Monday, January 10, 2011

At the Center

Makes sense to start in the middle doesn’t it? From this point in 1972  I can weave back and forth across the memories.
Graduation Day, June 1972 – that pivotal event is a good starting place.
How did a 36 year old mother of three end up on this stage? I tell a detailed version of the story in Pushing Boundaries .
Influenced by Betty Fridan’s new book, The Feminine Mystique, and a need to find myself, I decided to go back to college. Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross was a small Catholic girls college that reminded me of my elementary school days when I boarded at Sacred Heart Academy in Belmont, NC. It seemed like a safe haven - a quiet place for prayer.
I called that wrong. It was safe – but it was not isolated from the social and political turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s – when women were finding their voice and students were active in political protests against the Vietnam War. There was not a quiet college campus in the United States as students nationwide joined in.
As I emerged from my kitchen into the world I first became involved in the anti-war movement. Then a  new Women’s Studies class at Dunbarton opened my eyes to women's issues. Soon  I was attending NOW gatherings and meeting weekly with a women's Conscious Raising Group. 
I found my real niche as an activist in the women artists movement.
Karen, Robin, Mom, the graduate, and Jimmy
My children stood by as “mom” received her  diploma – as I would later watch as they each graduated from college. We laughed that day about  the novelty of "mom, the graduate and her kids."
If you are thinking there was a cadre of other mothers in my class – or at the college – as there are today – think again. There were two of us in my class - - and only three in the college. 1968 – 1972 was a little before the onslaught of women returning to college.
My husband Jim also stood by as I received my degree that day – just as he stands by me today.

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