Monday, March 27, 2017

Like unto the Pioneers and a Motherhood Brain Dump

When I had two kids I actually had time to "be" a Pioneer! 
(I still did it when I had 4 kids, but then it got a rough, mostly because they got old enough to develop their own opinions about things.)

You know how it sometimes comes up how the Pioneers had to give so much and we wonder if we could have? Pioneers had to leave their homes, some of their family members died, they were persecuted, and so forth? Then someone always says, but we have mental and emotional battles to face and temptations, which is true.

A couple Sundays ago during a lesson on prayer, my new friend Kathryn H. said something that really clicked for me. Well I don't know how much of this she said or how much came from my thought process, but I realized that as societal norms and standards are changing, as members of the LDS Church, we are asked to be different.  When so many are seeking merely personal gratification, we are asked to get married and stay married*. When so many are rejecting children, we are asked to bear them. When some are attacking women who want to bear children and raise them, we are asked to stay home, if possible, and take the time to care for our little ones.

I'm sure we can think of more, but when we are becoming more unlike the world because we hang onto tradition, it can be a sacrifice.

The other day I was reading 3 Ne. 24: 14-15:
Ye have said: It is vain to serve God, and what doth it profit that we have kept his ordinances and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts?  And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
Do you ever feel like that? I don't know that I've ever thought so much about that scripture before: Some people say it is vain to serve God (and it's even selfish to serve him and do things he asks like have children or be a stay-at-home mom) and it hasn't done any good to keep the ordinances and honor him (what do we get for being pious?). We sometimes even call worldly people happy and even those who break the commandments get to live happily in their sin with seemingly no consequence.

The next few verses confirm, though, that those who follow the Lord shall be His. Those who follow won't be forgotten.

In addition to the few things we are asked to do regarding family and motherhood as mentioned above, this lovely article, "My Lifelong Wrestle with Mormonism" nicely outlines other sacrifices we are asked to make in this modern day. These things are not always unique to our faith, btw.  The Proclamation on the Family also states how we are to be different. Even Sister Burton's "Certain Women" talk touches on the sacrifices we make.

I've had so many thoughts lately I don't know if I should create new posts or just roll it into this one as it all relates!

Attacks on Mothers and a Plea to Modify "Feminism"

Have you noticed recent attacks on motherhood? A couple years ago I was able to go to the United Nations and attend part of the Commission on the Status of Women with Big Ocean Women. We were there representing faith, family, and motherhood, as those topics can be under-represented at the UN. Some of my friends went again this year and have been sharing some sad things.

But first, let's talk a minute about feminism. The other day a neighbor posted something about "This is why we need feminism!" (which was true, but it's also why people just need manners, not necessarily feminism). She also posted a nicely done video about girls and education (which was great, btw). My friends who are posting, I think, look at feminism as I have viewed it: fighting for the rights of women and allowing women to choose whatever path they want. To me, that is true feminism: Give us equal opportunity, but still give us choice. I've been around enough, though, to see that when people say "feminist" all sorts of flags and walls go up. Most people think radical feminist when they hear merely feminist. I hope people can start describing what exactly they mean so everyone can have a meaningful conversation.

There seems to be a growing hate and denial of female biological functions perpetrated by man-hating, feminine-denying, sameness-seeking radical feminists.  For example:

1. The Teen Vogue "What to Get a Friend Post-Abortion" article. Really? Can we be any more demeaning to women and their inherent power to create life? Why are we promoting killing people and making jokes of the aftermath?

2. How about, "Motherhood is not a Woman's Most Important Job"? The author states,
"People can probably not tell you how many children Harriet Tubman or Marie Curie or Elizabeth Cady Stanton had, but they can, hopefully, tell you what they did." Has the author asked any of those women what they think their greatest accomplishments were? Who's to say a woman needs only be a mother and nothing else? I can't think of a single mom that stays home all day caring for children every day. We all have passions, we all do other things, too, whether paid or unpaid. Isn't it great we can do more than one thing? Isn't it great that children grow up and then we have more time to do other things, too?

3. "It Should be Illegal to be a Stay at Home Mom" came out of Australia. That article asserts that as soon as all the kids are in school, women should return to work so there's no untapped labor force. It's like the author thinks the moms who stay home are secretly hiding some amazing thing (maybe they are? Who knows?).  If all the moms are working, who's going to run the PTA and care for the kids when they're sick? If this were to happen, there would definitely need to be a more liberal time off policy for all parents. Our old neighbors had a nanny. The parents both worked, and they sure did need the help. Kids were often sick, someone had to shop, someone had to take kids to activities and appointments, someone still had to cook and do the laundry. I'm glad it worked with the nanny; she was a wonderful friend, but they couldn't have done it without her. Someone has to take care of children and household things. On a different note, one friend went back to work when her youngest was in 7th grade. By the time he was in 8th grade, she'd quit her job and said, "They still need me so much!" Mothering never stops.

4. At the UN, wording of international documents is incorporating the word "burdens" in association with children. I will be the first to say it, yes, mothering can be burdensome, but my children are not burdens. They are incredible human beings with amazing potential. We have to be so careful with our language and the message it sends. How about we try and relieve and manage the burdens we encounter in life, not the children themselves.

5. I can't even remember where this was (maybe from a comment on the motherhood not being the most important job article), but some commenter stated how she couldn't bear to not contribute financially to the family and that not working would make her a bad role model to her children. Now I won't say this is necessarily radical feminism, but still a sad shift in thought about the value of women. Personally I'm grateful to a husband who basically gives me control of what he earns and doesn't keep it for himself. I feel my non-monetary contributions are huge, and our family wouldn't survive with out them. How sad I feel for the mother who feels she is not a role model to her children if she doesn't work.  

Because this radical feminist backlash toward motherhood, a newer development is happening - the rise of maternal feminists, or as another put it, classical feminists.

I totally stole this from some guy's comment from Facebook:
Feminism, as pushed by activists today, is a sham; clearly. However, I know people who I would call "classical feminists", who are all about breaking down societal barriers-- enabling women to do what they desire regardless of social pressure. I respect greatly those who pursue that objective.
Modern feminism, puts up barriers against women doing what they want; barriers as strong as the barriers of 100 years ago that caused the feminist movement. If a woman wants to be a homemaker, that's her prerogative, if she wants to lead a Fortune 500 business as the CEO, she has every bit as much right to compete on equal terms as men. If she can beat her male counterpart in ability, she deserves the job; if that's what she wants.

The classical feminists I know, prefer to work part-time and spend more time with their kids. They want to breastfeed without punishment. They want to guide their own futures. They commonly excel at everything they do. I honor them.
Likewise, I shame those who would declare that those women are wrong for desiring traditionally-female tasks. There are things only women can do, there are much fewer things that only men can do. Deal with it.
My friend Ali L., who attended the UN met women from the group Haro. Read the excerpt to see how mothers are treated in Sweden:
These are mothers who want to be home raising their children but because of the system in Sweden it is very difficult for women to stay at home with their children. They are penalized in taxes if both parents do not work and are fined thousands of dollars if they home school their children and live with much social stigma for the decision to stay home to raise their children. They are extremely brave women (one has 5 kids which is unheard of there) for speaking up about the downside to the push for all women and men to be in the workforce if some women would rather be home. Many mothers wish they could be home with their children but because of the social pressure they don't. These women are paving the way for other moms to have their voices heard. There is less parent-child connection there as a result of the lack of parental influence in the home and they are seeing effects in the children--the children attach more to their friends than their parents and when their friends are disloyal they have a tendency to have more emotional/suicidal problems. Haro called having a parent in the home to care for the family instead of a care worker "emotional capital" and it was a powerful statement. The fact that these women are speaking out despite the fact that Sweden is always touted as the country to copy for their paternal leave and gender equality is pretty amazing. Their presentation was the most heartfelt I have heard yet. Our country is headed that direction if we do not keep a balance in supporting women in their choice to stay at home or work instead of pressuring all women to be in the workforce through future legislation.
Anyway, over the years I've just noticed we need to modify, or add adjectives, to the word feminism. To communicate clearly we need to say radical feminists, maternal feminists, or something or else we seem to get into big unnecessary fights, when we're probably a bit more on the same page than we think.

Stay at Home Mom Fight - Why Is This Even an Issue?

A week or two ago I posted something on Facebook about being so happy for some of my friends who now have children old enough to back to school/do something for themselves. Seriously, it makes me so happy, and I look forward to it, too, in a few years.

Emily S. has 5 children (some adopted even), and is now going to law school.
Tiffany W. has 7 kids? and is taking a graduate-level genealogy class.
Cheryl S. has 7 kids? and is working on her application for graduate school to study music something-or-other.
Paris G. has 10 or 11 kids and is now doing some major house restoration/remodeling.

I love it! I love that menopause is closer than we know and that kids don't stay little forever (but I'm sure I will miss it when they are bigger, but that's why we hope for grandkids, right?), but because we do have "seasons" of life we can do different things at different times.

Anyway, some people seemed to be upset with my happy post for a couple reasons:

1. One commenter was very persistent that you CAN go to school or have a job while raising a family. Yes you can, but it doesn't always mean you should. Seven kids? Eleven? Some of us aren't that good at multitasking. I've seen many women handle it all so well, but then when they get to two or three children, it's just hard to manage so much and they take a break for a time. Some people seem to do it all, but we don't need to if we don't want to/it's not necessary.

2. People also seemed to be defensive that not every woman had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. I'm sorry, but that was irrelevant. It wasn't a post about SAHMs vs. not. In this case I was happy for women who were for the most part SAHMs in earlier years, but now had the opportunity to do something additional. If I'd wanted to have the SAHM debate, I would have posted about it.

My friend Hailey P. taught me when we were young moms: Does it matter if you get paid or not for what you do? If you're a SAHM you're still going to do something. For me it's been volunteering and sewing probably, for her it's been art, volunteering, and homeschooling, and probably more. We have to keep a little bit of what we love so that we can thrive. Does it really matter if you get paid for it? Does getting paid make you a bad person? No. You probably just luck out with that one. Can't we all just support each other and be happy for others' choices and that we CAN choose?

Now, we could have a whole discussion on if you need to work or if you want to work outside the home for pay or for full or part time, but I'm afraid the baby is going to wake up. Needless to say, it's ultimately your choice and is dependent on your financial circumstances and support system. Perhaps it will work better at some points in your life than others, too.  For me, one of my modern day "Pioneer sacrifices" is to do what I have been asked: to get married, stay married, and raise a family, and I hope true feminists can support that.

(Wow. Don't you like how I actually brought that all back around? That doesn't usually happen.)

*And yes, there are times when you should get divorced!