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Pausing in the Stream


Recently, I was sitting alongside a shallow streambed watching multitudes of salmon make their annual trip back to their breeding grounds. It was … beautiful. Their colors gleamed and sparkled when they caught hints of the watery sunshine above.

Thousands will and have migrated. And those salmon will make the voyage in mass. I witnessed that, as I have before. What struck me on that day, however, was not those salmon who made the migration within their own community, but those who hesitated, who went against the flow of those around them ... who paused.

In the United States, "The Sixties", is known as a time of counter-culture and social revolution. Flamboyance, irresponsible excess, psychedelic colors, flower children, new and different kinds of music all became synonymous with the sometimes radical nature of the era. It was a stand-alone point in time. It will always be remembered by those who lived through it … or so I’m told. I was born in that era … toward the later half, I might add.

There was another movement that, while its roots stemmed from post-World War II era, had gained prominent attention and cultural acceptance in the sixties. This movement is known as The Feminist Movement, which is believed to have begun in 1963, when Betty Friedan published her bestseller, The Feminine Mystique and President John F. Kennedy's Presidential Commission on the Status of Women released its report on gender inequality.

Betty Friedan strenuously objected to the term, “housewive.” Friedan criticized anyone and everyone who thought women should be concerned only with marriage and family. Friedan believed that advertisers were simply manipulators, imprisoning women to stay within the male-created prison bars generally considered a home. By virtue of women considering themselves a “housewife,” they were helping to perpetrate a "sick or immature" society instead of one that encourages women to develop their human intelligence. Friedan also regretted the growth of the suburbs believing them to be a hotbed of continued persecution and brainwashing toward women who would be much happier outside their home. Friedan believed that American housewives were truly miserable. It was her self-directed mission to free them from those bonds through education and social peer pressure. Looking at the history of the feminist movement, I believe we can all agree that she was successful.

My mother was a new and young mother in the 1960’s. She lived, for the most part, in larger cities and more educated communities. The views on “mothering” of her time reflected in part Betty Friedan’s philosophies for women. When I was born, she was urged to bottle feed instead of nurse; work instead of staying home. Thanks to my Dad, she actually had a choice. While it would have been more comfortable, a second income wasn’t necessary to survival. My mother chose to stay home, and to nurse, and to create a beautiful, loving, nurturing home for my Dad, myself, and my two other siblings … when they came along.

Thank you, Mother, for pausing in the stream. Thank you for bucking the trends of your time. Thank you for giving me and my siblings the “best” of you … not just what was left at the end of a tiring day. Thank you, Dad, for always finding a way. Happy Birthday, Mom.


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