Barbecues and Celestial Glory

On one of our earlier posts, Annegb had this to say: "Sadly, I think we, especially Mormon women, keep score way too much...We rate ourselves and condemn ourselves on the basis of very superficial things, like how clean our house is." I just read this comment, buried as it was in the earlier post, and I thought, "That is me. I do that!" I'm not sure I do so much score keeping on other moms, but I definitely have some pretty harsh criticisms of myself that include, among other things, how clean (or not clean) my house is. I stress out about whether or not my child's socks match. I've been known to be reduced to tears about planning a Relief Society dinner. My husband, who just could not get on board with that one, said, "C'mon, do you really think that your celestial glory depends on how well you can plan a barbecue?" I mournfully wailed, "Yes, and at this rate, I'm going straight to hell!" (I've since come to the conclusion that this is erroneous, that I'm not going to hell for failure to plan a dinner well, but that I'm going to hell for a variety of other reasons.) Needless to say, my husband found my response to his question, well, just plain silly. So why on earth do we do this to ourselves, women? Why this score-keeping? Why this need to prove our worthiness based on things like baked beans and ham? Why can't we say, "Hey, my son felt loved because I was there for him when he hurt his finger, I gave him lots of hugs, and I played the music he especially liked while we were in the car", and have that be enough? Whence cometh this silly notion that our celestial glory rests upon how clean our baseboards are? Why do I feel more righteous when I scrub my toilet than when I help my son with his fingerpainting? (Of course, I guess that one depends on exactly what the toilet looked like when I started!) Sometimes I feel like there is a big scoreboard in the sky, and that everytime I do something that I feel is good, I get a check mark, and then every time I do something that is bad, I get a minus, and then at the end of it all, we'll add up the checkmarks and minuses, see where they come out, and then I'll head to wherever that is. Somehow I know that's not true--something I learned once about the Grace of Jesus Christ refutes that notion. But in the daily throes of motherhood, I sometimes forget that He is here for us, not only for our clean baseboards, but also for giving us peace and comfort in our hearts to help us all be better mothers. But then I always come back to the question: Do they have Relief Society dinners in the celestial kingdom? If they do, I don't want to have to plan them!


Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

I think the scorekeeping is because we want motherhood to be meaningful . . .

. . . but no one gives you a year-end bonus based on your billable hours

. . . and no one gives you a lifetime achievement award for exceptional achievement in the art of toilet training and college admissions

So we need some markers of how we're doing, and we turn to, well, things that can be measured, like cleanliness.

We need to convince ourselves that what we are doind matters, and that there is a reason that we aren't (1) sprawled on the couch in sweats with the proverbial soap opera and bon bons or (2) in a power suit from 12 hours per day with the youngin's are institutionalized. We need to know that what we are doing matters, and the best way to convince ourselves of that is to see how we are doing it better than others.

In case you can't tell, I don't think any of this is good, but I am not entirely sure what to do about it.

3/22/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

OK, first of all, if I was planning a barbecue, and my husband started talking about celestial glory, I'd smack him. I'd tell him I wasn't so concerned about celestial glory right now, more about the fact that I can't make cole slaw to save my life.

Second,I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in the D&C that you can't get into heaven with a dirty house. I don't remember the reference right now......

3/22/2005 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger Rosalynde said...

I live in fear that I will be called to some position that requires me to supervise large dinners--like Stake RS president. (Sad that this is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the Stake RS president's responsibilities, isn't it?) It's highly unlikely that this will ever happen, but if it should, I'm going to ditch the traditional "Education" and "Homemaking" counselors, and get "Food" and "Decoration" counselors, instead.

3/23/2005 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


How about "cute stuff" counselor? Somehow the women who make favors for dinners that include (I'm not making this up-this was our favor for our RS birthday dinner) small seed pots wrapped with a tool ribbon and a RS sticker, filled with M&Ms that are wrapped, again, in tool and closed off with a scalloped ribbon seem to have a talent that is beyond me. (I think that sister in our ward had to make like 200 of those things. She definitely deserves celestial glory for that!)

3/23/2005 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous claire said...

heather, you had 200 people at your RS birthday dinner??? I thought we were doing so well with 35!

3/23/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Can I ask an irrelevant question, Heather? What ward are you in? (If you want to say.)

3/23/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Andrea Wright said...

Heather great post, and I loved everyone's comments as well. When I see another Mom with a cluttered house or run into a neighbor at the store at 2:00 and she hasn't showered yet -- I am anything but critical, I am endeared to her. Yet, when it comes to myself, it's a totally different matter. I actually feel like I do an okay job of interacting with and teaching my children. So why does the fact that I can't stand to scrapbook and that I can't seem to keep my pillowcases and towels folded in nice neat stacks in the linen closet make me feel like such a failure sometimes?

3/23/2005 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Ana said...

We also get really mixed messages about this stuff. On the one hand, we are supposed to focus on the spiritual rather than the temporal, to be Mary instead of Martha. But on the other, there's this whole "house of order" business and the pressure of having your "job" be "Homemaker." On the one hand, we are supposed to be humble and simple. On the other hand, we hear that our homes are supposed to be refuges for our family second only to the temple in sacredness. On the one hand, we are supposed to refrain from comparing ourselves with other women. On the other hand, we have a Parade of Homes for an Enrichment activity. On the one hand, we are supposed to magnify our callings without magnifying our work. On the other hand, the need for feedback is real and valid, and it's not the worst thing in the world to try to show that we care about our callings. It's a real conundrum.

3/23/2005 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...


We are in the Wakefield ward in the Annandale Stake. And I don't know if that woman really made 200 of them, but there was enough for everybody, and well, there were a whole lotta ladies at the RS dinner.


Great comment, thanks.

3/23/2005 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

LOL, I read that first sentence without noticing my name and thought, "gee, that's what I think, too."

I don't remember writing that in a post, but I remember thinking it.

The older I get, the more I know that these sort of things are just not important. I read something the other day sort of like "it doesn't matter so much what happens TO us, as what happens IN us.

We just do the best we can and hopefully grow in tolerance and love for others, even if we never learn how to make a great chicken casserole. I think I will have a much harder time being patient with my abrasive, self-absorbed, unkind neighbor than making cordon bleu.

3/24/2005 11:09:00 AM  

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