Archive | feminism

Why I’m Still a SAHD (Part One: Why I Stay)

Why I'm Still a SAHD

You can read the intro to this series here!

I always tell people I live at Eyrie Park, but Eyrie Park is just a plot of land outside of an ordinary town in Texas. I actually live in a genuine College Town. The city is built around the university, the school colors fly in front of nearly every business and game day is like a sacred holiday. I have come to love living here because of all the benefits I can reap from the school without ever actually attending. Broadway plays and presidential candidates reserve our auditorium, opportunities to serve and learn and have fun are plentiful and, best of all-thousands of students from all over the world flood into my backyard and give this unsocialized homeschooler ample chances at making friends!

However, despite all the appeal of our nearby university, I have never applied to attend. Every year I ask myself if I’m meant to get a degree (I even considered it very seriously just last year) and come up with the same answer: not now. This may all seem irrelevant to the topic of staying at home. After all, I could easily live at home while going to school locally. But it’s the perspective of my university friends that makes being at SAHD even more appealing.

We often have students into our home; a large 1970’s house which shows it’s age here-and-there. We sit around the fire pit in our lovely hilly yard or gather around our scuffed up well-loved dining table for casseroles or card games. We pile onto our big red couch for movies and coffee. We squawk late into the night over jokes that wouldn’t be as funny in the morning.

I’ve had friends look at me and tell me they don’t understand my family, but they love it. I’ve had them say I live in “a different world.” I’ve heard that I can’t relate to their lives. I’ve been told I’m “so lucky” more times than I can count. People tell me they don’t want to ever leave. They sink into our couch, mug of coffee in hand or launch out on our tree swing and somehow they are in “a different world” for an afternoon too.

There is nothing actually magical about our home. It’s not the mod-squad architecture or my mother’s propensity to decorate with things we find in the woods. It’s not my sister and her husband using our kitchen as a culinary school, constantly trying new recipes and making things from scratch I never knew didn’t grow in a bottle. It isn’t my younger siblings’ obnoxious and charming disregard for personal space. It isn’t the constant hum of the dryer or the screech of the parakeet that gets louder the louder we talk. It isn’t the way we run out of dishes after every single meal or the books that are threatening the integrity of our many shelves or the butterflies my dad has shipped from the jungle and pins into abstract art.

It isn’t our beloved six acres on which we had to fell over forty trees during the drought or the pond with the turtles that surface for cat food or the construction site in the meadow that seems like it will never be done. It isn’t The Thinking Bench or The Beck or the family of raccoons that lives on our roof.

What is it, then? I hope you’re not disappointed when I tell you that I’m not entirely sure. I know it has to do with the way family is our top priority. Eyrie Park is a theocracy (God at the head) and a our jokes about it being a commune aren’t far off, either. Food is prepared in an oven or a pot on the stove which are about the same size. We all sit down together at least once a day to enjoy a meal together, even if it’s just turkey sandwiches.

My mom has always stayed home, since she became pregnant for the first time (with my brother who is nearing thirty.) I know that’s a privilege many women do not have, but it’s also a choice. Sundays are a sabbath, we don’t work if we can help it, though my dad’s ox has often “been in the ditch” over the years. (He’s actually off on Sundays consistently for the first time ever as of a couple of months ago!) Advent and Lent brings us together every evening for the lighting of a candle, the saying of a prayer, a reading of the Word, a singing of a song. And not everyone in the family would get a call back if we had auditions for a family band. We just sing anyway.

It isn’t a perfect place, by any means. Sometimes we hurt each other’s feelings or even fight, loudly. Sometimes we shirk on our chores and don’t have any clean plates for dinner. Sometimes we’re too tired to sing after we light the candles.

Sometimes I get fed up with my lack of independence and feel like I need to drive away before I burst. That’s a real feeling, and if any other stay-at-home adults feel that way: that’s okay. Your mom probably feels the same way sometimes.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to check eleven schedules before making plans. Sometimes I wish I could buy food that comes in small packages and eat the whole thing myself. Sometimes I wish there wasn’t a line for the (cold) shower. Sometimes I’d like to arrive at church on time and not spend ten minutes looking for an empty row to accommodate us.

And yet, I work two jobs and lead a service team every weekend and hang out with friends in between despite not owning a car. And when I’m done answering phones at the office and chasing toddlers at my second job and praying with widows on Saturday mornings, I get in my dad’s car and turn the key and think, I can’t wait to get home.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Other Reasons

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Why I’m Still a Stay-At-Home Daughter: An Intro

Why I'm Still a

“All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

I am twenty-two and I have been a S.A.H.D. (stay-at-home daughter) my entire life. If you aren’t familiar with this term, you probably weren’t homeschooled and born in the 80’s or 90’s into a Christian home. Perhaps you also do not know about denim jumpers. Though we will be quick to tell you that SAHDaughterhood is nothing new, the modern idea and the acronym are the result of the homeschool movement which brought thousands of American kids out of the public school system in the 80’s and 90’s and still influences families today.

The idea stems from the belief that women are meant to be part of a home. Many people believe that girls should always live under their parents’ roof and authority until they marry. Advocates for this ideology include the Botkins and other folks at Vision Forum, a ministry which was recently shut down after the leader was found to be having inappropriate relations with a young woman. This group believed that to move out from under the protective wing of a patriarch, unmarried is wrong because you are being independent, which is unwarranted if not unholy. (Ironically, that’s why this young woman was living under the care of their leader, who molested her for a period of years.)  I started this post off with the verse from 1 Corinthians to indicate that though am technically a SAHD, my blood boils a little when I hear the term. I stay at home because it’s best for me, not because it makes me better.

I actually bought a book on how to be a good stay-at-home daughter at one time, but I was never able to read it. Every time I tried, I would get to a paragraph about women needing to stay home no matter what and shut the book. I would think about Elisabeth Elliot and Amy Carmichael and other single, female missionaries who have my deep respect, and put the book back on the shelf. I would literally have to sit still and take deep breaths for a moment before I could go on, so hurt was I. I finally gave myself some grace and got rid of the book. It was lawful for me to read it, but not beneficial.

It is these types of experiences which have led me to venture back into the topic of “staying home” while single. As I said, I’m twenty-two and I’m single and I live with my parents and six of my eight siblings. I was born in the 90’s, I was homeschooled and my family attends a conservative Christian church. Did I mention there are nine kids in my family??

The stereotypes are probably popping up in your mind like images of spaghetti straps supposedly pop into teenage boys’ minds after they’ve been desensitized. (Little homeschool joke there, for the Pubs reading along.) But the truth is, my family never really became a part of this movement. My parents read the Bible and apply what they read. Sometimes that leads us to live more conservatively than the folks around us, sometimes more liberally. 

And I read the Bible too. And not at my Papa’s feet, while he adds commentary. In private. To apply to my own life. Hold onto your head coverings! (Not to say that everyone involved in this ideology was/is this close-minded, just using extreme stereotypical examples!)

And though there are nine kids in our family, we are not anti-birth control. As a matter of fact, five of my siblings are adopted from other countries. And though we homeschool, we have experience with public school too. And my mom wears shorts and highlights her hair. (It feels good to get that off my chest!)

I don’t make light of these things because I think women who don’t wear shorts and do wear head coverings are dumb. I’m not making fun of them (I’m actually good friends with a few people who dress that way.) What I’m making fun of is the way our society things homeschool + Jesus = Amish. That’s not the way it works, at all. As a matter of fact, Amish kids aren’t homeschooled and I don’t think they wear denim!

So if I don’t stay home because I believe it’s sinful for unmarried women to move out, why do I stay? After all, I live in a bustling college town. My lifestyle isn’t exactly the cultural norm. Great question. :)

I hope this post served as intro for those who aren’t familiar with Stay-at-Home-Daughters and a bit of an encouragement for those who are. Stay tuned for Why I’m Still a Stay-At-Home Daughter Part One: Why I Stay.

-Everly

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the biggest vocabulary issue of 2015

Whew! Finally getting around to writing about Emma Watson’s U.N. address. Since we’ve all mulled over it for a while, I’ll just keep this brief. I love what she’s doing, how she’s doing it and the positive changes that I think will come from her efforts. She is a poised, intelligent representative and she made some great points. Unsurprisingly, she hinted at some pro-choice ideology, which I don’t believe is a woman’s right, but a violation of human rights.

While discussing the short speech with my older sister, she made a great point, which inspired this post. With the #HeForShe movement and all the continuous push for women’s rights to be increased worldwide, we are about to see the biggest vocabulary issue of the recent years culminate in 2015. Some people call it “the F-word.” Some people stamp it on their bodies or their cars, other people run from it like it’s ebola with warts. It’s feminism.

Emma Watson uses it, Wendy Davis uses it, midwives in women’s centers use it, celebrities use it, preachers use it, bloggers use it. And they all mean something different.

The point my sister made is so simple, I wonder why we haven’t done this before. Emma Watson tells the U.N. that the He For She Movement is for men as well as women, so why, instead of using the confusing, tainted old term of “feminism,” don’t we say that we want “gender equality”?

Is it because we are sentimental? Stubborn? Rebellious?

I am really asking!

If we want men and women to be treated equally, why is that an “ism” rather than a term that I can hardly imagine anyone outside of a cult arguing with?

That’s really all I have to say today. What do you think about the terminology at stake? Will it have a negative effect on 2015?

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on being called anorexic

"Being skinny doesn't make me love my life..."

I doubt I’ll ever forget it. I was at a science museum, I was about fifteen and I probably weighed ninety pounds. I was a healthy, happy teenager having a fun day out with my family the first time I heard it. Someone whispering (loudly) from a group of students to my right. “Oh my god.” She gawked at me. “Anorexic!”

My sister and I just kept walking and later laughed about it. Wow! What do they know? I was far from anorexic. As a matter of fact, I often ate more than my friends, who were all average-size if not big for our age. I had no food issues whatsoever. The only thing I was guilty of was having my mother’s genetics and a high metabolism. Today, at age 22, I am not the bean pole I once was. I don’t wear adjustable waist pants anymore and I finally turn the airbag on in the passenger seat. However, it has recently come to my attention that many people still view me as that girl at the science museum did.

I am an underweight, flat-chested, spindly adult. I am also perfectly and completely healthy.

I don’t eat low-fat. I love cooking with butter, getting seconds of bread and I often indulge my sweet tooth. I don’t work out very often. I really need to get back to it, because I want to be stronger and protect my bones against the osteoporosis that runs in my family, but I feel unmotivated a lot of times. One of the reasons I feel unmotivated to work out is because my body changes very little when I stop working out. In other words, I couldn’t get fat if I wanted to. And because of that, you might hate me.

Trust me when I say I have plenty of other things to bemoan in my life. I don’t have to struggle with weight gain to relate to feeling down about my body or unattractive. I don’t have to constantly try to lose weight to understand the pain of striving for unmet goals. Yes, you guessed it! I’m skinny. But my life is not perfect.

You know why? Because (and this may come as a shock to our 20-something minds, but) weight and worth are not the same thing. 

I am a skinny twenty-two year old woman. I have to be the happiest person in the world, right? Wrong. Being skinny doesn’t make me love my life. It just doesn’t. If I could suddenly have the body of a super model and the teeth of a toothpaste commercial and the hair of a viral Pin, I would not be happy. There is something much deeper and more spiritual to life’s joy. Just ask any beautiful, rich, famous celebrity who is overdosing on their depression meds right now.

You know what really makes me sad when people ask about my weight? It’s not that I feel judged and violated (though sometimes I do.) It’s not even that our society is obsessed with thinness (though it is and that’s awful.) It’s that some girls actually do have eating disorders. And instead of treating these words with caution and being sensitive to folks who cannot control how they view their bodies, we call skinny girls “bulimic” because we can’t stand for them to fit into a societal requirement we don’t.

My dad works in a hospital. He has literally seen girls in Central Texas die of starvation because their minds are so ill. They keep nourishment from themselves despite the urging of their doctors and their mothers whose hearts are breaking. And yes, we have the media to blame. We have photoshop and Sports Illustrated and Pinterest and billboards to blame. But it’s also a disease.

A disease I am grateful I do not have. 

If I don’t call you “fat” and tell you to get on a diet, if I don’t whisper and snicker and call you “glutton,” if I don’t flaunt my body like society wants me to and tell you it’s my hard work that keeps me so “perfect,” will you not call me anorexic? Will you not call me “disgusting,” “boyish” and “sick” as I recently heard folks saying about another slim person?

There has recently been a movement to take our obsessive eyes off of being thinnerthinnerthinner all the time. It is great what words from fuller-figured celebrities can do for girls who aren’t beanpoles like I was. These sort of words prevent eating disorders, I truly believe. But, can we not swing the pendelum so far as to hate the thin? Can we stop imagining that every woman in a size 0 is a “skinny b*****” who kills herself to be thin and judges the heavy? Can we please stop singing that song about being curvy so boys will like you? It’s not helping, really. (Meghan Trainor-you are beautiful, but you would still be beautiful if your thyroid went out on you in the night. And don’t change your body for boys. You’re worth a lot more than that.)

So yes, I’m skinny. Yes, I can eat pretty much whatever I want and see little to no change in my figure. No, I don’t imagine this will last my whole life! And no, I do not have an eating disorder. Now if people would stop picking me up and swinging me around when I try to hug them, all would be right in the world.

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of ladies and flower girls

My little sister Jubilee is eleven years and she loves all things old fashioned. She obsesses over the Little House on the Prairie books, dresses up in a colonial maid’s costume to do her chores and love-love-loves classic musicals. Her favorite actress is Leslie Caron, and who can blame her? Leslie was (and is) elegant, talented and endearing. We also adore the accent, of course.

Since my mother and sisters and I have always had an affinity for old movies ourselves, we are constantly introducing her to “new” films that peak her interest. We’ve watched her light up in the glow of An American in Paris and The Sound of Music. Two movies she had never seen, however, were Gigi and the very famous, My Fair Lady. Jubilee was starting to get upset when she heard her younger friends quote the movies. Why couldn’t she watch them? Did they have bad words? She insisted on knowing.

Leslie_Caron-publicity

Well, yes, actually. IMDB tells us that there are twenty-six uses of mild expletives in My Fair Lady, but no, that’s not why I always put my foot down when she asked to watch it. I personally prevented her from watching those two movies (which we had on DVD in our own cabinet) because I wanted to wait until she was old enough to understand my disclaimers.

Yes, even movies from the 50’s and 60’s need disclaimers sometimes, and especially when it comes to this issue. The issue of the portrayal of women may seem petty or whiny to some. Maybe it sounds like I’m trying to be political or popular. It’s nothing of the sort. The more I think about it, the more I read, the more I simply practice paying attention, the more appalled I am at the media’s portrayal of The Female and the more convinced I am that it affects nearly everything we do.

For example, the classic broadway-turned-movie starring the lovely Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady, is the tale of Eliza Dolittle; a poor, illegitimate English girl who survives by selling violets in the square, and is picked up by a cold and arrogant Mr. Higgins who prides himself in being a bachelor sociolinguist. From day one he is rude, degrading, disrespectful, harsh and heartless toward Eliza, who in turn is hateful toward him. However, as movies tend to go, she begins to fall in love with him in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way. As part of an experimental bet, Higgins trains Eliza to walk, act, dress and-most importantly-speak like an upper-class Englishwoman. In the end (spoiler alert!) she comes running back to him and, in a final act of submission, allows him to demand she bring him her slippers. After all, she loves him, and we can stretch our imaginations enough to believe that, deep down, he loves her too.

audrey hepburn-my fair lady

Yes, I’m serious.

The thing is, I love this movie in a way. It has excellent writing, good humor and music and, my favorite actress in the world-Audrey Hepburn. But I don’t like the message one smidge and I let Jubilee know that before I ever opened the DVD case.

We had a similar discussion before watching Gigi, a movie I love even more. Gigi too is being groomed, only this time with the specific intention of becoming mistress to a wealthy, French playboy. Jubilee and I talked about what a “mistress” is and why Gigi may or may not want to become one. We talked about respecting women (women have to respect women too!) and marrying for love and standing up for ourselves. And then we popped the movie in and had a jolly time.

You see, I’m not going to keep Jubilee from watching anything and everything I disagree with, but I’m also not going to accidentally endorse something I am staunchly against. Much to my heart’s delight, Gigi has a wonderful ending. Everyone learns something and an entire family line is altered. Love wins.

In the words of Eliza Dolittle, “The difference in a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.”

Oh Eliza, how true that is.

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