Will my child have a mother?

Growing up, I knew who my mother was. She was the center of my world, a single parent who never made me wonder why I didn’t have more than one around regularly. She mommed me enough for two or more parents. In fact, to this day I not only wish her a happy mother’s day, I wish her a happy father’s day as well. She covered all the parenting I could have ever wanted and then some.

As my husband Justin and I consider parenthood in the coming years, I have begun to wonder. Even with two of us, will my child have a mother? What is a mother? I think my mom is more than the person who gave birth to me. She is the one who raised me, guided me, protected me, and prepared me to be an adult in the world.

Though, the more I reflect on having a child, the scarier it is to me. Part of my heart already belongs to Justin, with all the risks and wonders that comes with that. To impart more pieces to a child seems to be the most incredible gamble of all. More than that, to have responsibility for raising someone into an adult human being that will make decisions about so many things in their lives based on what I have said or more likely, what I have done in spite of what I’ve said. The idea seems ridiculous to me, and yet, I want to place that bet and see the person we could create.

But, will my child have a mother? Currently we are envisioning the two of us being all the parents involved. I’m not sure I know how to be a mother, nor do I have much idea about how to be a father. My mother was both, and neither. She was a person to be counted on, someone who I trusted and who I believed had my best interests at heart. Except for a few years around the age of 16, in those years I was convinced she was going out of her way to ruin everything and make my world a living hell… but other than those couple of years, I’ve always believed she is on my side and doing all she can for me. Was she my mother? Yes, but I believe she would have been my mother had she adopted me or if she came out to me as male-identified. She would still by my mum.

So it seems to me that motherhood is a relationship, a verb as much as it is a noun. Being a mother is also an identity that is, in part, bestowed by the children in our lives. When they look for the person in the room they call mom. When they come running after a bad dream. When they sing in the school play and look out into the audience. Their actions and their naming you “mom” is what seals the deal.

So, will my child have a mother? I’m not really sure. But I do know my child will have someone they can look for in times of fear as well as joy. I will do all I can to help them find their way through life and they will know unconditional love of not one but two parents. Part of the answer to my question depends on how my child sees both of their parents. Will we be dads? Moms? Rents? Some other name I cannot even imagine? That is an answer I cannot wait to find out.

Delivered as a pre-sermon reflection during the Mother’s Day service at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis on Sunday, May 8, 2016.

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Humanism at the National Level

Presenters:

  • Introductions: Kristin Wintermute, Executive Director of the Humanist Institute
  • The Story of the Humanist Institute: Carol Wintermute, Co-Dean & Class 1 Alumna of the Humanist Institute
  • The Impact of the Humanist Institute: Kevin Watson, Class 17 of the Humanist Institute

Location:

First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, www.firstunitarian.org

April 29, 2012

Slides & Resources:

Description:

Carol Wintermute, past Director of Religious Education at FUS shares the history of Humanist Institute began, how the Humanist Movement has changed over time, and where it is going today. Kevin Watson, FUS member shares from his experiences as a current student and the work this program has inspired him to do. The goal of this Sunday was to connect the work of the Society to the foundations it has laid and the work happening today at the national level. Our community helps sustain the work of the Humanist Institute and directly benefits from the Humanist Leaders it helps to shape. The Humanist Institute exists to equip humanists to become effective leaders, spokespersons, and advocates in a variety of organizational settings, including within the humanist movement itself. Come learn more about the Humanist Institute and First Unitarian Society’s unique place in its history, as well as its future. Find out more at www.HumanistInstitute.org.

Humanism 101: What Non-Theists DO Believe

Presenters:

  • Casey Magnuson, Hamline University Multifaith Alliance
  • Kevin Watson, staff member, Hamline University

Location:

Interfaith Youth Day of Service – A Diverse Day of Service Learning and Sharing
Great Expectations: Our Communities, Our Future

by Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition
February 20, 2012

Slides & Resources:

Description:

Learn about people who don’t hold supernatural beliefs. Learn more about words like Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, Unitarian Universalist, & Naturalist. Find out what these individuals do believe and the communities they create and participate in. You might be surprised to learn how many names you know are in fact Humanists!

E-mail EQ: Tips to Tap the Emotional Brain

Presenters:

  • Cary Lenore Walski, Technology Education and Outreach Coordinator, MAP for Nonprofits
  • Kevin Watson, Communications Coordinator, Alumni Relations, Hamline University

Location:

MCN’s 25th Annual Conference
Great Expectations: Our Communities, Our Future

by Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
October 6, 2011

Slides & Resources:

Press & Reviews:

Description:

Just in time for the holiday campaign season, we will examine how to craft donation appeals that tap into the “emotional” brain of donors. Recently published psychological research has yielded surprising results about what does, and does not motivate people to give when they receive an e-mail from a nonprofit. Attendees will learn simple strategies to optimize both the look and language of e-campaigns to leverage the unintuitive insights yielded by research on how people think and behave online. There will also be time for Q&A to discuss more technical questions and concerns the audience has about e-mail marketing.

It Matters How We Communicate: Choosing Between Paper, Electronic and Social Media to Connect with Congregants

Presenters:

  • Kathy Brutinel — First UU Church, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Kevin Watson — First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Chris White — UU Fellowship, Ames, Iowa
  • Ben Stallings — Prairie Star District staff

Location:

It Matters What We Believe
Annual Conference 2011

Des Moines, Iowa
by Prairie Star District

April 8-10, 2011

Resources:

Description:

This workshop will be a panel discussion about how churches have engaged their congregations through newsletters, orders of service, websites, electronic mailings, Twitter and Facebook. What options did they consider? What works and what is problematic? How much volunteer and staff time is involved? Come and hear how other churches are dealing with how to communicate cheaply and effectively.

It Matters How We Communicate

Post 22 of 40 of the Humanist Lent Writing Project

This weekend is the Prairie Star District of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Annual Conference in Ames, IA. I will be part of a panel called It Matters How We Communicate and speaking about my experience as a Communications Coordinator for a large UU church.

I’m excited to hear the questions and have some conversations about how to do communications in a rapidly changing environment. The information I plan to share goes beyond churches, I tend to focus on nonprofit organizations in my freelance life through www.AidanWebServices.com and I feel these tips work well for smaller organizations or businesses.

Website Advice:

  • Make it easily updated and don’t invest in a design for a lifetime, invest with a plan that it will need to be done again in 3-5 years (closer to 3 if you want to stay current).
  • I strongly recommend using WordPress.com or WordPress.org. This platform allows you to get a site up quickly, has a professional look and feel, and is easily updated by people without knowledge of html or programming languages. WordPress.com is easier to do, WordPress.org gives you more options and control.
  • Use Google Analytics (more on this below).

Social Media:

  • Facebook first, then the rest. If you are going to do social media and don’t know where to start, Facebook has the largest audience and the most functionality. It will change at the whim of Facebook but it will change for everyone.
  • Make a Page, not a Group.
  • Get a short URL for your Page (i.e. facebook.com/yourorgname). You can’t change it, so think about it first.
  • Once you start it, keep content going up there at least weekly.

Digital Communications:

  • Less is more. In  both design and content, I tend towards as simple as possible. If you need to have lots of text in a digital newsletter, try having a lead sentence or two and a link to the whole story on your website or blog.
  • Email Newsletters: www.constantcontact.com or www.mailchimp.com. They are simple to use, affordable, and you get a nice end product with the ability to track open rates and clicks.
  • DON’T BCC your email list to send out your newsletter. This leads to your organization being labeled as spammers and is difficult to fix (I know, it happened to an org I worked with once).

Print Communications:

  • Less is more, less is more, less is more. Sunday Bulletins, Print Newsletters, Brochures. All of these should be a concise as possible. Just a bit about a select few programs happening, stories of success, and then how to find out more online. Or better yet, how to get in touch with a real person to have a conversation.

Office IT:

  • Google Apps (www.google.com/apps). You can have email set up to @yoursite.org, along with google’s powerful suite of tools (docs, calendar, chat, and more) for free. Your whole organization can be running them anywhere they have an internet connect.
  • Cloud File Storage. If at all possible ditch the office file server for www.dropbox.com or www.box.net. This is an easy way to keep your files backed up, shareable with colleagues, AND accessible form multiple and computer with internet access. Also copies of the files stay on your computer as well so if you don’t have internet access you can make changes and they will sync when you get online again.
  • Analytics. Track what is happening with your communications. With your email newsletters and facebook page you can easily track how many people open, click, or “like” your organization.
  • Google Analytics. Also free, a GREAT product for accurately tracking visits and activity on your website.

These are my starting points, I also plan to talk about Branding and why I think it is important even for small nonprofits and I’m sure individual questions will take me in other directions as well.

Other ideas? Feel free to add on in the comments!

Beyond Welcoming Churches: Faith Organizing with Non-Christian Identities

coexist
Image credit: andy-pants.deviantart.com

Presenters:

  • Becky Saltzman & Kevin Watson

Location:

5th Annual Minnesota OUT! Campus Conference

by Minnesota GLBTA Campus Alliance
November 13, 2010

Slides & Resources:

Description:

There is often a tension when people of faith are out when organizing within LGBT communities, this can often also be the case when a person is out as LGBT in faith communities and organizing within them. How does one do their work when they are the minority in both of these settings? In this workshop we hope to discuss what happens when a person identifies as LGBT as well as a person of non-Christian faith. Much of the hostility towards people of faith within LGBT communities comes from the extremists within each religion, but because of this many groups, especially on college campuses, solve this issue by ignoring and removal religion from their programming. This can create an unwelcoming feeling for those that feel the need to leave their faith identity at the door, especially when they are a non-Christian faith.

We hope to address the idea that religion and spirituality can invigorate and center one’s organizing depending on how it is done. We hope to show and validate that one can be queer and spiritual and work with those that may not have the same beliefs as us without discounting faith work. We also hope to call out the intersection between faith organization and other social justice organizing including LGBT and how denial and hostility towards the existence of the intersection in -some- organizers can hurt our movements as a whole. Lastly we want to discuss how to work as a queer person of faith who is not part of this culture’s dominant religious tradition. For too long we’ve been a community that works for change in secular society and often shut down conversation around the spiritual areas of our lives.

This discussion can be a place to speak to our whole selves and how bringing all of who we are to the table creates a more powerful and effective movement.