I like my women fierce. Fierce and scrappy. Except my daughter. Because she is fierce and scrappy, and it’s awfully hard parenting an apple that did not fall far from the tree. She continues to amaze me with her capacity for empathy, her astute observational skills, and her sharp intuition. I continue to underestimate her in so many ways.
I do wonder what paths she’ll choose to meander down through different times of her life. I wonder if she’ll consistently root for and support the underdog. I wonder if she’ll always just do what she needs to in order to get by. I wonder if she’ll fight for the passions and causes she finds dear to her heart. I wonder if I’ll ever really understand her. I wonder if her ferocity and scrappiness will land her in as many quandaries as I’ve found myself in through the years.
A friend recently told me about a fierce, scrappy woman who, in her quandaries, helped contribute to the founding of our national culture—a nation shaped by her ferocity and scrappiness. Anne Hutchinson is celebrating her 425th birthday with a five-day affair that spans Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York; because she is one of America’s original Founding Mothers.
Momma Hutchinson was a Puritan outcast and she was instrumental in shaping our nation’s path towards three freedoms we contemporary Americans hold dear—namely, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom from gender-defined leadership roles.
She was fierce in her convictions and resilient in not only her survival, but in her thriving, as she raised a family of fourteen.She was also a prominent midwife. She was deeply religious, and became both inspirational and popular. Many argue she was the prototypical feminist, as she forged a new trail for women in ministry.
Over time, naturally, her spirituality and power through her popularity became a real threat to local leaders. Eventually she was charged with behavior unbecoming of her sex—among other charges. As she was tried, she refused, calmly and intelligently, to waver in her confidence and convictions. Her defense in that infamous court case is legendary. She was cast out of Boston by an all-male panel of judges. So naturally, she went on to have a hand in founding a settlement that became Portsmouth, Rhode Island.
She was unusual not only for her times, but for a woman in any time (except perhaps Hillary Clinton and whomever follows). Today, a statue of Founding Mother Anne Hutchinson stands strong on the grounds of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
I may take my daughter to the celebration that begins July 20, 2016, which includes an address by the Honorable Mr. Michael Dukakis (who pardoned Mother Anne in 1978 while Governor of Massachusetts) and several opportunities to learn more about Mrs. Hutchinson’s strength, life, and contributions. We could use more fierce leadership in this nation. And I could stand to use reminders that one fierce and scrappy young woman can stand strong, and change the world in positive ways, in important ways.
They say behind every good man, stands a good woman. And so behind every good nation, stands a good woman. And behind every good woman, stands a good, and exhausted mother.