Dixie Darr

Mothers of Invention (not you, Frank Zappa)

In creativity on May 12, 2017 at 7:16 am

Please don’t wish me happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. I’m not a mother and never wanted to be one except to my various cats over the years, and we celebrate privately.

This can be a painful day for some of us without children, even if we chose that status. Remember there are also thousands (millions?) of women who have lost children or who were never able to have them despite their intense desire, fervent prayers, and modern technology.

Instead, I’ll choose to honor these women. Call them my spiritual mothers if you must.

Harriet Tubman – an American slave who escaped and became an abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the Civil War. She may become the first woman to appear on our $20 bill, doubtful under the current administration, but still refuses to smile in any of her photographs.


Rachel Carson – an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring spawned the global environmental movement. Her writings led to a nationwide ban on DDT and to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Probably spinning in her grave.


Rosa Parks – her act of defiance in refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man led to her becoming the First Lady of Civil Rights. Throughout her life she insisted that the struggle for justice was not over and there was more work to be done. Boy was she right.


Jane Jacobs – an author, journalist, and activist whose book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities sparked a revolution in urban studies. Her focus on how cities served their inhabitants instead of architects and designers brought a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She’s the reason I want to study urban design in my next life.

Gloria Steinem – a writer, activist, and trailblazer for the feminist movement in the 1960s and 70s. She co-founded Ms. Magazine and the Women’s Media Center, an organization that works “to make women visible and powerful in the media.” When I grow up I want to be Gloria Steinem.

Bishop Karen Oliveto – the first openly gay bishop in The United Methodist Church. Her territory, the Mountain Sky Area, covers Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah and a small portion of Idaho. My bishop and a woman whose warmth and wisdom continues to win over her misguided detractors. It’s 2017, people. Grow up.


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