***A huge thanks to my good friend Wry Catcher for her great questions that really made me think. You're awesome, and I look way forward to meeting you in Paris in a couple weeks!
Q: What was the best thing about your life growing up? The worst? If you could go back and change one thing about your childhood, what would it be? Why?
A: The best thing about my life growing up was having so many siblings, they're awesome. I was particularly close to my brother who's a year older than me ~ he was my best friend always, although I've got other siblings now whom I consider best friends in addition to him (now that I'm making the effort to get to know them better and be a better sister). I remember as a teen asking my mom why we had to have 8 kids in our family, complaining about how it made me miss out on some things due to lack of money, and she asked me a question I never forgot: "Which of your brothers or sisters would you like me to get rid of so you can have the life you want?" Wise, wise Madre. None, of course.
The worst thing about my life growing up was my Dad's behavior. He was often emotionally and physically abusive. I don't think he was a very happy person, and this was a continual problem in our family. A big problem. It was a happy place the five days he'd be gone doing the traveling salesman thing, but the second he walked in the door, we were walking on eggshells and uptight and unhappy until Monday morning rolled around and he hit the road again, when we'd heave a collective sigh of relief.
If I could go back and change one thing about my childhood, it'd be to get my dad on Prozac before he ever had children. I think my mom would have really benefited from this ~ we all would have. He's taken it since I've been an adult and it's like night and day, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He needs Prozac like most people need air to live. I'd wish for this because I think it would have prevented many of the extremely hurtful things that happened that make many of his children not care to have a relationship with him now as adults. And perhaps he'd love himself more too.
Q: Are you a feminist? What does that word mean to you? Why?
A: I consider myself a budding feminist because I'm so new at thinking thoughts that may be considered feminist. The word feminist to me means any person, male or female, aware of the inequality females suffer in the world, who wishes to change it to actual equality. Having grown up in a church that thrives on a very patriarchal system, and having assumed this was the way God wants it, has skewed my views a lot, I think. When I stepped away from the church and looked at it with open eyes, I see very well how harmful such a system can be, especially for girls, although I honestly think that systems that favor men are also harmful for men. I recognize that most societies in the world are patriarchal in nature, and I seek to learn more and raise awareness and be a proponent for women and their right to be treated with equality in all areas of life. I've read one book so far that touches on feminist issues within America by describing the lives of a handful of women in the early 1960s, and I recommend, yea, even DEMAND that you all read it. It changed me in a very good way. "The Women's Room" by Marilyn French. Gluby recommended it and it's well worth it.
Q: What is the best thing about your marriage? The worst? What one thing would you change?
A: The best thing about my marriage is the commitment we both feel to support our children in their interests. We are both at every school function, sports event, choir concert, musical program, girl scout parent meeting, soccer game, open house, parent-teacher conference, spelling bee. I am glad we have been able to do this, since I didn't always have my parents at my functions and sometimes I felt their absence (although I do understand why they couldn't always be there since having 8 kids poses logistical problems).
The worst thing about my marriage is a lack of communication. I need to learn to communicate better without a doubt. I avoided confrontation like the plague as a child, and that is still my tendency now, but sometimes things must be discussed. If I could change one thing, it would be to have much better and more open communication, even of the non-confrontational variety. I'd like to be able to talk more together at all.
Q: If you could forcibly (but not damagefully lol) instill ONE THING permanently in each of your children (specific to each of them), what would it be?
A: I'd have to say that I'd instill the same thing in each of my children if I could ~ it wouldn't be a different thing for each. I'd like each of them to have a true sense of self-worth, a deep down knowledge that they are just fine as they are, and that they are amazing and unique and wonderful no matter what. I would have them be comfortable in their own skin so that they aren't worried what others think of them, and so that they are comfortable standing up for those things they know are right. I want them each to be so comfortable with who they are, that they can allow others around them to be who they are too. This is priceless to me. I would want them to shine and blossom and thrive knowing that they are good and worthy and amazing no matter what they pursue. To me there is nothing more beautiful than a person who loves themselves enough to follow their dreams and who is therefore supportive and encouraging of others who do the same. I want them each to be able to feel completely free to live their lives without fear and without apology.
Q: If your dad would really listen to you, AND hear what you had to say, for 10 minutes straight, what would you really want him to know? What would you most like to hear from him? Same thing for your mom?
Dad: I love you. But I don't respect you or like you very much. The way you conducted yourself while we were growing up hurt in ways you may never be able to know unless we seek professional help, which I know you will not do. I think that would be a good thing for you, and for us all. I recognize that who you are stems in large part from how you were raised, and from depression that is likely clinical/biological in nature...so I try to be understanding even when it's very difficult. I am saddened that you worry more about what the church would have you do regarding my apostasy from the church, rather than listening to or talking with me about what I feel. I wish we had communication beyond your generic birthday and anniversary greetings that go out to the entire family including all the aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts and uncles I don't even know...and I also wish to heaven that you'd quit attaching the most hideous old photos you have in your considerable archive to those emails. I also want to talk about why I had Eric walk me down the aisle at my wedding, instead of you. That memory hurts me now that I think about it as a parent and we should probably discuss this.
What I'd most like to hear from him is why he keeps an abandoned house (since 1996) here in my hometown, and why when he comes to mow the weeds there (because the city threatens to do it for him and charge him $300) he refuses to stay at my house or my sister's and instead he camps out there with no water, electricity, or heat/air, even if it's over 100 degrees that weekend. Strange. I'd also like to hear what his second wife wrote in her letter that she left when she killed herself.
Mom: I love you. You were the glue that held our family together during those difficult years. I have no idea how you remained sane with that many children when you had so little support, money, or hope. I have always admired your open acceptance and thoughtfulness. You have always supported me in what I have chosen to do, and for that I will always be your biggest fan. You went with me to Lamaze classes when I came home pregnant from BYU. You held me and listened when I was devastated by how my best friends rejected me in third grade. You taught me how to write. You supported my dream to be an exchange student, even though we couldn't afford such a huge thing. You gave me a sense of drama (*insert wry smile* yes, I enjoy my drama even if I tease you about yours). Your poise under pressure is amazing. Your love is the closest to unconditional I've ever experienced.
I'd most like to hear from you your favorite poem. You are so good at reading words and making them sound great. Of course, your voice is so soothing that you could make the worst words sound like poetry. Which brings me to my second good question...why have you never opened your own 1-900 number?? You'd have made it big, I swear it's true. ;) I'd also most love to hear your memories and stories of childhood and of your parents.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about yourself? Your least favorite? What one thing are you falsely modest about?
Hmmm. My favorite thing about myself is a tough one. I've been thinking about this for some time and am having a hard time thinking of what to say. I must say my favorite trait is my genuine interest in other people. It makes me happy to hear people's stories, to delve into what makes them tick, and to enjoy them for who they are. I hope that I'm accepting and understanding (although sometimes I fall short, I know) and I think that has been improving lately by leaps and bounds. People fascinate me and give me great joy. I truly love people.
The least favorite thing about myself is my penchant for procrastination. Holy crap, do I wish I didn't procrastinate. Can I blame this on being ADD?
I'm often falsely modest about my art skills. I don't usually say it, but yeah, I think my art is pretty good. You can judge for yourself by clicking the links under "My Art" in my blogroll. Now you can't call me "falsely modest" anymore, can you? And if you saw my price list, you'd perhaps not call me falsely modest either. I charge a lot for my greatness. :)