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Stay-At-Home Reflections on Feminism
April 22, 2020

This week would have been my mom’s 88th birthday, and to celebrate her, I reflect on feminism. Guarantee you, she just rolled her angelic eyes and is shaking her head at me. But she’s smiling. I can’t imagine two women who differed more in their convictions, yet loved each other more, than Maggie and me.

Her heroes would have been Mary and Margaret from the Bible and Marabel Morgan, author of The Total Woman, whereas a few of mine are Gloria Steinem, Cher, and Michelle Obama. Her song? “Stand by Your Man.” Mine? “Girls Just want to have Fun.” Her guiding principle, “I can do all things who Christ who strengthens me.” My mantra, “Find out who you are and be her!” You get the idea.

We had many discussions that ended in her throwing up her hands in “where did I go wrong?” She told me once, “You know what will happen if you get too open-minded, don’t you? Your brain will fall out.” But never, ever, did we doubt one another’s love.

Maggie was fun.

She told silly jokes and taught each of her grandkids to play Ping-Pong and Rack-o and Skip Bo. She didn’t balk when she found the girl cousins in her closet playing “dry cleaners” with my dad’s suits. There was no limit to the mess she would allow to bake cookies or color Easter eggs with the grandkids.

Maggie was beautiful.

I have this frozen-in-time memory from second grade. I looked up from my desk to see my mom standing just inside the doorway of my classroom smiling at me. She had on bright, red lipstick and a white angora knit hat that my Grandma Princess had sent her. It was as if the heavens had opened and an Angel had appeared as a parent volunteer to help with the second grade reading groups.

Maggie was talented.

Her coconut and butterscotch cream pies, meringue dotted with beads of sugar turned amber, were legendary; the main prize at Mt. Pleasant pot luck dinners. She was an excellent cook and being invited to a meal at her house netted each guest feeling not only wonderfully fed, but spoiled, loved. And the guests were many. After my sisters and I grew up, our extended family meals were events catered by Maggie, with everyone’s favorite dish accounted for.

Never a condiment nor pickle jar was allowed near her table–everything was served in a pretty dish. She was also a talented teacher. Sunday school, VBS, Ladies Bible Study. She taught kids’ church at Mt. Pleasant for years. Looking back, I’m amazed at the way she organized the whole thing and kept first through fifth graders quiet, under control, and seemingly on task for an entire service. If you were lucky enough to be in her Sunday School class, you rested assured that there would be a popsicle at the end of the hour.

Maggie loved.

Her dedication to family was tantamount to servitude. For me, that was scary ground; for her, it was her lane. A lane I preached against, and yet one from which I greatly benefited. Reconcile that. Recently, I was reminiscing with a sweet friend from the past, Joni, who wrote about spending the night with my older sister and roommate, Karen. (I was the youngest of three girls and friend sleepovers were highly routine). “Your sweet momma would bring you a cup of coffee in bed to wake you up for school.” Of course I remember this fondly; the habit originated by her coaxing me to sit up, offering me a sip from the mug she carried with her. And then our friend wrote, “you were in second grade!”

I laughed out loud! And that’s not the end of the story! Joni went on to write how she had successfully implemented the routine with her own daughter who was “not a morning person.” So much love in this story. Maggie cherished her role as a wife, mom, and homemaker, only stepping into the work-outside-the-home world, when it was time to fund college for her daughters.

I did question my own life-long attitude toward what I deemed as her over-attention to my dad’s needs the evening I witnessed him use his last waking oomph of energy to raise his head off the pillow and form his lips into a kiss for her. More reconciling.

Maggie told me once she wished she had become a teacher. I do so wish I had reminded her that she was. I also wish she had realized how special her play was to her grandchildren and how beautiful and talented she was.

My own definition of feminism includes the premise that a woman works to know herself and acts with confidence, unwavering from that expression. I walk toward that guiding star. I wish my mom and I had been a little better at celebrating the other’s differences. I wish I had picked a little less and better understood how special she was while she was still here. I guess, at this point, the best I can do is pause and celebrate Maggie, a woman who loved big, in her way.

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  1. What a fabulous tribute to your Momma! I am glad you could see what I saw in her and now I see how God gives us each other opportunities to show us that we can never stop growing no matter what season of life we are experiencing. Our mothers just did what came natural and nurturing was at the forefront. I loved going to your home and experiencing what it would be like to have sisters since I had were three older brothers! A God wink❣️

  2. Wow! I teared up. Daggone you Debi. Ha. Seriously I also experienced several of the items you mention. Recall you three girls were the first kids within bike riding distance to play with. Was at your house so Maggie mattered to me. I didn’t want to disappoint her.

    I do recall some of your “rebellious” actions, but you were so pretty they seemed to get overlooked. Or maybe being the last of three, you benefitted from the “just throw up the hands”! LOL

    Well written my friend.

  3. Love you all! I sure had many popcicles after Junior church! Especially on those really hot days in that church!

  4. I am in tears. Maggie loved.
    Thank you for sharing.


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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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