Aria Rockwood


Aria Rockwood, 31
Lives: Salt Lake City, Utah

Aria Rockwood did not have the typical upbringing. Born to a polygamist father but raised by a single mother in a native American culture called Aho Mitakuye Oyasin, which means “for all my relations” in Lakota, she has experienced many sides to life.

These days Aria Rockwood lives in Salt Lake City with her two children and her loving husband. She tutors math, a topic she adores, and is always striving to better understand herself: as a mother, as a teacher, as a woman.

You have had a very interesting life so far! How do you answer when people ask you what you do and who are you?

Good question. I feel like that’s actually at the core of what I’m working through in my life right now. I am always trying to find out what is the most important part of myself, each week I ask myself questions like, ‘What have I been most passionate about this week?’

But usually I would just answer with ‘I’m a mother.’ That’s one of the most defining parts of myself and what fills my time and my mind. And I’m a maths teacher, a private tutor for math.  I really love to be outdoors and am passionate about dance.

Aria and family hiking the Uintahs

Aria and family hiking the Uintahs

What are some of the questions that youve been posing to yourself in this week thats just gone?

I’m finding myself at a point in my life where I’m trying to figure out how to change various things internally and in my personal life that have been difficult for a while. A lot of that comes down to my acceptance of the differences between male and female and feminine and masculine and what that means for me and my role as a mother.

How do you find being a mother?

I love it so much. I appreciate that every day is unique with shifting challenges. Though I also find myself really looking forward to that hour and a half of teaching that I get to do every day because it’s different and I can use my adult brain again.

But I just love the purity and the excitement and the energy of my children. I didn’t ever think I even wanted children when I was younger because I didn’t love babysitting. But when they say it is different with your own, it’s so true.

Whats the biggest change that youve noticed in yourself since becoming a mum?

It’s forced me to be comfortable with always being needed. I feel like it has helped me to be outward thinking on a constant basis. It wasn’t until my son was a year and a half that I really became really comfortable with even being ‘just a stay at home mum,’ when I just submitted to saying, ‘My life isn’t all about me.’ That sounds so selfish.

Now I’ve entered that phase of figuring out how to not have my whole life be about someone else and how to finesse that line and that balance between giving and being present for myself as well.

Aria's family and some of the Aho community at a fall long dance

Aria’s family and some of the Aho community at a fall long dance

I want to talk a little about your upbringing because its such an interesting story. Do you want to talk broadly about your childhood, about what you remember from growing up?

I was raised in a home with an older sister, a younger brother and my mum who was always a single mum. My mum was very into exploring different cultures and different religions. Mostly different cultures as she’s not very religious. So, we were raised in a native American community called Aho Mitakuye Oyasin which means “for all my relations” in Lakota.

It’s about letting a person show you what they’re capable of before you mold or teach them.

We would get together and have drum circles weekly and quarterly we would get together and have long dances where we’d camp for three days and stay up all night for 24 hours and just dance in a giant circle we’d made, or take our turn playing the consistent heartbeat rhythm on the grandmother drum. We had elders from a few different tribes who came and taught us songs and stories and dances of their traditions. It was a really cool experience for me and a big part of my make up or at least my resolve to always be learning more about and experiencing different cultures.  It was the impetus in my learning of ancestors and spirituality.


But when people ask me about my family, I’m always like which answer do I give? Do I have two siblings or do I have seventeen? I wasn’t raised with the rest of my half siblings because my dad was polygamous. He had two other wives and he had lots of wonderful children. My mum and him separated when I was about four and he died of cancer when I was about six so I wasn’t really raised within that lifestyle as much and don’t feel it defines much of my experience, though I am so grateful to have a large and loving support system from my siblings.

What values have you taken with you from the native American culture you were exposed to growing up?

In the native American community we spent a lot of time creating things. We would create the drums that we would play on and they would have a whole week where the children would learn how to stretch leather and how to sew it together. We learned and created song, drum, and dance.  I feel like from a really young age we were given a lot of freedom and independence. They trusted us.

A lot of the things that I’m working towards are specific to me, like not holding onto any resentments that I have in my marriage because I haven’t yet figured out what being a woman in this stage of life means to me.

A lot of it was based on trusting who you were and being comfortable with yourself and everybody playing off each other’s strengths. It has impacted me in a huge way especially with my own children. It’s about letting a person show you what they’re capable of before you mold or teach them.

Do you think this is what drew you to teaching?

To be honest, I ended up in teaching because I love math so much. Math, in America at least, is a subject that people quickly get frustrated with and give up on and then never develop beyond a certain level. Though now that you’ve posed that question I wonder if it is part of seeing someone learn that they are capable of something that they didn’t know they were capable of. I see that being a huge part of why I love teaching.

Aria bouldering in Saint George, Utah

Aria bouldering in Saint George, Utah

I know you also converted to Mormonism at 16, so I wanted to ask what do you think the major function of religion is? What is the appeal to human beings?

I think that this life that we’re living now has an eternal purpose. I think that the appeal for us as humans is that when we see or hear anything that reminds us of where we came from or who we are or what our purpose or potential is, it naturally attracts us as a moth to the flame.  Religion, or at least true religion, is just the way to organise large groups and to remind us of our purpose and potential in a world full of distractions and confused information; true religion offers two-way promises between us and God that help steer us back and to remember.

Have you reached your potential or are you on the journey to reaching your potential?

I am like the last in the race! I feel like I’m trying everyday to do my best but with two young screaming children, it takes unceasing effort and dedication. I know that there are a lot of things that I could do better and I’m working on them on a daily basis but I am so far from reaching my potential. But I am at least on a path that’s leading me somewhere good though I am so far from where and who I want to be.

Really? You don’t think that youre there yet?

No…Yes. [Laughs]. I mean I’m in a really good place. I have two beautiful children, a really supportive husband, a really great extended group of friends and family connections that uplift me but I feel there is this overarching goal that I’m working towards and it’s true that having that goal both humbles and lifts me because the eternal perspective helps me not be so frustrated with the things that I have to grapple with now. Does that make sense?

Yes, that makes sense. The only thing Im curious about is what this person looks like or who this person is that you want to be. Maybe if we fast forward ten years or twenty years, what is it that you’re looking to achieve? 

A lot of the things that I’m working towards are specific to me, like not holding onto any resentments that I have in my marriage because I haven’t yet figured out what being a woman in this stage of life means to me.

Even in the past two weeks I have received so much more clarity on how to finesse that balance between motherhood and work and between being a wife and being an individual. I hope that in ten years I will have so much more internal clarity about what it is that I want so that I don’t try and cling to other people to fulfill things for me. That I will be able to be content with understanding what it is that I want out of life and at peace with the waiting in the fire of the trials.

Aria enjoying the sun in Aruba with her son Espen

Aria enjoying the sun in Aruba with her son Espen

You’ve had a really interesting life, you have a happy and healthy family and youve been a great teacher to a lot of kids over the years. While youre still looking forward, do you ever take the time to look back and are you proud of what youve achieved in your 31 years?

Oh yes. Certainly. Daily. A lot of the big landmark goals I’ve had I have achieved and they’ve all made huge positive impacts in my life and given me more confidence to make better choices.  Some of the landmarks are that I double-majored at Lewis & Clark College, was captain of my Cross Country and Lacrosse teams there, served a mission in France, ran a marathon, natural births of my two beautiful children.  That’s something I feel very fortunate about is feeling proud of the choices that I’ve made.

What one piece of advice would you give to our readers?

I wish I could come up with one very eloquent answer,  I’m not too good with words, but I just wish that all women knew–because women struggle so much with identity and being confident with who we are — I just wish that all women knew that we are all capable at anything if we just work really hard at it.

Thank-you Aria!

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