Sunday, July 7, 2019

Pulling the Handcart Alone

Last month my husband and I got to go on trek for our second time, this time with our 15 year old son! The first time we went, 5 years ago, the women's pull was very effective, so much that I NEVER wanted to do that again. We started out with just the mas pulling the handcarts. As I tried to start, I discovered my handcart was stuck on a little rock. It took all I had to get it rolling. Not soon after, I thought I was going to die. My heart was pounding harder than it ever has. I seriously wondered if I was going to have a heart attack or stroke. My breathing got very shallow and I wondered if that's what asthma felt like as I struggled for breath. I was so glad when "my" daughters were able to join me when the slope started, and then the sons and husbands as we got near the top of the hill. When we all stopped, we "processed" our experience and talked about how there are some things women do that men just can't help with. We talked about how when a woman has a baby, that's something she has to do on her own, and her husband just stands there wishing he could do something to help. We talked about other things, but I don't recall the details.

On this recent trek, they were careful to make the women's pull not too hard; however, they were so careful that it was pretty easy. The guys hiked off with some handcarts, and then women from different families joined up together. I think most of us families ended up with more people pushing the carts than we did when our men were with us. Girls complained that this was so easy, and that they'd made it easy because they didn't think we could do it. It was kind of a sad, missed opportunity. At the top of the hill, my husband and I still wanted to "process" with the kids. We talked about how sometimes we women have to do things alone, but that we CAN do it. We talked about how we are strong. We talked about men and women are different and we're meant to be that way, and it is ok to accept help from men; we don't HAVE to do it on our own, even if we are able.

After trek I was thinking about how much prep I'd done for trek, for me, my husband, and son, and even in sewing clothing with one of my daughters for others. Preparations started months in advance. Then there was cleaning up trek and returning all the borrowed stuff. Then there was preparing for the family reunion, and of course normal housekeeping and cooking, appointments, calling, kids activities, etc. etc. I was getting burned out and fighting colds and getting cold sores. I realized I was pulling the handcart alone or almost alone. My husband was busy with work and his calling and not thinking much how he could help me. I could have asked him for help, but saw he was just busy. I could have somehow talked the kids into helping more, but it's so hard when they resist. I don't know how I could have gotten more help, but the point was driven that we all have to be aware of those around us so that we can notice when they are pulling the handcart alone and do something about it.

On a related, but different note, I had the feeling on trek that youth need to feel useful. Our present culture often allows teens this lifestyle where they are spoon-fed, yet they are sad (especially where we live), and I wonder if they need to feel needed. I've heard that the teen years (and even into the 20s these days) is a new invention. Years ago, a person went from being a child to being an adult with adult responsibilities without these middle years. I realized that pulling handcarts is a really good way to make everyone feel needed, and the kids on trek were generally SO HAPPY. I now keep pondering how can I help my teenagers feel needed and critical to our family unit. I'm sure there's a way to meet their need to be needed and my need to not pull the handcart alone. But why is it easier to get your kid to pull a handcart than to vacuum out the car?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What brings you joy?

This is weird. Three posts in three days? Things must be getting better!

I was just cleaning the massive mess in the cubbies below our tv and found this little "joy" journal that came from who knows where. I flipped through it to see if there were any blank pages left as to know whether to toss it or keep it and discovered the author's bio at the back of the book. Author, Wendy Santiano mother of small children, remembered feeling "overwhelmed and . . .  really lost in life . . . [and] numb. . . ." when she realized that she did actually remember what it was like to experience joy. Well that sounds familiar on so many levels.

I flipped to the front of the little booklet, read it and came up with my joys:

1. Service: Service has been such a part of my life for well, pretty much all of it, I guess I can say it does bring me joy. I love coordinating with people and organizing and being there to help.

2. Learning: I love to learn or discover new knowledge, which actually leads to writing.

3. Dates: I love spending time with my husband! Watching shows or going on walks and talking. Planning things together.

4. Kids: I love it when the kids are kind and make good choices. I love it when they are happy and at peace. I love it when they reach their goals. I'm trying to figure out how to react when they are mean or have sad failures. I didn't think stuff like that would affect me like it does.

5. Build: I love to build. It could be "building" dinner, ok, we usually say cooking. It could be "building" a costume; we usually call that sewing. It could be working in the yard or fixing something in the home. President Uchtdorf called this creating.

6. Adventure: Well, I used to have a sense of adventure before I got all mom-serious and bogged down. I kind of gave up on adventure, too, when the kids complained about stuff like hiking or were too small to bike and things like that.

7. Exercise: I can't believe I'm writing this, but one of the biggest joys I had was once after running. I pushed it and felt so good! I really have a love-hate relationship with exercise because it's hard, and I really don't find it fun at all. But, it makes me feel so strong when I work hard at it, and I like that! I want to do it, but it's been so hard the last 16 years to really do it, with kids.

This all reminds me of all the health classes I took in college where we talked about the different elements of health: social, emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, etc. The list varied by class. In one class we were challenged to do something from each category every day to remain balanced and healthy. As a mother, I realize I totally stink at that. I guess in college, I did, too, because I thought our assignment was to one each day, not each one once a day. I can pull off one a day, but all of them?

Every year our school has a "Sharpen the Saw" weekend based off of Covey's 7 Habits of Happy Kids. My cute first grader brought home a little book about what sharpen the saw means. Basically it's take care of body, mind, heart, and soul to stay balanced. I'm ok at making sure everyone else stays balanced, but pretty much stink at making sure I take care of myself.

So, there ya go. I'm feeling awfully vulnerable blogging again. It's been quite a while. I'll try to focus on my joys and see if my outlook improves because Santiano said, "Joy matters because you matter." And I know I do, it's just sometimes it hasn't felt like it.

Monday, May 20, 2019

"My Mother Sacrificed Everything"

This Mother's Day I saw at least a couple posts from children honoring their mothers by saying their mothers sacrificed everything for their children---they were at every game,  every recital. . . . All I know is that we TRY to be to every game, but sometimes it's not even possible because someone else has, or a couple others have, something going on. Luckily it's not that frequent as our kids aren't in that much stuff compared to many. I don't know if something's wrong with me, but the thought of mom sacrificing everything made me kind of sad. Maybe she had some hopes and dreams she was able to fulfill when she was not taking care of kids, but ultimately, I guess I hope someone had her back, too.

I guess I'm in a stage where I feel I'm drowning a bit. I am coming out of it, and we're figuring out a balance. I guess I'm just not the type who can give up EVERYTHING. I suppose some people are completely fulfilled taking care of families, but I can't say that it fills me up; right now it sucks most everything out of me. Maybe I'm doing it wrong, and obviously I'm STILL trying to figure it out.

This isn't really related, but yes, the physical demands of little children is super hard. But, I had no idea that the eventual moodiness of teenagers would affect me emotionally like it does!

I'm glad I've had a little time to have a few thoughts lately, even if they are kind of depressing. Hopefully I can get a bit more upbeat when it comes to parenting.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Can you do cool stuff and still have a family?

I've been enjoying the heck out of the What's Her Name Podcasts. However, I've realized that very few of the women reported on had children! I'm sure some of them did, but since that was such a normal thing, it wasn't worth the mention, maybe. But, it seems that in history if you were to do anything really cool, you didn't have children. Maybe if you had them, it just took you out of the ability-to-do-something-cool circle. While on the treadmill yesterday, I also turned on the Annie Oakley American Experience on PBS. Again: no children!

Is it really not possible to do cool stuff if you have kids? I was reminded tonight that yes, you can. I went to a Young Women's fireside with my daughter and husband where our mayor spoke. She's a woman, three years older than me. Her kids are older than mine; she started much sooner than I did. She dropped out of college because the babies kept coming and she felt it was what she needed to do at that time. She's back in school now working on a bachelor's with the goal to get a master's eventually.

Isn't it funny that I thought that the worst thing possible that could happen to me while in college was to get married and then get pregnant because that would ruin my educational plans? I guess for me I wasn't ready for the sacrifice of parent responsibilities, but some young people do it, and well! I would have thought people who do this were silly back then, but I admire them now, especially when they re-enter the college scene to continue their education as an older adult.

Kathryn Skaggs of Latter-day Saint Women Stand, a grandma, is doing it. My friend Emily M. S. just graduated with a law degree. How I admire them for having the guts to go back amidst having a family life!

As for women doing cool stuff AND having children, it does happen, and maybe it's more acceptable to do it now, but Carol Allen of Big Ocean Women has lots of kids and she's getting the word out there on maternal feminism. On the MWEG Facebook discussion group, there was a conversation about women who've gotten involved in the public sphere/politically who are Latter-day Saints. There are MANY MANY. My follow-up question is how many children do they each have? My hope is renewed in that you can do cool stuff and still have children; you don't have to give up family life to change the world.

I feel that the message to our local young women and young mothers is you get to choose - do what YOU want when you want, and you can really see a decline in family size because of this. So, it was refreshing to see the example of our mayor CHOOSING to have a family during those prime child-bearing years, but still eventually be involved so strongly in the community.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Defending marriage and family or defending women?

There was an interesting comment in Relief Society today. I don't know if I disagree or agree, but I don't have the clarity on it. Maybe it's an opposition in all things kind of thing.

Elder Christofferson said this in April's General Conference:
Deseret News opinion editor Hal Boyd cited one example of the disservice inherent in staying silent. He noted that while the idea of marriage is still a matter of “intellectual debate” among elites in American society, marriage itself is not a matter of debate for them in practice. “‘Elites get and stay married and make sure their kids enjoy the benefits of stable marriage.’ … The problem, however, is that [they] tend not to preach what they practice.” They don’t want to “impose” on those who really could use their moral leadership, but “it is perhaps time for those with education and strong families to stop feigning neutrality and start preaching what they practice pertaining to marriage and parenting … [and] help their fellow Americans embrace it.”32
I think the teacher then asked how we share the concept of marriage or support it. Perhaps she didn't ask the question, but that's where the discussion was leading. One sister reminded us how Mike Pence was basically attacked for not going to lunch with women. Here he was trying to do a good thing, but people won't honor him in that respect for his wife, that personal boundary.

Another sister raised her hand and as a professional feels such discrimination when things like that happen. However, at the same time, her husband doesn't like it when she goes out with other men, so she tries to go out to cafeterias/open settings, or invite another person along.

When I was single and did anything one-on-one with a guy, it was great. No questions asked. It was like a date. It was even an opportunity to get to know the guy better and maybe even have hope, on occasion, that it might go somewhere. But what changes when we get married? It wasn't awkward being alone with a member of the opposite sex when I was first married because I was used to it, I guess. But now, 18 (yes, 18 tomorrow!) it seems totally weird. I have to wonder if respecting that boundary is a way to honor marriage and family and say, I'm not going to cross into your personal space? I don't know. Or, is it really a discrimination thing, not letting women into that good old boys' club? In which case, that's totally inappropriate, too. I do believe women should have every right to succeed and to be treated fairly.

I also wonder why people are having one-on-one lunch dates in the first place? Is this a newer thing? When I worked (now I did work for the LDS Church), I met in my boss' offices one-on-one. No problem. We went out to lunch sometimes, but it was for fun, not for work, and there were always many people and much socializing. I think we felt we needed a break during the day, so why work at lunch?

Of course we should expect that adults can behave themselves in honorable ways and know that people can control themselves. Sadly, though, it's not always the case. Just recently I was talking to a friend who said that her husband had been traveling extensively with another woman and he'd become rather attached to her; insomuch that he preferred the other woman over the wife. It does happen, even to good people, who don't intend it to. I felt so sad for this friend. I don't know how common this kind of thing is, but it is still devastating to those involved.

So, I don't know. Do we try and honor marriage by not having one-on-one business dates which might inadvertently hurt women's advancements in the work field? Personally I'll err on not having one-on-ones with other men, leave lunches for social gatherings, and hope any one-on-one stuff happens in the office/public spaces.

Although, I'm still curious to know when one-on-ones MUST happen where there wouldn't be other people around, at least through a closed door.

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!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Millennials in the Book of Mormon

The other day someone shared "59 Percent of Millennials Raised in a Church Have Dropped Out—And They’re Trying to Tell Us Why." Of course the article went through its normal Facebook thrashing with some people saying Millennials haven't done a lick of good for society, while other said they have. In general, the article did start out pretty whiney, as some would say you would expect from a Millennial, but I thought the solutions the author suggested were not bad. I actually found many of them relatable enough to what I feel the LDS Church is already doing. Anyway, that's beside the point. I don't really want to review the article because that would take too long.

Two nights ago I was reading 3 Nephi 1:29-30 and realized that they had "Millennials," too:
And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and begin to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves, and were led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words, to join those Gadianton robbers. And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation.
Did you catch that? Their children grew older and became "for themselves." They got selfish. Because their children got selfish and wicked, the faith and righteousness of the whole community/society also began to diminish. Doesn't that remind you of today? It seems that each generation gets a little more wicked, a little more accepting of sin, and then I guess before we know it, society has broken down and people have lost faith and they need to be saved somehow. I'd never noticed that parallel in the scriptures before. Now, I'm not saying all Millennials are bad, it's just the timing of the article and me reading the scripture lined up, so Millennials were the ones to get picked on this time. ;-)