"The women before me held up the sky and that makes me really proud. It gives me the perspective and aspiration of what I’m capable of."
MERRITT ON RAISING HER DAUGHTER (3)
PORTLAND, OR | USA
Lady wolves and knowing your origin story
My story is that I come from pioneer women. I stand on the shoulders of twelve to fifteen really strong pioneer women, one of whom was my great-great grandmother who landed in Ashland, Oregon and settled there to raise her family. In the next generation, great grandmother Sally Million left Ashland for Seattle where she married Dr. Hedges, and where my grandmother was born. He ultimately died from radiation poisoning after x-raying countless patients unprotected. Before he died, Dr. Hedges bought a piece of land on Whidbey Island with a few other families and they called it Sandy Point. My grandmother used to talk about being one of the first families that had land purchased directly from Native Americans, and the old Native lady who lived on the hill, who she used to bring berries to. She would talk to me about the importance of the law of nature. “Dirt, that’s the magic stuff. You put in a seed and out comes a tree,” she would say. She would catch fish for breakfast and forage blackberries for lunch because she loved to be in nature. She was fierce and was able to navigate a really traumatic life eventually having five children, one of whom is my mom. We have always rallied around the legacy of my grandmother who was the embodiment of wild woman nature. She was truly a Lady Wolf and my daughter is part of this old wild pack.
I believe to know who you really are, you have to learn where you come from. You have to understand that lineage and the strong people who have made it against all odds. The women before me held up the sky and that makes me really proud. It gives me the perspective and aspiration of what I’m capable of.
Nature and Nurture
My daughter came into this world fully baked with a personality that has nothing to do with me. She definitely has a cellular memory of something that I can’t put my finger on. She picks a ukulele and taps her foot and strums in a way that is uniquely her, starting at 2 yrs old. The best I can do right now is to love her and give her experiences of her natural world that will stimulate her mind.
One day when I was watching her play alone, I overheard her disciplining her doll, “This is not funny!” very sternly. I realized that everything that I say becomes her internal monologue. It’s such an overwhelming experience to consider the responsibility of that. While she’s uniquely herself, she’s learning every little intonation of my speech pattern and my language. I’ve started to have her recite “I am beautiful. I am confident. I am kind. I am happy. I am loving.” I keep repeating it to her as I face her in the bathtub. Kids need repetition to truly learn, so this is my antidote for all the time I lose sight of my own self worth. I hope that she will grow up with a confidence that will guide her dreams, vision, and happiness in this life.
Choosing gender neutral content
Growing up, I was exposed to one too many princess tales. I am actively trying to not encourage those gender stereotypes with my daughter, and rather just give her a safe home where she can simply be who she is. That manifests through the books that we read and kind of content we consume, or the clothes we offer her. Different ways and activities that don’t revolve around manufactured products or goods. Choosing coloring books that are about nature instead of Disney princesses, for example. In the footsteps of my grandmother, I like to spend time in outdoors with my daughter, teaching her to ask permission of the the plants instead of just picking the flowers first, or by asking her to respect the spiders that have woven a web in the leaves. I want her to realize the beautiful and dynamic world she lives in, is to be respected.
Matriarchal society and buried seeds
When we teach our children how to live in this life, we are planting the seeds of how we’re going to survive as a species. I believe women have silently controlled that power of culture primarily from the shadows of home for many years. The culture that we’re living now is slowly shifting from a patriarchal to a matriarchal society. The confluence of politics with the repressed American anger in our cultural psyche, has brought forward the worst of our leadership values. Because of that energy, the culture of female leadership has been ignited. We are on the verge of witnessing this incredible revolution of power to combat these dark policies that are segregating cultures, families, protected nature, and the voting majority. The beautiful resilience of women raising new leaders in this country is awe inspiring. I am particularly struck by the incredible signs we’ve seen hand drawn through many protests,
“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” - Mexican Proverb
I know my grandmother is marching with me as I continue to teach my daughter about the magic of dirt.