Sunday, October 31, 2010

Advantages of Home-Schooling

Just to be sure you know where I am coming from, I really love public education.  I truly feel that it can do a better job at educating my kids than I can.  I never wanted to home-school my kids because teaching different kids different things all at the same time just stresses me out.  However, I always dreamed of coming up with really cool activities for my kids before the school years as well as for the summer.  I thought I'd be something like No Time for Flashcards.

Has it happened?  No, not nearly like I'd hoped, but I am getting better at it. 

During the summers, I volunteer with my kids at This Is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City.  Many of the volunteer families there are home-schooled families.  When I first learned this, my (terribly rude and stereotypical) reaction was, will they be weird like the home-schooled kids I'd heard about growing up?  No.  They were wonderful!  I'd never met such confident and responsible teenagers!  Since then, I've met other home-schooled kids that I find amazing!

One time on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood, a link was posted to an article on the Duggar family. You know, the ones with the 19/20 kids.  (I have to be honest here, I used to think people with lots of kids were crazy.  I think I picked that attitude up when I was young and started hearing people make rude birth control comments toward others with large families.  After becoming a mother, though, I have a gained a HUGE amount of respect for families who do have lots of children.  I think our Heavenly Father wants to give us as many children as we are willing to take; so, more power to you if you have a quiverfull!)

Anyway, the article said,
While, admittedly, I admire the Duggars for much of what they do, I didn’t expect what I saw in these 3 girls.  The world has yet to beat them into submission.  They don’t watch the Disney Channel, so they’ve yet to learn that adults are buffoons and parents are embarrassing.  They don’t listen to the local rock station, so they’ve yet do discover life is supposed to be one promiscuous event followed by another.  They don’t attend public school, so they’ve yet to learn teenage girls are required to be filled with angst and riddled with insecurities.
As we spoke to the 3 of them, one word kept jumping out at me:  Freedom.  These girls were experiencing freedom teenagers rarely taste.  Completely free to be themselves.  The exact opposite of the words so often used by media folk to describe the 19 kids.
I realized that if these types of families can raise these children to be so exceptional, they must be doing something right.  I don't think I need to necessarily home-school my kids to teach these things, I just need to stress these attitudes and qualities in other ways.

On a side-note, I've learned, the reason we all thought home-schooled kids were weird growing up was because they were more mature, confident, and responsible.  They could talk to adults.  We were the dorky ones following the fads.

Are the schools doing too much?

I had a recent e-mail conversation with a friend.  We both felt that school was taking over our lives.  How is there any time to do anything as a family, any lessons, any sports, any church activities when the kids are in school all day, then they have homework in the evenings?  When do they have time to play?  I don't know how people have time to put their kids in extracurricular activities.

Then I start to think about it and get slightly lazy.  I realize my child gets extracurricular activities at school:  art, sports, music, recess, lunch, socializing, fieldtrips.  I don't have to provide it for him.  I don't have to pay extra for it, either -- I've already paid for it in my taxes. 

As for field-trips, I do get slightly annoyed with them.  My son has already gone to a play and will be going to the planetarium shortly.  I'd like to take him to the planetarium myself, but when would we go?  Why would I take him if he's just gone?  I'd also have to pay for it.

What an irony!  Is the school system replacing me as a parent?  Shouldn't I be doing these things?

I realize I can.  It's called volunteering.  When I am in the classroom, I can feel a part of my child's academic and social education!

(OK, this post is a little satirical, and there are additional worthwhile extra-curricular activities and things the schools can't/don't do, but I think I'll feel better about my kids' education when I am as involved as I can be.  You can bet I will work harder to be in the classroom/at the school even more now!  It's a lot easier than home-schooling them!)

Protecting Is a Part of Good Parenting

I enjoyed this article from Generation Cedar, Protecting is a Part of Good Parenting (link from LAF/Beautiful Womanhood).  A good summary of the article comes from one of the comments:
I think it’s silly that a lot of parents refuse to shelter their children from worldly ugly things only to shelter them from any amount of responsibility.

Who Am I Supposed to Be?

I ran across Who Am I Supposed to Be? through LAF/Beautiful Womanhood one time.  I loved how Jasmine at Joyfully at Home had such a positive attitude toward staying at home.  I wondered how to get that attitude.  I wished I'd had it with me all along.

I didn't realize at first that she is what is termed a stay-at-home-daughter.  I'm not sure I'm so keen on the concept, but her heart is in the right place for someday becoming a stay-at-home mom.

I guess the balancing question is, how do we teach our daughters to have the attitudes expressed in the article regarding staying home and caring for a family, yet still develop the qualities that help them become independent?  Is it possible to have both?  How?

The Word Feminism

The other night, Evan and I were on a date talking about this blog.  He said the only time he's heard the word feminism was in a negative light.  What!?  How could it be that I've never thought that?  Sure, modern feminists do some pretty crazy stuff, but historically, feminists have done so much good, too!

So, I thought I'd do an extremely well-thought out and accurate facebook survey (I jest).  I need to ask the question again to see if I get a few more responses, but generally speaking, most people who replied to my question do not like the word feminism and view it in a negative light or believe it is no longer an issue.

Now why would I not view it this way?  Is it because I've grown up in a society infiltrated with feminism that I haven't noticed it?  Is it because I took a woman's history class and became more familiar with the subject?  What would cause me to miss the hard-core dislike among the general population?  I figured most people I know would consider themselves feminists, but just don't really talk about it.

Because this blog was intended to be an uplift and a support of the women's issue: it's okay to stay home, I've made the blog private until I can figure this out.  I don't want to drive people away just because of the word feminism.

I consider any issue that women fight for as feminism:  modesty, staying at home, fighting pornography, equal pay, etc.

How do you feel about the word?

Could the negative connotation someday be removed?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something to Think About

Each year that I'm not hugely pregnant or nursing, I like to take a day and go to a little bit of Education Week at BYU.  My dear husband takes a vacation day and spends it with the kiddos.  This year I went to a class that mentioned that women's brains are 40% more active than men's!  I'd like to validate that claim, but if it is true, that might explain why women are more multi-taskers and why men are more compartmentalizers.

If women's brains are so active and more capable of multi-tasking, and the most important thing is to preserve the family, wouldn't women best be used in the home where a multi-tasking environment is a given?

Just an interesting thought.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Keeping the sanity amidst the housework

Although we value these [career] opportunities for women, motherhood and homemaking suffer. Mothering and creating homes are knitted tightly together, but in recent years they have disappeared from American society as natural and valued pathways for women. Instead the message seems to be that if mothers have access to modern conveniences to care for their homes and families, then they should be free to seek their own fulfillment. Women and men often end up in conflict over the seemingly burdensome work in the home because they want to pursue personal interests and activities. Home is often erroneously considered a place from which women need to break free. Some ideologies would have women think that home duties limit their full potential, and women and men are tempted to disregard the important, everyday aspects of homelife—thus the loss of our rolling pins and brooms.

With the more kids I have, the more difficult it is to keep a clean house.  I think most of us feel saner when the house is clean, but we feel insane having to clean up after everyone all the time!  Didn't I just do this not even an hour ago?

In addition to the above quote, I've heard it said that women can be free to go out of the home and get a job because of our so many modern conveniences.  I read something recently, can't remember where, that said, sure, we have all these great inventions, but someone still has to do the laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean the bathroom, drive the kids wherever, etc. 

I also read somewhere else that women are tired of trying to take on both roles of homemaker and breadwinner, so if they can make it on one income, they are trying because it's easier not to take on multiple roles.

For the past 6 weeks or so, I've been following my own chore chart.  I do two or three chores each day, Monday through Saturday.  Dishes, sweeping, and laundry are not on the list because they have to be done so frequently.  So now, rather than trying to clean the house in a one or two day period, I just do about 20 minutes a day (in addition to sweeping, laundry, or dishes), and I can tell you the house is cleaner than it has been in years.  I love it!

Another thing I've started recently is watching TV or a movie while I clean up the kitchen at night.  We're not big TV/movie people around here, so this is big for me.  I do usually listen to books while I exercise, but I haven't really done it for anything else.  The book I was listening to was boring, so I borrowed a few movies from my parents.  The housework is so much more enjoyable!  In fact, I've tried to find more things to clean just so I can watch my movie!

I have a friend who cleans for about 15 minutes each night, and her house is nearly always spic and span.

What do you do? How do you keep your sanity amidst the housework?

Career Goals vs. Homemaking

In 2005 it is normal to hear young women describe their goals for the future in terms of exciting careers they plan to pursue. These girls most likely also desire to be wives and mothers, but today it seems more appropriate to announce career goals first.

I remember when I was young and at some point it became inappropriate to answer, "I want to be a mom" when asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  

I think that is a big part of why I pushed mothering waaay ahead into my future -- so far away that when I got to the point that I probably should have started having children, I was really afraid to.  Why would I want to do something hard like have children?  Then I can't do what I want anymore.

As I raise my girls, I hope I can give them a good impression of mothering where they will want to put it first.  Of course, I want them to have the legal freedom to have a career (and be paid the same as a man), but I hope they choose first to raise a family.

America's Women

I really loved this book by Gail Collins.  I braced myself for some extreme feminism bias, but it never came.  Collins gave, what I thought was, a very moderate and complete history of women in our country.

It was so interesting to me to see the trends regarding women that have occurred throughout the last 400 years in our country. I have to agree with 95 - 99% of the feminist movement up until the 1970s when the women's libbers and ERA and men-haters came about (then, of course, I think things got way out of control).

I would recommend EVERYONE read this book. Women have been through so much in this country and have helped make it what it is.

The Perceptions We Give

A few months ago I got together with some old Ricks' roommates.  One roommate commented, "Emily, I'm sure surprised you're a stay-at-home mom. You were so career driven!"

I just about choked!  How could it have been that I sent out that kind of message -- and to those I knew best?

I always knew I'd be a wife and a mom someday, but that was way off in the future.  At that point in my life, though, I was extremely academically driven and felt that grades were the only way I could compete successfully with the boys.  (I'm not sure why I wanted to compete with them.  Perhaps it was for the attention.  Back then, I mostly dressed like the boys, thinking they'd like me for being like them -- not realizing the boys liked girls who were girly.)

I really didn't have a career in mind, and never did come up with one; I guess I just wanted success in something.

Now where am I going with this?  I guess it's just interesting the impressions we leave with people.  Hopefully we leave impressions that truly reflect who we are and what we stand for.  Hopefully we understand ourselves enough to give a true representation (which does sometimes change).  Hopefully this blog can leave a good impression of womanhood and some of the good in it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

One of my favorite quotes

. . .I had spent my life running away from the domesticity that was the core of her life. Hesitant in the outside world, [she] was confident at home. . . .She knew who she was as a woman. She knew that what she did mattered. The knowledge that her role in the family was necessary for its well-being permeated her life. Her work was valued; she was valued. . . .She wasn't sacrificing herself for the sake of her family. Making a commitment to marriage and family were seen as a worthy pursuit. All her duties were an expression of love for her family and for God. . . . [She] seemed content. . . . Maybe when expectation matches achievement, a person is content. 
-- Sue Bender, Plain and Simple: A Woman's Journey to the Amish

This quote describes me so perfectly!  You should read the beginning of the book when Sue talks about herself and all her lists!!

The Trend to Stay Home

Here's an article on an interesting study in Australia on the trend for moms to stay home.

Who gave the housewife a bad name anyway?

I recently read a book review of Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked our Sexuality by Gail Dines.  The author of the book review, Pauline Cooper-Ieolu summarized part of Dines' history of pornography in regards to women, men, and the family:

Yet Hefner drew on a counter-cultural trend that encouraged men to resist marriage and embrace the bachelor lifestyle. The conformist male, so the argument went, was being robbed of his masculinity, freedom and sense of individuality, and women were singled out as the culprits. Described as greedy, manipulative, and lazy, America women were accused of emasculating men by dominating their husbands. . . .  Hefner exploited such messages relentlessly in Playboy, affirming that marriage and single women were the enemy of available men.

Hmmm.  I always thought it was the extreme feminist movement that gave the housewife a bad name, but apparently the pornography industry can also be to blame.

Passionate Housewives Desperate for God

Somehow throughout my life I've picked up some of the feminist ideas that don't quite conform to being a stay-at-home mom.  As I was trying to reconcile this, I came across Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we have a lot of advice and help on being good mothers and homemakers, but I've just had a hard time finding actual examples of people who are stay-at-home moms and who really, really like it.

Although this book is not an LDS book, I just loved it.  Living virtually my whole life in Mormon Utah, I really needed a non-Utah perspective.  Here was an example of two great women, stay-at-home moms, trying to love being such.  Sure, it was a little conservative for me, but since I've grown up with feminism every which way, I think it's what I needed to balance me out a little.

I quite enjoyed the last paragraph of the book:
"I pray that our time with you has helped you to see your role in the home as the artistic sculptor of souls; the resourceful shaper of an expanding kingdom.  May you turn your back on the hollow image of desperate home life the world parades before us and learn to view your own home as a place of life, hope, joy, and industry---a place where spirits are made full and lives are changed forever for the glory of God."

In the beginning

I've always considered myself a feminist, especially since my Women's History class at BYU pointed out all the good things about feminism and taught me that feminism was people fighting for women's rights and issues (including the right to stay home).  Well, I don't know if that's what BYU actually taught me, but that's what I came away with.

As I've learned more about feminism recently, though, I got kind of afraid.  There are so many modern feminist ideas out there that were waaaay beyond anything I could ever support.

That was so unfair! You'd think with a name like feminism, you'd support things feminine, wouldn't you?

I began reading the site and often agree with it.  I admit I actually ignored the site at first because it it was ladies AGAINST feminism.  Later, I found and got embarrassed at its representations of Mormons/Latter-day Saints.

Then I read a book review on Girls Gone Mild by Wendy Shalit:

Fourth-wave feminism, as Shalit argues, is the new revolt. No longer is it culturally rebellious to be sexually promiscuous; rather, modesty and sexual prudence has become the new weaponry of cultural dissent. Not only do the new feminists refuse to be subjected to sexual objectification, but also they are quickly becoming role models for young women who want to embrace a more wholesome choice regarding their sexuality. Staging pure fashion shows, lobbying department stores for more modest choices of clothing, girlcotting -- as opposed to boycotting -- purveyors of offensive t-shirts with catch-phrases such as "Who needs Brains when you have these", and talking to other young women about the benefits of purity all feature within the scope of their activism. 

Hmmm.  Fourth wave?  Maybe I could like the word feminism again.

I researched it a bit, and I'm still thinking about it.  Jen Nedeau speaks of it as a possible spiritual awakening or bringing feminism into mainstream.   Jessica Valenti says it might be on-line feminism.  So whatever it is, I guess it's not yet completely defined.  I hope it turns back to Shalit's definition so I can use the word again.

I woke up before 6:00 this morning and the first thing in my head was Stay-at-home-feminism, or those of us who stay at home, or who want to, and we represent all things feminine: the good of womanhood, and we are happy about it, or are at least trying to be.

I Googled stay-at-home-feminist and found a couple things.  Haven't read them all, but I will, eventually.

So, this isn't a completely original term, but I kind of like it.