Today I strung up a clothesline in my back yard. I stretched it taut to hang my cloth diapers, and the bed linens I’ve stashed away for the past two years while we searched for our place to settle. Rooted somewhere in my long-term memory, the smell of clean, wet sheets snapping in the wind sends me in to a momentary daze. I remember sheets as tents, as hide and seek havens, as comfort, and home, and a place of dreams.
The process of hanging things with clothespins on a line also takes me to a less distant past of college days. October days where I rose early enough to catch the dew in the Georgia grass, and walked our front campus through slight fog. Often I was in shabby overalls, carting huge boxes filled with t-shirts designed by students, faculty, and staff. Survivors. Advocates. People who understood that the clothesline we hung every October gave voice to people with some amount of violence in their past or present. Domestic violence. Rape. Sexual assault. Molestation. My strong arms strung up the clothesline to pin those shirts on. My strong voice traveled to the nation’s capital to protest those things that mattered to me.
Ten years ago, my mission was to save the world. To start my own women’s shelter. To be the voice for those who had lost theirs. Ten years ago, I was a powerhouse of energy, headed to graduate school after co-founding a women’s resource center on our campus. After starting a local chapter of The Clothesline Project. After graduating Magna Cum Laude. After spending
Hanging laundry on the line brings me back to the present. Where my two boys play in my yard, and I am no longer the Wonder Woman of ten years ago. The decade has changed me; taking my identity and molding it into things I never thought I could or would be. Somehow I have become a different Wonder Woman with eight arms at once, capable of the physical strength required to bounce, carry, hold, rock, bathe, burp, and breastfeed. The one that does not gag at poop, or puke, or diarrhea. The one who sleeps five intermittent hours and arises to start all over again.
I have spent a great deal of time questioning who I am. Whether I can still be a feminist if I stay home with my children. Whether I have value if I don’t receive a pay check. And, if I do, what is that value? I have spent ages wondering what I am doing with myself, and whether the me of ten years ago still means something.
Now, I know.
I am saving the world. But on a micro-scale. I am saving the world for two boys. For the countless men, and women, and children those boys will encounter in their lives.I am tasked with teaching those boys the world, and keeping their hearts soft. I am meant to show them bystander intervention, bravery, advocacy, strength in community, and the power of the individual. I am meant to teach them love.
There are tiny souls to grow, and diapers to hang. Let us begin.