick highlights.

The government now bleeds red… red coming out of the Senate. Red coming out of the, wherever… Oops, I promised I wouldn’t waste space… must.move.on.

To My Friends Who Vehemently Oppose Everything That Trump Represents:

I implore you, take the time needed to lick your wounds… drown your sorrows… armchair quarterback for a bit… complain loudly, stomp your feet, shake the rafters, eat gallons of ice cream, and cry yourself to sleep in the fetal position. Wimpy Teen

I’ve read many Facebook posts over the past two days from strong friends who are deeply shaken. Many are saying that they are pulling off of social media. The pain is just too deep. Again, do what you must to take care of yourself. After all, this shit just got real.

Then, as you are willing and able, please join me. Let’s start the “Big Girl Panty Regime” where we join, united in our unending fight to maintain the liberties that legions of women and men of all races have fought hard to achieve. Talk to your sisters and brothers who are united in this voice. Get off the couch, write your representatives, post your opinions on social media, gather, march… If leading these efforts isn’t your forte, consider looking for organized efforts that you can join.

We have many things of which to be thankful. In fact, I’ve got 14,000 of them in front of me…

2016-11-10-11-01-49

That’s right… I’ve got fourteen thousand… and Trump aint gonna be one of them!

With panties pulled high, I’m warming up my voice and figuring out how I can get to work in this great democracy. The United States of America.

The results are in, and we have our work to do.

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© 2016, The Musing Maven, all rights reserved.