There was a popular radio show in the 1950’s called This I Believe. Now it’s an international organization, featuring over 100,000 essays online from people writing and sharing their statements of truth with the audience: a declaration of the core values in their daily lives. I was discussing my invitation to write this column with a friend of mine, outlining my trepidations and fears, and wondering how on earth would I go about writing an introductory piece. She suggested I take a look and perhaps begin there. I Am Fiona and This I Believe. Because she’s the smart librarian type, I decided to take a look. I fell down a hole in internet land, as I often do, only to emerge about an hour and a half later.
So, here I begin. What do I believe? The thing is, to make such a statement means I have to not only figure out what I believe, but I have to write it succinctly. And when asked to take pen in hand and commit it to paper, it became harder than it originally looked. Part of the problem, as I’ve become a parent, has been figuring out how my pre-mommy life and beliefs intersect with my now-mommy life and beliefs.
The stay-at-home mom vs. the feminist?
Part of what is right for me as a mother is to be a “stay-at-home mom” (there’s a whole column, right there. I’ll be back to that one). I decided not to go back to the work I was previously doing because I don’t want a position that takes me away from my child for the majority of the day. I didn’t want to eventually have to arrange after-school care, Easter, Christmas, and Summer holiday camps, as well as sick days, professional development days and snow days. Because we can manage financially, I didn’t want the added stress in my life. I am blessed. This I know.
But it left me in kind of a no-man’s-land. If I wasn’t doing what I was before work-wise, how do I define myself as a person beyond my child? Yet, when I start to look inside myself, rather than to the external world for validity, I find I have a wealth of knowledge and information.
So part of what I believe is: I am a work in progress. Ok, I stole that one from Bono. But I love the fact that someone I admire so much and who seems so self actualized views himself so humbly, and that’s a trait I wish to cultivate. I believe I am a hypocrite. Yup. Perhaps I could also say I have the prerogative to change my mind. I hope you will see that with this column. Because I believe we are nothing if we aren’t continually challenged in our views and beliefs, and they mean little if they can’t face an honest debate. One of the things that terrifies me about writing is knowing that not everyone shares all my beliefs, and that I will be challenged. This is a step outside my fuzzy warm circle of like-minded thinkers. But wouldn’t the world be boring if we all agreed? And should someone outside my fuzzy warm circle of like-minded thinkers present information or a view point I have not yet had cause to consider or be exposed to, this may cause me to re-think and shift my position. In fact, I really hope so.
None of us is perfect…aren’t we all just doing what we think is best with what we’ve got?
I also believe in equality and that makes me a feminist. It seems this word has sometimes lost its power as a sense of activism in recent years. I’m not sure why the complacency; perhaps the word is overused or passé or it’s just not “cool” any more. But there it is. To be clear, I believe feminism is a verb. It’s something that is done. One can’t be a feminist sitting on their tushie. It requires action and speaking out and sometimes yelling and crying. And I am the squeaky wheel. What this meant in my pre-child years, was working in the local women’s community with women escaping violence. Since having a child it has meant becoming aware of how a woman is treated in motherhood. I believe in educating women and empowering them to make the best decisions for themselves at that point and time in their lives. And regardless of their decision, supporting the fact that it is the best thing for them. Sometimes that’s hard.
I am a cloth diapering, attachment parenting, gender neutralling, full term breastfeeding, play based learning mom. I prefer vegan and vegetarian fare. I love the Farmer’s Market and attempt to buy local and organic. I love being outdoors and active and believe that it really doesn’t matter what form of activity you are doing. As long as you’re moving and cultivating a love or sport or movement, it’s of benefit to yourself and your family. But you know what? You might not believe in any of these things. None of them might be right for your family. And perhaps we can learn and grow with each other, and understand the broader context of the world we live in. And here’s a secret: sometimes, in the middle of winter, it’s really hard to get out of the house and walk, move or exercise and get motivated. There is boxed macaroni and cheese in my cupboard and my child is addicted to animal crackers. None of us is perfect and I think that’s a great starting point. Aren’t we all just doing what we think is best with what we’ve got?
So here I stand, taking a deep breath and jumping in with both feet. My Name is Fiona, and This I Believe.