Monday, December 27, 2010


  • "A woman is a nurturer by just the way she is created. . ."  I really liked that quote because if you think about it, our bodies truly nurture new life.  We nurture in the womb, at the breast, and for years after.  Our husbands, too, nurture for those after years, but don't have that special opportunity beforehand.  I didn't feel that sadness of not nursing anymore with my first two kids, but with the last one, I kind of didn't want to give up that physical nurturing that comes from the breast.  What a blessing and responsibility!
  • If her husband doesn't provide some reenforcement of all a woman does, "she may have an erroneous understanding of how she is magnifying her sacred roles."
  • "A man will bless his children more by making it possible for his wife to be in the home with them . . . as they're growing.  They need, if it's at all possible, a mother in the home, not out working to share the responsibility of income. . . . A much greater blessing to children would be to have her there rather than to have the things that a second income would provide."  I'm beginning to understand also how great it would be to additionally have a father in the home (work from home), but as our culture and economy runs, it's just not as practical.  So, if you have to choose one parent to be home, I suppose the mom's the first choice because of her nurturing capacities.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Feminine Minority: A Brief History of Feminism and the Modern Woman

I've mentioned the book, The Feminine Minority by Patricia Regar a few times now, but have never actually blogged about it.  I try to blog about things that are really amazing to me, and that book just wasn't one I agreed with enough to actually blog about.  However, since I have mentioned it a couple times, and probably will in the future, I thought I better give it some credit.

Several months ago, when I wanted to figure out why attitudes have changed toward the stay-at-home mom over the years and how modern feminist attitudes have infiltrated our society without us even noticing, I pulled out my old notes from a women's history class to look up a few things.  I'd also recently been on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood and saw The Feminine Minority:  A Brief History of Feminism and the Modern Woman.  Rather than reading through my pages and pages of hand-written class notes, I thought I'd just get the printed book.

I started the book and realized I disagreed with a lot of what she said:  the Enlightenment, education, the vote, equal pay, easier divorce, and dating (her slant is against those things to an extent, so I felt like a real liberal).  She did bring up many surprising and important quotes, and the book was well-written and interesting, but I just didn't agree with so much of it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Two Trees

My husband saw a link on facebook the other day to an article/speech called The Two Trees (meaning the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life) by Valerie Hudson Cassler.  He knew I would like it.  He was right.  Cassler very broadly and clearly explains how woman is not without the man, and man is not without the woman in order to progress in our eternal existence.

Specifically, woman's duty is to bring man into the world through birth (or in Eve's case, she was responsible to eat the fruit and get mortality rolling for them and for the rest of humanity).  Adam's (or man's) responsibility was for spiritual salvation:  he was to get the family out of this world (at death) in a righteous state.

This is where the whole submitting thing comes into play.  Cassler, however, doesn't use the word submit, she uses the word hearken and gives this example:
Women, do we hearken to our husbands? Well, of course we do. If my husband said to me before we were married, "Honey, I want to be married in the temple, and I don't want to be married anywhere else." I would say, "You betcha!" If after we were married and had children, he said, "Honey, I want to hold family home evening, and I want to hold family prayer, and I want to make sure they get baptized when they are eight." I would say, "You bet! I'm going to accept and receive that fruit of the Second Tree from you." If my husband said, "Honey, would you go get me the remote, it's in the other room," or "Tomorrow we're moving to Iowa, did I tell you?" It is not my spiritual obligation to hearken outside of loving my husband and receiving from him the gift of the fruit of the Second Tree.
 A few more interesting quotes:
. . . I grew up in a tradition where the fact that Eve was created second was taken to mean that she was an appendage to Adam, that she was somehow inferior to Adam, that being derivative of Adam and not derivative of God that she was two steps away from divinity, not one step as Adam was.
Now our [LDS] General Authorities have told us that that perspective is absolutely wrong, and that indeed when the term "helpmeet" is used, as I am sure you are well familiar, that "meet" actually means "equal in power to save." So let's read here from Elder Earl C. Tingey: "You must not misunderstand what the Lord meant when Adam was told he was to have a helpmeet. A helpmeet is a companion suited to or equal to us. We walk side by side with a helpmeet, not one before or behind the other. A helpmeet results in an absolute equal partnership between a husband and a wife. Eve was to be equal to Adam as a husband and wife are to be equal to each other. . . ."
And then in the King James version of the Bible, we are told that Eve, as part of her punishment, that she was told that Adam would rule over her. Is that what the LDS believe? Actually not. I think one of the most important new—I can't say new doctrine, because obviously it started with Adam and Eve, but rather a rediscovering of truth—appeared n the August 2007 Ensign. . . . If you read it, here's what Elder Bruce Hafen says: "Genesis 3:16 states that Adam is to "rule over" Eve, but. . . over in "rule over" uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over. . . . The concept of interdependent equal partners is well-grounded in the doctrine of the restored gospel."
The real drama of human societies is what's happening between men and women. It isn't treaties and wars and the price of oil or how the stock market is doing. . . .   . . . we can say that the situation of women is a barometer of how near death a civilization is. It is because where love and equality between men and women do not exist, you cannot live the Gospel. You might as well start anew. . . .That means that gender equality is not some "politically correct" ideal . . . . No, relationships of gender equality are the bricks of Zion, without which you cannot build Zion. . . .
At the end of the article, Cassler shares a parable of the whole plan for woman and man, easy enough for a child to understand. The article was very enlightening and you'd get much more out of the 9 pages if you read them!  If I could put it in very simple terms:  if you were playing a video game (not that I have in years) and had already chosen your players (man/woman), and it was now time to choose your armor, woman would choose child bearing and man would choose the priesthood.  Woman fulfills her duty by bearing children.  Man fulfills his duty by leading the family back to God in righteousness.

One last interesting point that Cassler makes (actually at the beginning of the article) is that she is a feminist.  She says "I didn't join the [LDS] Church because I was a feminist, but I stay in the Church because I am a feminist."  She seems to feel the equality between men and women is well manifest (and believed) in the LDS Church.  That was interesting to me because many of the popular Mormon feminists today still don't agree with that viewpoint.  I tend to relate to feminists and the feminist cause mainly because I, too, like the equality and also because of the history (not really the modern movement).  I'll have to write a post on why I like feminists some time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Mother Heart

My cute cousin, Victoria, wrote about A Mother Heat on her blog.  It's fun to see we're thinking along the same lines!  I hope she doesn't mind me linking to her!  Thanks for the reminder of the article, Tor!

(OK, I shouldn't call her cute.  She's now a grown, married woman who owns a house and and has a baby!!  But still -- she's my little sister's age!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Father Come Home?

I was finishing up listening to the Conversation with the Hollands and got really interested when they began talking about their days at Yale in the late 1960s and 1970s (about minute 46:00) just after The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan came out and when Gloria Steinem spoke there a few times.  Sister Holland said she could see a negative impact emerge among the young couples at Yale because of the feminist movement.

Sister Holland mentioned how Betty Friedan said the feminists had thought of everything to liberate women, but even later in her life admitted that the movement forgot the children!  I believe I also read this point in The Feminine Minority, by Patricia Regar, but I haven't looked up the quote myself.

President Holland interjected that he thought the model of feminism of the period was actually backwards.  The movement was to get women out of the bondage of home life, when really it should have been how to get the men back in the home sharing the workload.  He said he has nothing against helping out with the dishes, laundry, and budget (or whatever).

I couldn't believe it!  How right is that?!  I can't believe in all the hours I've thought about the feminist movement that I'd NEVER thought of the great impact bringing men home (or just getting them more involved) can have.  I think I get too caught up on our economic setup of men/jobs being out of the home, that I forget how much they can and should contribute in the home. 

Interestingly, the other day I'd read an article that LAF/Beautiful Womanhood linked to over at The Art of Manliness about how during the agricultural days, men were home, then came the Industrial Revolution which took many men out of the home, and men just continue to be further and further away from the home and child rearing.  The author at The Art of Manliness hopes that more men can be involved in family life because of technology -- allowing them to work at least some of the time from home.  (Let me tell ya -- when my husband occasionally works from home, it does make all the difference!  Even when he's home sick and baby's asleep, I have the freedom to run to the store!  I have several friends whose husbands often work from home and what a help it is to them!  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!  Let's get these husbands more involved rather than trying to get ourselves away from our homes!)

Earlier in the program, one of the Hollands mentioned how Mary was not a single mother.  Joseph was provided to be Jesus's earthly father:  Children need fathers.

They also bear their amazing, beautiful, inspiring testimonies of the Gospel at the end.  Even if you don't get excited about feminism or anything else they said, their testimonies are well worth listening to.

Friday, December 17, 2010

More on Submit and Preside

I was listening to a Conversation with Jeffrey R. and Patricia Holland, and Sheri Dew quoted one of their sons as saying:

"Mom and dad are both very strong individuals; however, my mother gives her full, unreserved allegiance to my father's priesthood leadership and my father constantly turns to my mother for counsel and insight."

Sister Holland goes on to compare the marriage relationship to a business where someone ultimately makes a final decision.  However, that person pulls in the "greatest minds" to help him/her make that decision beforehand.  Sister Holland is quite the example in if her husband does what God wants him to, she will surely support.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Conversation with Bridget

Emily has asked me to write about my perceptions and experience with motherhood and I am totally flattered and overwhelmed. At this stage of my life (with three kids five and under), being a mom is pretty much what defines me and I am glad to say that I am feeling okay with this. However, it has taken me a while to get to this point and I know that as Sister Goates points out, I am probably in the “childhood” phase of motherhood, so I really am just at the beginning of this experience. One of the reasons I like this blog and Emily’s enthusiasm for this topic is that it reminds me to keep making motherhood - and being the best mother I can be - a priority. Even though things can get really frustrating (for example, my way-too-small baby is currently in the throwing all of her food/spitting her drinks out phase – yikes!), when my kids are raised I want to feel like I did the best job I possibly could have done. I know that doesn’t mean that I’m going to have perfect kids. I just want happy kids that know their mom loves them. One of my favorite articles that helps me to remember to enjoy the small moments and not stress to much about little things is Anna Quindlen’s article On Being Mom.

I grew up in Cedar City, Utah, but joined the church when my high school friends sent missionaries to me during my freshman year at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. I grew up in a very scholarly/secular home with great parents and as you can imagine my conversion was a challenge for our family. However, things progressed, I met my husband in Utah, was married in the temple and we went along our happy way with school and work. When we married I was very career driven and did not “just” want to be a mom. When I’ve asked Justin about why he wanted to marry me when he came from such a conservative background, he says that he knew that I had great potential and that he had faith that I would realize what I wanted to really do as time passed. I wasn’t necessarily waiting until I had finished school or gotten rich (that still hasn’t happened!), to have kids, I was just frankly terrified at the prospect of being a stay-at-home-mother. On both sides of my extended family there had been sad stories of women that didn’t enjoy motherhood, felt forced into being moms, and suffered from serious depressions and so even though my mom had been amazing and sacrificed so much for me I was always worried that motherhood would make me feel trapped and when a baby was born my life would be over. I knew that I wanted to be a mom someday, but I was definitely scared to take the plunge. My good and patient husband wanted to make sure I was okay with being a mom because he realized that the decision to have children would affect me the most since my life would be changing dramatically to stay home.

I’m not really sure what made me change. Maybe it was quite a few callings in primary, or watching my amazing mother-in-law love being a mom, or maybe it was just getting a little older, but after about four years of marriage we decided to have a baby and got pregnant relatively easily. I remember going along and trying to push myself with full-time graduate school and a demanding work schedule and about 12 weeks into the pregnancy after a busy day I just began gushing blood and we went to the E.R. Being at the hospital was a surreal experience. It forcefully hit me that there was a life growing inside of me and that this little life might be cut short. They did an ultrasound to check to see if the baby was okay and at 12 weeks we could see her whole beautiful little body and profile. I remember at that moment thinking that if I lost the baby my heart would absolutely break. I left the hospital with the doctor’s nerve-racking prediction that if I could keep the baby for three more days everything would be fine. Even though I was an emotional wreck for a while I was able to stay pregnant and I think that this event really made me want to have a baby.

My little girl was an absolutely adorable baby, but very difficult and it was kind of a rocky transition. Everyone warns you about the exhaustion you will feel with a newborn, but until you feel it for yourself you have no clue about sleep deprivation! I remember worrying that my mind was going to go to waste, so I would try to always read while I was nursing and I watched tons of classic movies from the library so that I wouldn’t be “wasting” my time. I remember one night I was again concerned with being able to get my baby to sleep in a crib without being rocked and my mother-in-law sweetly told me that it wouldn’t be long before my baby would be all grown-up and I couldn’t rock her anymore.

Difficult things with my oldest did pass and I think I really began enjoying motherhood when I connected with other moms and set up reasonable expectations for myself. Playdates and other opportunities to really talk to other women in my position and those that have been through raising small children, helped me put things into perspective. I know that I am a result-driven person, so I would initially get frustrated when I’d look back at my day and realize that the only productive thing I did was shower. Now, I really try to focus on spending quality time with the kids. Not necessarily doing an amazing craft or anything special, just being together. Even though we went from being “established” with a steady job and home after our first child was born to graduate students again, the decision to have our two other children was relatively easy. Although we were poor it just felt like the right time to have kids and really the Lord kept providing ways that we could make things work financially. We have kept trying to be frugal, but I know that things worked out because we have been blessed for trying to do what we should.

One simple thing that we do that helps me enjoy being a mom is that we read a lot of books and I know that it has been an important way for us to feel close, even when they were very small. A routine has been essential to all of us to help us keep a happy home. I think that my kids thrive on knowing what to expect and then at the end of the day I know that the important things for our family have been accomplished and it makes me feel better too. Even though I am seriously craft-impaired, I have found a love for creating things and have really enjoyed sewing in the past few years.

I am glad that now I can sit back and feel happy to be a mother and very grateful that I made the decision to have children. I know that even though we don’t do anything fabulous in our daily routines, the things I am doing are helping to mold people who can be the building blocks for happy families in the future. I try to let my kids know how much I love them and love being a mom and I hope that my girls will value motherhood and not be scared to take on this life-altering responsibility. I hope that my son will see how important it is to support and honor women and will understand how critical father’s roles are in raising happy children.

The moms that I admire have many varied backgrounds. Some of the amazing moms I know have not finished college, others have PhDs. Some are exclusively stay-at-home moms, others work full-time. I think that it really comes down to having to teach our children to be close to the Spirit, because there is no one right way to be a great parent and I think that as times change parents are going to have to continue to adapt to raise content and competent children. For me an education was very important, especially in helping me mature and I have a difficult time giving my best to my family when I work so I am currently choosing not to work very much (I help a non-profit about 10 hours a month). But, for my children I cannot say that my choices will be best for them and I pray that they will be mindful of the Lord’s will for them when the time comes for them to make decisions about family and parenthood. I know that it is cliché, but I am so grateful for the gospel and its’ emphasis on the family, because I think without the tools and knowledge we can gain from the teachings of the church it would be so difficult to be a parent in these times.

That was really long-winded, but I hope that others will write about their experiences with motherhood because I know that there is a lot we can all learn from each other (and that I still certainly need to learn!). Emily, thanks again for the great blog!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Interesting Sites:

The Art of Manliness
What Women Never Hear
The Misfit Cygnet
Being a Mother Who Knows 
Mormon Women Project 
Mormon Mommy Blogs
NieNie Dialogues 
C Jane Enjoy It
Power of Moms
Focus on the Family
The Heritage Foundation
Voices for Virtue 
Old Fashioned Motherhood
Simplify My Life
Happy Hutchings
Smile Always
An Ordinary Mom

What do I know?

I was visiting a friend today whom I totally admire.  She's 13 or so years older than me and has kids from the ages of 4 to about 20, including 2 sets of twins.  We chatted a little about some of the topics I've written about on this blog and she, in her wisdom, said that when she was a younger mom there were things she felt totally sure about, but now, as the kids are older and life situations have changed, she's not so sure and she just keeps her mouth shut.

My mom has said something similar.  She said she's looked at this blog and has some thoughts, but there's just so much to say; how do you put it all in words?

I also think about Cokie Roberts in We Are Our Mother's Daughters how she said that the issues the feminists are fighting for today are still the same issues as when she was young -- everything's just recycled.

It's interesting that we younger generations are trying to figure out the same things our mothers and grandmothers all tried to figure out.  Maybe we should just listen a little more since they've probably figured it out already.

A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard the less he spoke,
The less he spoke the more he heard,
Why aren't we more like that wise old bird?


The Family -- Not a lot has changed

Last night I read, "Families Can Be Eternal" by Spencer W. Kimball written 30 years ago.  He was the president of the LDS church from 1973 - 1985.  The talk could have been given yesterday.  I was amazed that the problems facing the family then are pretty much still the same.  1980 doesn't sound that long ago, does it?  Gulp.

Our obligation to the family:
". . .whenever anything so basic as the eternal family is imperiled, we have a solemn obligation to speak out, lest there be critical damage to the family institution by those who seem to be deliberately destructive of it."

". . . many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us."

". . . There are those who would define the family in such a nontraditional way that they would define it out of existence. The more governments try in vain to take the place of the family, the less effective governments will be in performing the traditional and basic roles for which governments are formed in the first place.

". . . We are free to resist those moves which downplay the significance of the family and which play up the significance of selfish individualism."
". . .We genuinely welcome help, real help, from churches, schools, colleges, and universities, from thoughtful men and women of every race, creed, and culture who care about the family."

A Return to Modesty Point
President Kimball pointed out that "so many of the difficulties which beset the family today stem from the breaking of the seventh commandment (see Ex. 20:14). Total chastity before marriage and total fidelity after are still the standard from which there can be no deviation without sin, misery, and unhappiness."  After reading Wendy Shalit's A Return to Modesty, where she suggests that if we all respected modesty, women would be safer; we can add that not only will women be safer when we are modest (which goes hand in hand with chastity, etc.), but so will families.

"Rising generations who have been taught that authority and loving discipline are wrong will not keep the fifth commandment, honoring their fathers and mothers (see Ex. 20:12). How can the rising generations honor their parents if their parents have dishonored themselves—especially by breaking the seventh commandment?"

The Feminine Minority Point
Patricia Regar, author of The Feminine Minority, suggested that one reason Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) wanted to restrict birthrates among the poor was so that they'd stop populating the world with more poor people (page 57).  President Kimball had different point for a similar scenario:  "Delinquent adults still tend to produce delinquent children, and that awful reality will not change simply by our lowering standards as to what constitutes delinquency—either in adults, youth, or children."  I would think President Kimball's solution to the problem would be to care for and educate "delinquents" rather than eliminate them.

When times get rough:
"Permissiveness will not pull us through such crises."

". . . parliaments, congresses, and assemblies—cannot rescue us if our basic institution, the family, is not intact. Peace treaties cannot save us when there is hostility instead of love in the home. Unemployment programs cannot rescue us when many are no longer taught how to work or do not have the opportunity to work or the inclination, in some cases, to do so. Law enforcement cannot safeguard us if too many people are unwilling to discipline themselves or be disciplined."

I really like that part about how "unemployment programs cannot rescue us when many are no longer taught how to work."  I thought that was interesting in light of today's economic crisis -- you could add integrity in one's work to the mix.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Time to Teach

I was listening to a "Conversation" with Claudio and Margarethe Costa.  The Costas were talking about being happy.  Sister Costa said when you're a mother of young children, sometimes it's hard to be happy because there are so many things you can't do, but when you realize it's not your time to learn, it's your time to teach, it makes it much easier.  She was specifically referring to how frustrating it gets at church.  She also mentioned that there will be times later to do things you want to get done such as clean the closet.

My thoughts:
  •  Although I'd love to be listening better and participating more at church, I hope my spiritual stores are filled so that I can be aware and direct my kids in the things they need to know.  It's their turn to learn the Gospel; I've already learned it (or at least should have!) -- not that I should neglect my personal growth. . . .
  • I suppose if if I make cleaning a part of teaching (which I think it should be, but it's hard), that will make it  less frustrating.  
  • Learning I do should not selfishly get in the way of the family, but should be of benefit to them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Women of God Quotables

These quotes are from "The Women of God" by Neal A. Maxwell.

Teamwork and roles:
In the work of the Kingdom, men and women are not without each other, but do not envy each other, lest by reversals and renunciations of role we make a wasteland of both womanhood and manhood.

No wonder the men of God support and sustain you sisters in your unique roles, for the act of deserting home in order to shape society is like thoughtlessly removing crucial fingers from an imperiled dike in order to teach people to swim.

On children: 
The divine maternal instincts of an Egyptian woman retrieved Moses from the bullrushes, thereby shaping history and demonstrating how a baby is a blessing—not a burden.

God trusts women so much that He lets them bear and care for His spirit children.

On serving:
. . . [women] are too busy serving to sit statusfully about, waiting to be offended. 

On self:
Women, more quickly than others, will understand the possible dangers when the word self is militantly placed before other words like fulfillment. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms. . . .

I thank the Father that His Only Begotten Son did not say in defiant protest at Calvary, “My body is my own!” I stand in admiration of women today who resist the fashion of abortion, by refusing to make the sacred womb a tomb!

On being single:
We have special admiration for the unsung but unsullied single women among whom are some of the noblest daughters of God. These sisters know that God loves them, individually and distinctly. They make wise career choices even though they cannot now have the most choice career. Though in their second estate they do not have their first desire, they still overcome the world. These sisters who cannot now enrich the institution of their own marriage so often enrich other institutions in society. They do not withhold their blessings simply because some blessings are now withheld from them. Their trust in God is like that of the wives who are childless, but not by choice, but who in the justice of God will receive special blessings one day.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I am thrilled about this Blog. Thank you Emily for being such a great friend and example to me. Hope to share things that will be helpful, faithbuilding and encouraging to all you fellow sisters out there, and am so exited to learn!

Unmarried with Kids Trend Reported on NPR

LAF/Beautiful Womanhood linked to Unmarried with Kids: A Shift in the Working Class, a report on NPR.  I found the article on NPR and the comments on LAF/Beautiful Womanhood very interesting.  One quote by "Andrew Cherlin a sociologist and author of The Marriage Go-Round:
What I think is happening is that a lot of young adults these days think that having a kid is absolutely necessary and something you don't put off until someday in the future when you might be able to marry.
 I suppose the trend in the past was to wait and wait and wait until your career was established and you were married, then when you tried to have kids, it was hard.  Sounds like now you just have kids whether you have a career (or any job) or a husband -- just so you don't miss the opportunity.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Submit and Preside

I was wasting time on facebook today and wandered over to LAF/Beautiful Womanhood's page.  I noticed a question someone had posted regarding what it means to submit to one's husband.  There were some good answers there.   The first idea that popped into my head was not being snotty with one's husband -- just as a child should not be snotty with his/her parents -- goes along with being meek, humble, kind, etc.  Now, a husband should not be snotty with his wife, either.  If that's happening, or if it's going both ways, sounds like there are problems that ought to be resolved.

Tonight while I was cleaning, I listened to a Conversation with Elaine & Stephen Dalton on my iPod.  Now there's a good 45 minutes (on fast play) of cleaning time!  If I did that every night, my house would look great.

What really struck me was the balance these two have in their marriage of submissiveness and presiding (presiding particularly being a hot topic on Mormon feminist blogs).  The Daltons demonstrated how these two words can be a beautiful thing if done well.

The main example that struck me was that Elaine Dalton submitted to the stresses of mothering 5 boys and a girl when her husband was involved for years in church service.  She looked at his service as their service.  He led in a church sense, while her part was to "hold down the fort."  Now that she's serving in a very visible position, he, too, looks at this as their service.  Just as she supported him, he now supports her.  You can look at it this way, too:  it really wasn't her submitting to her husband in his service, it was her submitting to God's will for them to serve in their capacities at the time.

The Dalton's also mentioned three things they specifically tried to teach their kids:
1.  Identity - son or daughter of God
2.  Listen to the Holy Ghost
3.  Don't be afraid to be different

Of course they also talked about the courage to be virtuous, too.

Well worth listening to.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Why Education Is Important Even When You Stay Home

I was talking to a college-aged young woman in our neighborhood recently about school.  She likes college; she's busy; she's stressed out; she finds it strange coming home for holidays and having to report to her parents her schedule.  I asked her what her major is.  She said she wants to be a pharmacist, but the chemistry is killing her.  This is a bright young lady.  I have no doubt she can be a pharmacist.

But, I wonder, doesn't she want to get married and have a family?  She, too, has grown up believing that "the family is ordained of God.   Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan" and "that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. . . .  By divine design, . . . mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  I contemplate, wouldn't it make it kind of hard to be a mother and a pharmacist someday?

Why do we do this to our girls?  Why do we ask them what they want to be career-wise when they grow up, when really we (or some of us) hope they will simply be able to stay home and be a fulfilled wife and a mother?  Turning to ourselves, why did many of us set off on this fake career journey knowing that deep down we just wanted to find our dream guy and eventually raise a family?  Do we need to spend all that time and money on education if we're going to "just" stay home?

Well, I don't know.

But I do know there is inherent goodness in education. From a scriptural or religious standpoint, in Doctrine and Covenants sections 88 and 109, we are encouraged to seek out of the "best books words of wisdom" and to "seek learning even by study and . . . by faith." We know that whatever intelligence we gain in this life will be an advantage to us in the next (D&C 130: 18-19).  We also know that "the glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36).
I also know that if something happens to my husband, I need a backup plan (maybe it's a new husband, maybe it's a job).  I also have a hunch that someday I'm going to be learning chemistry and physics and calculus and all sorts of other hard things anyway, so I may as well get a head start on them in this life.

Most importantly, for my circumstances, doesn't education also also make me a better, well-rounded, enlightened person with a better capacity to serve my family and community?   Education gives us more to think and talk about -- more than pop culture or gossip.  It helps us feel balanced.

I had a discussion the other night with my husband on how college has helped me become a better person and mother.  I actually had a really difficult time thinking of examples at first, but once I started looking at specific cases, I can see how I have used my education:
  • Stress Management:  Relaxation, and deep breathing techniques -- ways to stay sane!
  • First Aid:  Taking care of family members and teaching Cub Scouts
  • Child Development:  Let's just say I wish I would have paid better attention in this class.  I regrettably admit that I felt too proud to be there.
  • Social Hygiene:  That was BYU's name for Human Sexuality.  It came very much in handy when I got married, but was totally embarrassing to me while I attended (although the teacher was very tactful).
  • Utah History:  Fun to teach my kids and volunteer with them at This is the Place Heritage Park
  • Geography, Geology, Environmental Biology:  Fun with kids and Cub Scouts
  • Education/Teaching:  That's a no-brainer
  • Behavior Change:  Helpful for myself with weight loss as well as family situations
  • English/Writing:  Helps me so I don't look quite such a dork on-line and in other written situations.  Helpful for proofing my husbands' schoolwork and my father's book.
  • Leadership Opportunities:  In college I had a couple opportunities to attend leadership workshops.  These  still prove useful in church and community service.
  • Consumer Health:  Helpful in discerning unscrupulous health fads
  • Statistics: Taught me that you can interpret numbers any way you like, so be wary of what you hear
  • International Development:  Helps me remember that most of the people around the world don't live like we do.  I can teach my children not to feel so entitled.  I hope to take them on some humanitarian "vacations" when they are older.
  • Religion Classes:  At LDS Church schools you are required to take religion classes 7 of your 8 semesters.  Not only did this help my personal faith and knowledge grow, but it helps me in public teaching situations.  When I was asked to teach Sunday School, you can bet my New Testament class came in handy!
  • Computer Classes: I'm almost young enough to be a digital native, but I still need some help!
There are still many topics that I would like to learn more about, that either I didn't take in college, or now I realize the benefit:
  • Sewing and Pattern Design:  What a fun hobby to keep me busy!
  • Cooking:  Why doesn't my caramel turn out like I want it?  Why won't my whole wheat bread get a lighter texture?
  • Horticulture:  What is wrong with my garden, my grass, etc.?
  • Business/Economics:  Even just a basic class would have been helpful here.  Darn stock market.
Some of the topics I mention are "general" classes, which seem very beneficial in daily life.  What about serious math and science majors, though?  Is that education for naught when you end up staying home to raise a family? I'm not sure since I did major in Health Education, which now clearly has helped me in my role as a wife and mother.  My sister-in-law, Emily, is working on a PhD in Chemistry.  I'd like to ask her how/if studying zucchini root can help her as a wife and soon-to-be mother.  Maybe the actual knowledge isn't that practical, but the learning surrounding it is?  I know she has helped my brother with his math!

What about all that time spent in college?  I ask, is it really that much time?  You can earn a bachelor's degree an approximately 4 years.  That doesn't sound like such a huge amount of time when you can be raising children from anywhere between 18 and 30 or more years.  I think the trick is if marriage and family do present itself during those 4 years, take it if it's right, and feel good about it.  After all, isn't our first priority our families?  You can still keep learning, too, on your own!  You can even go back later if you want.  You can even go while you raise your family, but just be careful not to over-do it.  Balance -- it's good for your health.

I talked to someone recently about her education. She said once her kids are older, she wants to go back to school.  What she wants to do with herself now is totally different than what she studied when she was younger.  She knows more about the world and has different ideas on what she wants to do with herself.

Speaking of going back to school and careers, I recently listened to this Conversation with historian, Susan Easton Black.  Her story is fascinating.  She became a single mother of three, and with the babysitting help of another mother who could no longer have children, Black was able to return to college and become a professor.  She made the best of her situation and has made wonderful contributions to society.

Now I know there are some who are anti-college for various reasons, and that is fine.  There is plenty you can learn on your own, especially in this day of access to so much information.  College can just give you the opportunity to focus and teaches you what you didn't even know you should know (you don't know what you don't know).  Wherever you get your education, though, you should.

Back to the topic of our girls, maybe so they won't feel like they're "wasting their education" when they do settle down to have a family, we should not ask them in a career-minded way what they want to be when they grow up, but ask them what they want to study.  Maybe that way they'll feel they're taking their education with them, rather than leaving it behind with the career they didn't quite have.  Perhaps we can also emphasize that the first priority is to be a wife and a mother; self pursuits, including education and career, and even hobbies, are secondary.

Converstation with Julie Beck

I just finished listening to this "Conversation" with Julie Beck and her daughters.  It was really fantastic.  I wish I had the transcript so I could jot down a couple quotes.  In the conversation, they cover motherhood, experiences that made Sis. Beck who she is, running the Relief Society, the importance of not getting distracted from those important things we need to do, and much more.  Definitely worth listening to.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another definition of feminsim

There's been a lot of good stuff out there lately!  Sometimes I really wonder if thoughts float around just waiting to be caught.  Maybe there is something to the "think method" like in the Music Man!!  I know that sounds weird, but you have to wonder.

My friend Hailey linked to this article on facebook:  As Sisters in Zion: Mormon Feminism and Siserhood.  As I've thought a lot about the word feminism lately, I really enjoyed Kathryn Soper's explanation -- especially in regards to Mormonism.

She points out that feminism is not a strict definition, but more of a conversation.  Very interesting.

I also liked this statement, ". . . resist patriarchy and you're a bad Mormon, embrace patriarchy and you're a bad feminist."  Made me chuckle.

I had to question this statement, though: Panelists were asked
to describe challenges and rewards of living lives true to the faith, yet out of sync with the cultural ideal of Mormon women as demure, domestically gifted "helpmates."[10] As I listened, I considered how the actual lives of the women I know vary so widely from that stereotype, and how its persistence as a standard causes so much unnecessary guilt, insecurity, and self-doubt that hampers Mormon women from filling the measure of their creation.
I think Soper's right in that women do vary widely from the stereotype, and they can be faithful, but I felt like there was a little bit of a knock toward those of us who are trying to become a "domestically gifted helpmate."  I'm learning to have fun with it, and I see it as a part of a measure of my creation. I don't think Soper meant it as an insult, but sometimes I sense that if you choose to become a "domestically gifted helpmate" that you may be looked down upon for not choosing something with more visibility.  I think I have just as much right and should have just as much respect as I would by choosing this for my life as I would in being a physicist.

The Male Privilege

My on-line friend, Mrs. G, just posted this:  Male Privilege.  Very interesting to think about.  I'm glad I have a man in my life to take advantage of the "Male Privilege," I think.