After Reading All Those Books about Being a Woman my Three Year Old Changed it all with a Sentence.

Via Meagan Morris
on Sep 15, 2013
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Some people have grandparents who were married for 75 years; some have parents who are still married—some have religion.

And some people have a litany of literary references—mostly tragic—about what life “is.”

I am that last kind of person; the girl whose compass is found in stories born mostly from sadness so heavy it had to find its way onto paper.

I was that high school kid who read Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath. At night. For fun.

When I went to college I read The Awakening — the story of a woman whose rebellion against the role of wife and mother ends in her wading out into cold ocean waters. And  I read Mrs. Bridge and I readThe Coquette — the story of how one woman’s flirtatious ways again lead to her demise. And I even reluctantly found my way to the end of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel; at the end knowing that rose colored letter had only transformed into some new symbol.

I thought a lot about Betty Friedan. About motherhood. About marriage. About the construct and concept of  “woman.”

” A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, ‘Who am I and what do I want out of life.’ She mustn’t feel selfish and neurotic if she wants her own, outside of her husband and her children.”

~ Betty Friedan

That makes sense to me.

I read Death of a Salesman and became convinced that if I finished my paper on the downfall of  Willy Lowman, I would become Willy Lowman. The American dream, even if it was real wasn’t worth it. And so I stopped writing.

“…And I looked at the pen in my hand and said to myself, what the hell am I doing, what the hell am I grabbing for in this life.”

~ Arthur Miller  Death of a Salesman

And that felt real to me—it feel reals to me.

Big ideas, that all may be real, may be true. But it doesn’t mean I should have cast aside so many ideas thinking they were all part of this ..this thing.

When I gave birth to my first son I wasn’t married. Shortly after his birth, as in maybe hours, I took a Biology exam. I was back in class within days. I wasn’t going to be that woman. I wasn’t going to be that statistic—I was going to be different.

When I gave birth to my second son, I quickly found my way back to work, and dedicated years to thinking, writing, and talking  about some of the darkest issues facing women and girls. I wasn’t going to be quiet. I wasn’t going to just look nice on the arm of my husband. I was going to be different.

I love and adore and admire and cherish my boys. But I am also a woman who believed she should never settle; a person who believed much of a woman’s fate is pre-determined by old ideas that weren’t created to serve us; a woman who believed there is something called “happiness” and that I shouldn’t have to give into norms just because they are.

And so now I am facing a—gasp, choke, take another sip of wine—divorce. And I have fortified myself in part by all of these big ideas and aspirations I discovered in the pages of books.

And this felt valid to me—until today.

During breakfast, my older son asked me if I knew what my younger son wanted to be when he grew up. I thought I had heard it all. At one point, my oldest boy once imagined himself to the head of “flip flop parade.” He once wanted to be an astronaut-clown.

So, I felt ready. And then I heard these words from my two year old’s mouth:

“When I grow up I want to be a house. I want to be a house where my dad, and my brother, and Jacky (our cat) and you (me) can live. And I will have a door. And you can come inside and you can live there.”

I broke.

When I heard those words—those innocent, pure, human words—my heart broke.

Sitting at a breakfast table force feeding myself food that I don’t really like but think I should eat. (Also choices precipitated by thoughts not entirely my own: You are not getting any younger. Something important about my figure. Incoherent thoughts about cancer and blueberries.)

Tears hot on my cheeks and words stuck somewhere between my heart and my head, I was trying to be brave. Trying to make sure he knew it was okay to feel what he felt; to make sure he knew it was safe to say what he said—and not to be totally knocked over by the fact that that is probably the thing that we all really want.

And in that moment—as strange as it might seem—I kind of felt like saying, What the fuck?; What the fuck road less traveled?; What the fuck was the point of all of those hundreds of pages and thousands of words?

What the fuck?

I am woman; I do roar. (Kind of but what does that mean anyhow? And who ever actually roars? It’s weird.)

Where in this whole thing did someone forget to tell me that family and connection are things we want at our most basic level. Things that little people want so badly they imagine themselves growing up to be a house so they have a place to put one? 

How could I forget that part? Why isn’t that in a book? That people have to read in college? 

Now here I am, with these new words echoing in my head and reverberating in my soul.

“I want to be a house…And I will have a door. And you can come inside, and you can live there.”

I don’t have a blueprint—and feel pretty sure Virginia Woolf won’t be the first person I look to to find one— but I am hoping there is one out there.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Meagan Morris

Human. Mother. Thinker. Doer.


13 Responses to “After Reading All Those Books about Being a Woman my Three Year Old Changed it all with a Sentence.”

  1. Lindsey says:

    Fabulous, honest, heart wrenching and humrous! This lis life and there is no blue print-we are all finding our own way!

  2. Ryan Estes says:

    This is the kind of content I expect from a contemplative publication. Respect.

  3. Lisa Cantarano says:

    So well done. <3 reading your work. I say fuck the blue print. The bid D is scary but I have a feeling you will learn so much about yourself and what you really want through all of this. Keep writing luv!

  4. Marie Renars says:

    Your story brought years to my eyes. You sound like a warrior who would do anything for her loved ones. Here’s one idea that may sound crazy: fight for your marriage. Nothing is irreparable with enough work and commitment. Those boys want their mom and dad and you want to give them that. Do whatever it takes and tell your husband that the boys need you and you’re committed to the family you two have created. Don’t give up no matter how hard it gets.

  5. Meg says:

    Thank you for your thoughts Marie. I will think about them.

  6. Marie Renars says:

    Meg – this may sound wild, but if you need someone to talk to about this, please email me at [email protected]. Sometimes it's easier to spill your woes to a stranger. At one time, years ago, I was at a crossroad like yours. Someone pushed me through it. Maybe it's pay-it-forward time.

  7. Monica Clark says:

    you nailed it, Meg. You completely hit upon something so true and profound. , I love your point of view and do not think you need fixing, at all. Embracing sadness allows you to feel and share joy. And that's why you cried. I totally get your story and understand a glimpse of what it is you are expressing. Wonderful and poignant*.

  8. Nan Campbell says:

    Whoa! This gave me pause this morning. As I rush about I am stopped in my tracks to contemplate this profound revelation. Thank you

  9. Chrissy says:

    "How could I forget that part? Why isn’t that in a book? That people have to read in college?"
    …I would love to read that book. (My college reading list sounds a lot like yours. Women roaring everywhere.) Do you plan to write that book? Has anyone written that book?

  10. Meg says:

    Wow! Thank you for all of the lovely comments and inspiration.

  11. Peg says:

    I have never felt compelled to comment on an Elephant article before and I have been following for a good long while. You have stopped me in my tracks, asked the questions that so need asking and my heart is breaking for you and your family. My boys were older when my husband of 24 years told me he was gay, and while they all seemed to take it in stride, my heart was breaking for all of us. Your children will be okay… they have a mom who asks and answers questions beyond blame, beyond pain and beyond self. Thank You so much for your words.

  12. Meg says:

    Thank you for your words, and for sharing about your own experience. I think when we realize we aren't alone it is all a lot less scary.

  13. Maia says:

    The Bell Jar… oh my gosh.

    Your article has touched me so deeply.
    I wanted to be an astronaut and a circus gymnast/trapeze walker when I was little. I also wanted a pet monkey that I was going to buy from a sailor. Now two children later and on marriage number two, and life is still a mystery to me. Life as well as divorce is an incredibly difficult thing, but it is also a very beautiful wonderful curious thing, and we as well as our children are like water that always finds its way around a rock, we find our ways to make the life for ourselves that we want.

    Thank you for sharing your words. I truly relate…