Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I'm a Stay-At-Home Mom

Feminism in Mormon-land gets REALLY complicated really quickly. Its a fascinating and at times challenging balancing act. (Warning: I will get religious at times. Its my blog and I can if I wanna).

I know views of women inside the church by those outside the church can be... a smidgen on the negative side. I had the experience in college with one of my favorite psychology professors who I'd taken several classes from discovering after all that time that I was in fact a Mormon.

You should have seen her jaw hit the floor. She gawked at me like I was a side show freak and then sputtered a line I will never forget: "I never would have thought that you would be a member of so patriarchal an organization!!"

Then it was my turn for my jaw to hit the floor b/c coming from her "so patriarchal an organization" was dirty words. I then laughed and responded with something to the effect of "Clearly, we're not who you think we are." It turns out her source of what she thought we were about was a disgruntled former member.

I've had MANY people throughout my life be surprised that I was Mormon, although they're not usually so  specific about the cause of their surprise. I usually just get "You're not like the other Mormons I know." And I never know exactly how to take that. I hope its a good thing. That I'm doing something right. On the other hand if its a good thing that leaves me with the fear that perhaps my fellow members are doing something wrong. But the alternative is that I'm the one who is way off and needless to say that thought is... uncomfortable.

But I digress. Basically a lot of people group Mormon women in the "must be barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen popping out whole herds of crotch parasites while singing jaunty tunes, making bread from scratch and carving ice sculptures for relief society" or something to that effect. I should probably top that off with "is a good 'yes wife' who does as she's told and knows how to grovel properly and bow and curtsey before the men folk".

..... Yeahhhhhh. Needless to say that is NOT ME. In fact, it is so far from NOT ME that I will get a little bit, um, violent, in my expression should anybody try to tell me that I should be like that.

Now the flip side of this is where it gets a bit complicated: If you WANT TO stay at home, and reign over your crotch parasite herd while singing tunes and kneading bread I say "More power to ya". If you want to go out and have the high power career "More power to ya".

My clearest thought is this: If it makes you happy, and you pray about it and that is the path that your Heavenly Father has for you and you wanna do it: then GO FOR IT.

Not all of us or supposed to be Susy Homemaker and not all of us are Patty Highpower. Some of us don't fit remotely neatly into either of those molds and some of us will fit neatly in to both of those molds at different times in our lives.

That said, the person who tries to shove me into any mold is liable to get a knee to the groin. And I think that my INTENSE reaction to that has more to do with my firm belief in the sanctity and divine right of agency. It is given to us to chose. No one has the right to take that from us. Not even God. And He doesn't and He never will.

So call it feminism if you will but either way I think that women, AND men, have the right to chose.

That said, I am a stay at home mom because I chose to be. Because in my little heart of hearts, I've prayed about it real hard and the place I am supposed to be right now, for better or worse, is at home with this baby.

Now there are other women whose lives, personal situations, etc are different and can manage better than I can the balance of career AND family, but I don't think I am that person. The message that I feel strongly about right now is that nobody can love and teach my child the way that I can love and teach him. That right now, with this kid, it needs to be me.

And I feel that this is the time and the season for me to have my children. To get my "child bearing years" done and over with. Do I still want to go to graduate school? Oh my gosh yes. Is now the time? I've prayed about it and its a resounding "no". I figure that 30 is creeping up on me by the day, and yes LOTS of women have children at MUCH older ages than 30, but it ain't gonna get any easier the older I am. In fact its pretty much all gets harder and higher risk and with my luck I probably shouldn't push it.

But more than anything, to me, this path is what feels right.

Are there lots of amazing careers I could be having? Sure. Could I positively impact the world, and make my mark on history? Sure. But I can only say this: In this time and this place, in doing what I'm doing with my one little child, I am doing the greatest good I can possibly do in all the world. And I know that to the core of my soul.

One final thought on Feminism Meets Mormon-land (don't worry I'm sure I'll revisit this topic in depth) - Mostly in regards to the secondary claim that we're supposed to be good subservient yes-wives.... Oh HECK no.

And here it does get complicated b/c the person I will submit my will to is my Heavenly Father. I chose to do this because every time I have I have found greater joy in His path for my life that I could ever have planned for myself.

Extend that thought to - I believe that God leads and guides a church. He has a Prophet and 12 apostles just as He has done all through out history. I believe that God leads these men and guides and directs them. As long as they are following direction from Heavenly Father what possible arguement could I have to submitting my life to the guidance and direction they receive from God? So one could argue that I am "submissive to men".

However, I will state this: my obedience is not blind. I have the right to pray to God myself and ask for confirmation that the things I am being taught and asked to do are right and good and true. And you better believe He and I have LONG chats about things and I don't generally do anything unless I believe it to be right. Sure once in a while, I'll go on faith and just do it, but I always get my confirmation that its right.

You could argue I've simply been brainwashed and conditioned and all of that. Go ahead. But this is my life, and I believe.

One final thought to my final thought: regardless of gender I don't think anybody has the right to make some one else feel degraded and inferior, especially not with in the bonds of marriage. I believe that is NOT what God intends for His children. I think it should be a partnership. Sometimes he leads, sometimes I lead, mostly we discuss things a lot and pray about it and try to follow God's lead.

If that's feminism then I think God is a feminist.

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