Conversations between friends about culture and raising children turned into a book full of essays about motherhood and social justice.
By Barry Hubbell
Compiled and coedited by Melanie (Springer) Mock (G90) and Rebekah (Crover) Schneiter (G99), Just Moms: Conveying Justice in an Unjust World, published by Barclay Press, includes 27 stories by writers from California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Mock, an associate professor of English at George Fox, says the book came out of frustration. As she and Schneiter, who was assisting in the writing department at the time, watched their boys play they shared feelings about what current culture was teaching their sons: that violence is good and that stuff makes you happy. The more they talked, the more they knew they had a book to share.
“We wanted to connect with others who were experiencing the frustration we felt,” Mock says. “We hope the book will start conversations about what it means to help our children to learn the values that are important to us – peace, justice, contentment, equality.”
The book is not a how-to guide, says Schneiter. “We offer no easy solution to the hard task of teaching our children to live a selfless life.” There is no common approach. The individual stories celebrate successes and describe failures, reflecting varied approaches to parenting.
Schneiter, an Albany, Ore., resident, recalls the good relationships that developed with contributors to Just Moms during the process of editing, corresponding and rewriting. “I’m glad it’s not over,” she says. “I’m glad we’re entering the next phase where we get to start the conversation with readers.”
In addition to Mock and Schneiter, George Fox alumnae contributors to the book include Heidi (Oester) Cox (G98), Doreen Dodgen-Magee (G87), Paula (Ankeny) Hampton (G81), Marilee Jolin (G04), Amy Lutz (MA99), Lisa McMinn (SPS91), Polly (Meyer) Peterson (G89, MEd06) and Nancy Thomas (G67). Three contributors work at George Fox: Lutz is assistant professor of education, McMinn is professor of sociology, and Peterson is an adjunct writing instructor in the English as a Second Language program.
You can join in the Just Moms conversation on Facebook.
Excerpt from Rebekah Schneiter’s introduction to Just Moms
Over spring break our feisty 3-year-old notices someone the rest of us didn’t. As we sat eating our pizza on the brick steps of Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, everyone seemed oblivious to the hungry man to our left. Except for Coen. I caught him scooting his plate of pizza toward this man, who was clearly living on the streets. The man seemed uncomfortable taking food from a child. I would be, too.
I intervened, “Coen, are you wanting to give that man your pizza?”
I wanted to shout to everyone in downtown Portland: “Did you see that? Did you see my amazing son? He acted out on the prompting of God; he gave his food to someone in need. He gets it.”
Later when I asked Coen why he gave his pizza away, he stated simply, “Because he didn’t have any.”
Of course, just when I think parenting is going really well, something backfires. Like when we were driving home from our trip into Portland and Coen refused to give one fruit snack to his younger brother. I’m not going to share this particular mothering triumph with my friends, or post an update on Facebook about my son’s inability to share.
But maybe I should. Maybe that is exactly what my friend . . . needs to hear: that she’s normal, her child is normal, and her child’s current state is OK. I’m learning to hold my children’s choices and actions loosely, for they mirror my own walk with God – a rocky, cyclical journey that ebbs and flows with obedience and disobedience, confidence
For all of us, parenting is an act of faith and trust. We trust the process. We trust that the Spirit of God is at work through our shining moments and through our failures. And sometimes, we look to others for guidance, commiseration, and a sense that we are in this parenting work together – recognizing that a community of other parents can provide meaning to our efforts.