All together now:

“Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free…”

If this isn’t an anthem of sorts, I don’t know what is.

Regardless of the fact that today is July 4th, I don’t have The Star-Spangled Banner or even America the Beautiful stuck in my head. I’m thinking of the word freedom and my instant recall goes to this song: Free to Be… You and Me.

Sometimes my brother and I will still sing this to each other when we remember the time we saw it, live! And we remember the stuffy auditorium, our knees touching as we sat cross-legged on the crowded linoleum floor. I was rapt by the child actors; I was in awe of the stage, the costumes; and even then, after the final curtain, the song seemed to stay with me, it’s jaunty tune on repeat in my brain.

“You and me are free to be you and me/

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man/

In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman/”

I don’t really consider myself a feminist and yet strangely, as of late, it seems I have to explain my relationship with my husband within a feminist context. The conversation will go like this:

Other girl: “My husband has a list of things I need to do today on/at/for the house.”

Me: “Oh. Wow.”

Other girl, incredulous: “Your husband doesn’t do that?!”

Uh, no. In fact, lots of times my husband empties and loads the dishwasher as I sit in his plain view at my computer. Sometimes he has to attend to the Band-Aid placement and pleas for popsicles as I ignore the kids and write. I feel so grateful he affords me this gift of freedom to be the kind of mom I want to be, and that he supports me in my perhaps-different-from-the-neighbor-but- worthy-nonetheless paradigm. Often times he seems to set his watch by my ideas alone, and really, what the heck do I know about this parenting thing?

But he has confidence in the Me I’m trying to be, the Me I hope I am– and I’m grateful to him for it.

I’m grateful for the women who came before me, for the real feminists who fought for liberties that allow me to be complacent, to choose to be a stay-at-home mom and a plethora of other things, that may or may not include “cook” or “sweeper” (depending on the day).

I’m grateful for the people who have died in this country’s behalf. America was founded on notions similar to ideals of the Gospel– freedom, agency, and choices– and I’m grateful that people believe in these enough to fight for their preservation. I’m grateful for this blessed agency, I’m grateful we can be different, that I can do things the way that’s right for me, and you can do the same for yourself.

I’m grateful for my liberties, my opportunities to figure out my “ME” and just be it. The kind of mom I want to be, the kind of wife I want to be, the kind of Mormon I want to be, the kind of Primary Secretary and Relief Society pianist I want to be, and mostly, the kind of woman I want to be.

( Sing it sisters! “And you and me are free to be… You and me, you and me, you and me…”)

How are you free to be yourself?

What do you appreciate about your freedom?


  1. Kathryn Soper

    July 5, 2007

    I have that exact same memory–cold, hard floor, stuffy auditorium, entrancing singers/dancers onstage! I got chills when at the very end when all the kids shouted “FREE!”

    My fave line “You’re bald as a ping-pong ball.”

    I’m grateful that I’m free to be as goofy as God made me.

  2. Maralise

    July 5, 2007

    I was talking to a close friend the other day about the little irks of being a SAHM, the pitfalls, the irritations. And in talking to her, I had a fantastic a-ha moment. I realized that I am more than the sum of a clean house, well-behaved (or not) kids, more than a balanced marriage. I am more than all of my jobs, my responsibilities. It was so freeing because if I am more than those things, even if my hard work leads to failure in some respect, it doesn’t mean that I am a failure. I understand this is self-esteem 101, but I don’t think I had ever been able to articulate (at least since becoming a mother) that my person, my being is of value. alone. separate from what I do. separate from my image. separate from my children, my husband.

    It also helped me to understand and even appreciate some of of the mis-steps that my children make. By seeing them as more than than the sum of their bad-behavior, I can appreciate their value as humans as well.

  3. Emily

    July 5, 2007

    I think there is a profound and deep meaning to just the idea of allowing oneself to be “free.” It is the defining difference between character and personality. It is being constant. It is who you are when no one is watching and allowing that self to emerge uninhibited. Once the character overtakes the superficial stuff, we are free. We are our own worst inhibitors. We handicap ourselves with concerns of image… hair color, material possessions and other superfluous things. (of course some of these are important, we don’t want to be trailer hags) But balance is necessary. My eyes always well with tears whenever I sing the Star Spangled Banner, because it is my country, my God and my family that allow myself to emerge and be comfortable in my own skin.

  4. Emily M.

    July 5, 2007

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while (and singing that song to myself) and thinking about the relationship between work and freedom… when my husband does some of “my” work for me, it gives me the freedom to do something else. When Revolutionary War patriots fought / worked, they also gained freedom. There’s a deep correspondence between effort on one end and the resulting freedoms on the other. Practicing a lot makes you free to play the piano well, revising writing a lot frees you to publish something really good. I see those things, and yet I don’t practice much or write the way I would like to. So I’m trapped by my own laziness. Freedom is a product of work.

    And I’m grateful for those who worked so that I could be free to type this on my cute little laptop. 🙂

  5. c jane

    July 6, 2007

    Wait a minute. Did I miss out on the Free to Be song? Did I miss a big chunk of my childhood?
    I love that I have the freedom to have an opinion. I feel like I can share it freely, (even though I should keep it to myself more often.)
    Fun post!

  6. Wendy

    July 6, 2007

    If you missed out on Free to Be You and Me, you really missed out! We saw it in elementary school nearly every year I think. Michael Jackson and Marlo Thomas–woo hoo! Actually, I couldn’t remember who was with MJ, so I just googled it and was excited to find what looks like most or all of the film portions on Youtube! I have no clue how to do a real link here, so forgive this long link. This is the link to the main title song:

    The other songs/skits are in the window to the lower right. I have been wanting to watch this again, so I’m thrilled!

  7. martha

    July 6, 2007

    I grew up in rural Minnesota and knew nothing of Free to Be You and Me, maybe that’s why my husband makes me a list. I’ll have to look it up Wendy. Rural Minnesota did provide after church seminary with the ‘Free to Choose’ awesome slide show, they probably are in no way, shape, or form alike.

  8. Wendy

    July 6, 2007

    California probably had some legislation that mandated they be shown. 🙂 It WAS the mid 70’s . . . I think it lost its umph after a few years. And you’re right . . . nothing at all like Free to Choose!

  9. Brooke

    July 6, 2007

    yes, that’s true– it must be a california thing. i only saw it as retro repeat school assemblies. i didn’t know about it till at least the 80’s. but in california no less.

    it was so fun to watch the clip though (thanks, wendy!) my kids all ran up to the computer and started dancing. really is a timeless song, isn’t it? haha!

  10. Justine

    July 6, 2007

    There’s kid on that carousel that looks EXACTLY like me when I was 10. I started thinking to myself, “Am I famous? Was I a child star and not remember? How did I end up in that movie!?”

    I don’t think we saw it in school in Michigan, but I do remember it.

    I’m free to be myself with my awesome and supportive husband, my intellectually open-minded ward, my parent’s who never ever taught me there was such a thing as a “glass ceiling”, and my kids who sometimes let me ignore them so I can write. (that’s a BIG sometimes, ladies)

  11. Holly

    July 8, 2007

    Okay, now I know the song. Sorry Brooke, I couldn’t think of the tune just from the lyrics, I had to watch that clip. I thought it was funny when it would pause on one of the names of someone in the movie, but also be paused on one of the kids. It almost made me think that the kid and the name went together. Dionne Warwick was the best.

    This song really is great though. And seeing all of those kids and thinking about our freedoms at the same time really was something I could relate to as I thought about my own two little ones. I thought about how much I take our freedom for granted and what a blessing it is that we live in this great country. So many people over history have sacrificed their time and lives for us and I need to keep that fresh in my mind. Thanks Brooke, I need things like this around any holiday to help me remember what and why we are celebrating.

  12. annonymous

    July 9, 2007

    when i was a child i was not allowed to be free. i grew up during the “children should be seen and not heard” era. which resulted in “not having a voice” literally.
    i joined the church, late into my teenage years. the most marvelous feeling i had at that time was the knowledge that I have heavenly parents that loved and wanted me.
    and that very fact has been most liberating ever since.

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