Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Motherhood

Going to Seminary | Part 2

FTS Women, Color, T-Women-Collage-min

~~~Women students, staff and faculty at Fuller Seminary through the years

I thought it would be easy to move into my new Going to Seminary series. But it isn’t. Why? I think because this wasn’t an easy or seamless transition in my life.

Compared with getting married, this felt like an earthquake. A seismic shift. I didn’t understand this back then. Today I understand at least the following.

Being a Faculty Wife was a fairly low-profile role. Even though people were suspicious about women with minds and lives of their own, they were still courteous and polite to women who ‘knew their place.’

As long as I kept my head down, took care of our children and showed up at the Bible College to contribute my musical skills and presence, things went smoothly enough.

Nonetheless, sometimes I felt lost and misunderstood. Especially when I described to friends how I felt about not-so-public parts of my life. It seems I didn’t fit the pattern.

But then again, I never did fit the pattern. My father knew this and did his best to change me.

My family upbringing prepared me to survive and even flourish in the Deep South 1960s culture of the Bible College. It was all about being a proper lady, whether as a student or later as a Faculty Wife. I knew how to play the game and succeed, at least on the outside.

Now it’s 1973 and I’m on my way to seminary in California. I don’t have the home team advantage, and the seminary doesn’t have second-class expectations for women. When it comes to academic work, I have to pull my own weight.

When I take a course, D won’t take it for me. He won’t write or edit my papers. He won’t think for me.

This is a seismic shift, though I didn’t appreciate that back then. Gone is the world that groomed me to marry a good Christian man and follow him to the ends of the earth, bearing all the children he might want to beget.

Now I must stand on my own two feet and do my full share of caring for the children, cooking, and housecleaning. I must earn my own grades, write my own papers, make my own oral presentations and take my own exams.

At the Bible College, theology and Biblical studies were supposedly the domain of men like my father. Though women weren’t unwelcome intruders, they were foreigners from another planet.

Women belonged in clearly defined domestic roles, supporting their men who were doing the really important thinking and doing. If married women absolutely had to work outside the home, fine. Just don’t let it interfere with domestic duties.

At the Bible College, most men had no problem with women studying the Bible. Nonetheless, if women had questions about the Bible or theology, they should ask their husbands or their male pastors or professors. Why should they need to bother their pretty little heads with anything difficult or contentious?

As one of my theology professors at Bible College announced: “The next topic is for men; you women can ‘go pick daisies’ if you’d like.”

That didn’t mean we could leave the room; it meant we didn’t have to understand the next topic or take extensive notes about it. We could think about whatever we wished during the next half hour or so. It shouldn’t be of concern to us. The topic? The end of the world (Eschatology)!

When I was accepted into the MA in Bible and Theology, I was elated and terrified. Nine years had passed since I graduated from the Bible College. I was about 10 years older than many if not most other students in my courses. I was also the mother of two young children.

The stakes were high, no matter what I did or didn’t do with this degree. No wonder I was anxious and self-conscious. My life was about to change.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2015
Collage image thanks to http://www.fullermag.fuller.edu

Faculty Wife | Part 16

1972 Oct Columbia Bible College Sherry and Scott not to be fed

What’s a Mom to do? I empathize with park authorities who post signs like this!

Spring 1973. Things are heating up. Most days I’m not on the Bible college campus. I come when I need to. Usually for social events or occasional appointments. Now that our son and daughter are older, Read the rest of this entry »

Faculty Wife | Part 15

1972 Oct Cowboys Blocks and Trucks

…Keeping the home fires burning. That’s my hat, not yours! October 1972

By summer 1972 D knew things might not work out for him at the Bible College. I wasn’t sure they would work for me, either. Read the rest of this entry »

Photos melt my heart | Photos #1

1969 Jun Scott Trip to Beach

Photos melt my heart. Especially when they capture someone I love in a moment of truth. Read the rest of this entry »

Faculty Wife | Part 13

1972 Sep Elouise with Scott and Sherry in the art museum2

Hmmm . . . . Are we happy yet?  Rodin’s Thinker at Getty Museum , 1972

I’m sitting here looking at the title I gave this series: Faculty Wife. Was I a Faculty Wife during the four short years we were back at the Bible College? If not, Read the rest of this entry »

Faculty Wife | Part 12

1974 Mr. Rogers event ND

Time to get back to being a Faculty Wife! In case you don’t remember, we’re in the early 1970s. I’m home alone most weekdays with our baby daughter and toddler son.

I don’t know Read the rest of this entry »

Faculty Wife | Part 8

FRASER_S_0193

Wide-awake Children, Sleepy Mom, New Yamaha Piano  – August 1971

It’s June 1970. Mother has arrived and wants to be helpful. She is, and I’m grateful. I also wish I could just say, ‘No, I’d rather not have you in our bedroom right now while I’m nursing Daughter. I need to be alone with her.’

But I can’t get the words out of my mouth. She comes in and sits there watching us, trying to get a conversation going. I’m caught between guilt and despair. This feels instrusive. A familiar feeling from my childhood and youth.

I feel self-conscious. My body tenses up just when I need to be relaxed and focused on nursing Daughter. When Mom leaves to go back to Savannah, I think things will be easier. They are not.

I have no idea how to be a mother of two children in diapers. Nothing prepared me for the avalanche of non-stop diaper-changing, non-stop feeding, cooking and washing dishes, non-stop laundry plus hanging every diaper out to dry and folding every piece of clean laundry and making sure it’s in the right place, in order, so that I don’t go crazy the next time I need to use whatever it is I just put away.

Exhaustion. Mental and physical exhaustion from planning ahead, making sure I have things ready to go in the morning before the first child in diapers wakes up hungry and on go, setting the alarm early to get a few quiet minutes with myself if I can just get my feet on the floor. And now our lovely daughter is stirring.

Then there are night feedings. I almost forgot them. Blissfully quiet time with Daughter. But why don’t I have as much milk as she wants? I don’t know. Am I drinking enough water? Eating enough food? Resting enough? No. No. and No.

I thought I knew how to do this. Even with D home for most of the summer, helping as he’s able, I’m overwhelmed, undernourished and sinking. For the first time since I became a mother I’m feeling depressed, teary, and resentful. Potty training seems ages away. So does any semblance of ‘normal.’

Daughter is hungry. I get comfortable on the sofa, grateful for time to be off my feet and focused on her. Son comes along, almost on schedule, and wants to watch. No problem. Just sit right here beside me while I nurse Sister.

It seems, however, that Son wants me to watch him. He shows me things he’s doing or looking at out the window. He demands my attention. Sitting beside me doesn’t last more than a few minutes. I’m still trying to nurse Sister.

Now he’s pushing boundaries. D isn’t around, and I’m frantic. Words don’t work. A snack doesn’t even seem to help, except when his mouth is full. Now my relaxed state of mind and body are gone, and Daughter is crying for more milk than I have to give her.

I’m juggling and all the balls are dropping to the floor, bouncing into another room or disappearing under the sofa.

Now look at that. My hair is disappearing! Falling out in huge hunks every time I wash it. I’m alarmed. Sores show up inside my mouth and won’t go away. They burn every time I eat—especially pineapple or citrus.

Even worse, my milk is drying up! Daughter nurses for a few minutes, seems happy, then she’s crying from hunger. There’s nothing left. I’m frantic. Can it get any worse?

It can. The diaper pail is overflowing with stinking diapers from two children, not one. When is Son going to catch on that being potty trained is wonderful for him—not just for me?

Getting up in the morning feels like punishment. And no matter how many things I try, the exhaustion and despair don’t go away. Not even when D pitches in do some of the housecleaning, cooking and care of our children.

To be continued. . . .

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 August 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, August 1970

The Hole in my Heart

There’s a hole in my heart called Mom
Three letters missing from
my childhood alphabet soup

Empty.
I run on empty
Search for something Read the rest of this entry »

Early Marriage | Part 24

Sixties Guitar

It’s 1969, our last year in Cambridge. Viet Nam anti-war protests, riots and campus unrest. Pro-civil rights protests, riots and campus unrest. Hippies, LSD, the Beatles, Woodstock, the Jesus People Movement. Read the rest of this entry »

arms folded

P1010843

arms folded
woman deep in thought
ponders life

* * * Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: