• Shawn Brimley's widow Marjorie accepts plaque with her children at DC think tank
    New Perspectives

    Shawn’s Wife

    Last week, I went downtown and spoke at an event in Shawn’s honor. It was a beautiful and deeply important night, and I was so glad that my entire family could be there. Over a hundred other people showed up as well. Those in attendance talked to me about Shawn’s life, our children and how much he had meant to each of them. It was perfect, but it was also difficult. It was difficult because I was reminded yet again that he’s no longer in this world. But when I reflected on it a few days later, I realized it was difficult for another reason as well: I am no…

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley lighting candles for birthday party in DC backyard
    What Not to Say

    Why I Might Have to Stop Reading “Mommy Blogs”

    I’ve always loved “mommy blogs.” These blogs, where writers discuss the (sometimes hilarious) ups and downs of being a mom, often validate how I feel – overworked, under-appreciated, and just really, really tired. When my kids were babies, mommy blogs were what kept me at my paid job when I thought I might quit. The things I read made me realize that most other moms felt like I did and that we were all just doing the best that we could. But God, I can’t read half of them anymore. I just finished an article about a working mom in which the author discusses how she does so much more…

  • Image of gavel and book to represent Kavanaugh hearings and Marjorie Brimley's grief over missing Shawn
    Missing Shawn

    The Feminist in Our House

    Last week on Thursday, I took 55 kids down to Capitol Hill where we met with members of Congress and observed everything that was going on outside of the Kavanaugh hearings. It was an incredible day – my students were thrilled to learn more about the process and to be downtown at such an important and history-making moment. I came back exhilarated. An hour later, I was crying in the bathroom. Thank God we have private staff bathrooms where I can compose myself, because I’m not totally sure how I would have explained my emotions to my students. Did the hearings bring up all sorts of feelings for me? Yes.…

  • Two photos of Marjorie Brimley's parents and husband before the death of her mom and Shawn
    Things That Suck

    20 Years

    Two decades ago, a woman I barely knew shook me awake. I was staying with a friend on one of my days off as a camp counselor, and I had gone to bed early only to be awoken at dawn by my friend’s mother. “Your father is on the phone,” she said to me. I was disoriented, but went to the kitchen to pick up the phone. “Hello?” “Marjorie,” my dad said.  I knew something was wrong immediately by the tone of his voice.  And then he said the words that would change my life forever. “Your mother killed herself last night.” “No,” I said, “no, no, no!” I fell…

  • Brimley children and Grant sitting on steps in Washington DC

    The First Day of School

    I missed my kids’ first day of school last year.  My hometown of Albany, Oregon was one of the best places to see the total solar eclipse of 2017 and so instead of walking my kids to their first day of school, I watched the eclipse with my dad and sister.  I don’t regret it, because it was amazing.  But it meant that Shawn did the first day of school by himself.  He was a capable father, so this wasn’t a huge deal, and he texted me photos of the kids walking to school with their friends that morning. I don’t have our text exchange saved, but I do remember…

  • Shawn and Marjorie Brimley on their wedding day

    An Anniversary of Sorts

    Shawn and I were married when I was 25 and he had just turned 27.  Back home in small-town Oregon, many of my friends were already married by 25.  But my friends outside of my hometown were somewhat scandalized.  At some point during our engagement, I overheard one friend ask another, “how long have they actually even known each other?”  Another dear friend of mine asked me, “are you sure you want to marry Shawn?  Like, for the rest of your life? You’re only 25!”  None of these people really knew Shawn.  They only knew that I was deciding to get married at a fairly young age. But everyone who…