The Pioneer Woman's Club...

Reflecting on Mother's Day... part 2

Following my departure from my mother's house, I went to live with my father and his new wife. Although I definitely didn't want to be with my mother ("If you don't take me, I am running away," was my statement to my father.), I was a bit unsure about living with my father and his new wife. I mean, I was sure about living with him...but not her. I wasn't sure how I felt about her...

Let me step back a few years and give some background. My mother and father had separated years before. I have no memories of them being together, but my weekends and vacations were now spent with my father. I loved these times together. we baked bread, went camping, spent quality time together. I loved my time with him, but didn't love it when he was dating someone and I had to spend time with them. He was mine...and mine alone. I think having such a crazy mother made these moments with my father even more special and precious.

When I was 11, he met a new woman...she was young and different. They were different together. Our first outing together was over Spring Break. We went camping and river rafting. One day, as we were going through a particularly difficult portion of the river, my father put me in the second boat with a more experienced guide, while they went in the first boat over the giant hole in the river. I sat in the second boat and watched their boat go up (and up) and then flip over...only to have them not in the boat the next minute. I was father was gone! Before I knew it, they were both swimming across the river toward the shore, where we all met, cold, and soaked.

This is when things took a dad's girlfriend created "The Pioneer Woman's Club." The rest of the trip was about how we were functioning like a Pioneer Woman, making decisions, bearing the weather, not complaining when it seemed like the only thing to do. This was a turn-around moment in my life. I was an originating member of a club, that would become a bonding "organization" of the women in my family.

So, here I am, years later, a grown woman with a daughter of my own, and this woman, my dad's girlfriend who, when I was 12 became my father's wife, became a piloting force for me on the ways a mother should be. Together we weathered years when my father was traveling, feeling each other out, trying to build a bond and find our way. I am grateful because without her, I would have grown up angry and bitter, not understanding that a mother's love could guide through the hard times. She helped build the foundation for what a mother is and what a mother's love could be. The Pioneer Woman's Club, a way to deal with a whiny 11 year old so many years ago, has grown to include my sister, my cousin, my daughter, my nieces, and other random girls who may have needed grounding and foundation in the power of women. The Pioneer Woman's Club taught me how to be a sensible woman, how to work hard when I didn't want to, how to laugh during times where laughing seemed ridiculous, how to frame things for my own daughter...This crazy club, pulled out of thin air by a young woman who was desperately trying to connect with her boyfriend's daughter, because she cared about him...taught me how to be a mother and what being a mother truly means.


  1. Shannon, it sounds like your father chose an amazing woman the next time around, and you wound up with an amazing role model!

  2. Shannon,
    That is a beautiful story, and so important. It's not the BIOLOGY that matters, it's what you give to others with your heart, your thoughts, your mentoring. Those things survive and are just as real as your genes.
    Your father made a good choice with his new wife - and I'm sure he was thinking about you when he made his decision!

  3. Beautiful post, and a great follow up to the previous one. Made me teary reading it.


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