5/01/2006

Jesus wants me for a housewife.

So here it is. The year is 2006. Women are experiencing advances that were virtually unknown by our grandmothers. Women can vote, women lead nations and corporations. Women have gone into space, pioneered scientific marvels and cured disease. The advances I am most familiar with however are the dishwasher, the microwave oven, and the phenomenon known as one-stop-shopping. Sigh. I’ve been feeling a little unfulfilled lately. I diaper, I feed, I clean, I play, I do my best to nurture. I know women who would give their eye teeth and then some to be in my shoes as a stay at home mom. But there’s this empty spot. I’ve been taught that selflessness is the key to womanhood and pride is dangerous. So when thoughts of my untapped potential drift into my mind I feel ashamed. I can hear legions of righteous women echoing in my head that I might be raising a future prophet or other very important person and THAT will be my contribution to the world. I hear in conference talks of dear mothers and their selfless sacrifice. I get it. But what if they had bagged their selfless sacrifice and done more great things themselves? Is that really a dangerous line of thought? If you become a mom are you just supposed to automatically hand the reigns of social advances and professional accomplishment to the single gals? A single woman can be a CEO without her ward flinching, but a mom – not so much. (I’m having a hard time expressing this very well so it’s just going to stream out.) What if I just don’t find this gig to be “me”? I can’t very well put in for a transfer or go back to school to do something else altogether. I’ve heard more than once that if you’re bored/frustrated/unfulfilled in motherhood then you are doing something wrong. I’ve repeatedly been told that as a female I am inherently more nurturing, more gentle, more sensitive and more spiritual than men. Have these folks MET me? My husband is significantly more maternal than I am. He is generally more interested in children and is frequently exhibiting pied-piper-like qualities in the playgrounds in our area. I watch him from the bench, pondering this set up. We had a party at our house once with a dozen or so friends. In our living room we had two seating areas. As the evening progressed, I noticed that the group had naturally divided into those two areas. On one side of the room was my husband and all of the women and they were talking about babies and childbirth – on the other side I was surrounded by the men talking about tools and whether Craftsman was preferred to Dewalt or Mikita. We were like gay stereotypes trapped in heterosexual bodies. With a few exceptions I have found that Mormonism embraces and glorifies the stereotypical mother-of-many to the point where the odd ball mommy-of-one feels like her salvation may be in jeopardy. By odd ball I mean someone who, among other things, just can’t pull of a jumper, can’t/doesn’t bake bread, is loathe to display kitschy inspirational crafts in her home, and would frankly rather be somewhere else when enrichment night rolls around. I can’t help but wonder if it really is as simple as those with penises should be the rougher hewn providers and those with the ovaries and mammary glands should be the softer nurturers who dedicate their lives to the home. I mean heaven help the man who wants to stay home with his children while his wife earns the family’s income. At least as a woman if I stay home I’m generally not assumed to be deficient in some way. So I’ve made the decision to continue to try to be okay with feeling like a square peg in the seemingly round hole of stay at home motherhood. I’m daily attempting to not begrudge my husband and his postgraduate training and intellectually stimulating avocation. I’m trying to remind myself that what I do is an important contribution to society. I’m trying to develop the ability to be fulfilled in what I am doing. I’m really searching for that innate mothering ability I am apparently wired with because the last thing I want is my son to think his needs are somehow keeping me from living the life I really want. It’s just that sometimes it feels like “anyone” could do what I do every day and that makes it feel even worse when I feel like I’m not doing it very well. So where IS this hardwired propensity to excel at maternity? Am I “un-female”? Was I born lacking in these areas or have I failed in some way by not forging through and developing a more “female” approach to life? I’ve tried to be more girly and to be clear I think I’m more feminine every year, but it is not easy for me. I didn’t baby-sit when I was younger, I didn’t pine for the day when I would be a mommy. I didn’t hone my homemaking skills when I was young. When the scouts went rafting and the young women in my ward stayed home and learned to bake bread, I was upset at the situation and made myself scarce. Maybe I should have sucked it up and learned to bake the darn bread. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cupcakes to make. Do you suppose I can incorporate a power tool into the frosting application somehow?

31 Comments:

Blogger Heather O. said...

I think every mother, or at least many mothers, feel like this. How old is your son? I can't remember. It gets better. Well, um, sort of. He does grows up, and there comes a day when he can actually wipe his own bum and put on his own shoes and dress himself and even make his bed, and suddenly you aren't the sun around which his universe revolves. You can claim a little bit more of who you are without compromising his needs, too. I think it's the "My child will die without me" that is the hardest stage, and the one where mothers lose themselves the most.

I have often wondered where the world would be if women got the same opportunities of men. And let's face it, I'm not sure we will ever be there. But watching some kids in our neighborhood start to self destruct because their parents aren't the kind of parents the children need, I am reminded, in a forceful, powerful, beyond Enrichment night assurances way that what we do is valuable, essential, even. And I think, "Good mothers have the power to change the world." Ok, so sometimes we feel like we have to do it one diaper at a time, which means most of the time we are wading through large piles of sh**, but nobody said changing the world would be easy. Or fun. Or particularly clean.

I do think you could use a power tool for frosting, though. That would be super cool.

And don't feel bad about the fact that your husband might be better at some nurturing things than you are. It doesn't mean that you are lacking. It just means you must have excellent taste in men!

5/01/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

Um, everything Heather said...

I certainly know you are NOT the only woman who feels this way! At least here in computer-land, there are many of us who struggle with these very things. We know raising our kids is very important, but you're right, many days a monkey could do it. It is a lot of repetitive tasks and drudgery mixed in with some isolation- yum, sounds great!

In order to maintain my sanity, I started writing, and I began a design company from home- I am able to be at home, yet still have my finger in the pie and stay in touch with the professional field I loved pre-mama. When my kids are beyond the "I'll die without you" stage, I can jump back in with whatever degree I want. It works for me, and I know MANY other moms end up doing something similar.

And as far as not relating? So there with you- I loathe Enrichment night, I hate crafty- things, scrapbooking makes me cringe and why spend all day baking bread when I can buy a really great crusty loaf down the street... I know, I know, and every once in a while I break down and get out the yeast and do it, but it's really not my cup o' tea.

Oh, and my husband? WAY more spiritual AND sensitive than me... Not sure what to say about that, but it works for us. I hate the depricating remarks about how we women are more this or more that- if always feels kind of condescending to me.

I think, very gradually, the culture even within the Church is changing. Maybe not doctrine, but the culture... You aren't the only one in this boat.

And have at the power tools- I love my Makita drill. And it's MINE. And Snap-On are the best hand tools in the world!

5/01/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Laura W said...

You can definitely find a way to frost cupcakes with a powertool! Maybe a reciprocating saw with a spatula attachement. I once adapted a feather duster to fit into a power drill to make dusting a little more palateable. If I can figure out how to post a picture of it, I will...

5/01/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tigersue said...

"I have heard more than once that if you’re bored/frustrated/unfulfilled in motherhood then you are doing something wrong."

I don't think you are doing anythin wrong than perhaps neglecting yourself and your needs. One thing I have tried to explain to many women, married or single, with children or childless, is that you have to have your own identity apart from your children. I happen to love being home with my children, I don't think I was cut out for the working field, even though I was good at what I did. I don't like homemaking either, (what did I just say that?), I don't do craftsy cutsy things, but I do scrapbook from time to time. The thing is we all have different abilities. Some have to work at it more than others. Frankly I don't think I'm that great of a mother, but that is another issue in of itself isn't it. I love the way my husband plays with our children it is different from what I do and it is good for all of us. I wouldn't look down on you at all if you made other choices, the importance is what works for everyone. Being a mother and sacrificing should not mean a sacrifice of yourself otherwise all would be lost. So you like the tools, teach your children and your girls how to use them! ;)
You are in no way strange, wierd or otherwise, you are just who you are.

5/01/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

When women (or, actually, parents) do throw all their responsibility stuff to the wind, the kids really do suffer. Badly. So know that. Parenting is so much more than simply daycare, although it's hard to see that when all you're doing is singing "wheels on the bus" for the 50th time that day.

Also, I've never heard anybody tell me that if I felt bored, unfulfilled, or incompetent that I was doing it wrong. That's just rude.

Plus, it really does get easier as they get older. You find ways to feel fulfilled, really creative ways, ways that your husband never would have come up with, things you never would have thought would appeal to you before, and it's awesome.

Every new mom goes through this. Sometimes the experienced ones do too. It can be cyclical. But truly, you will find yourself again. When you do, you might be surprised as to how much more you've become.

5/01/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger cchrissyy said...

It wouldn't exagerate much to say I hated the first 2 years. It was rough. but now that my oldest is 3, I actually like what I do.

And I don't think craftiness, or other american homemaking things are rightly combined with "motherhood" AT ALL. those culturally "feminine" arts have nothing to do with disciplining, teaching, and protecting new lives. they're decoration. Feel free to ignore them :)

And yes, let's pass on those patronizing "you're so virtuous because you're female". I don't need your paternalistic stereotyping, no thanks!

5/01/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

This post makes me think of Proverbs 31 which describes the many things that a "virtuous woman" does. According to this there are a lot of business endeavors that are fully part of a woman's responsibility; at least they were in whatever time and place Proverbs is from. There are many ways that modern SAHM-hood is often isolating and so not like this Proverbs woman's life but I think that especially with the internet we can be somewhat industrious with telecommuting or any number of kinds of WAHM businesses.

I have felt like you described, like something in my life was missing. I am busier now that I have 2 kids and am active in a homeschooling group but I'm also working on a fledgling business venture and that feels good in a different way than my normal mom duties make me feel.

5/01/2006 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

It's not nearly so binary as people seem to want to think. It's not either [stay home to mindless diapering "Pat the Bunny" drudgery] or [fail as a mother].

It's hard both being employed outside the home and being a mother, but millions of women do it every day and have normal, happy families. Sure, there are some failures, but there are some failures among the SAHM crowd, too, and nobody blames those failures on Mom staying home.

I ALWAYS worked. Much of the time I was a single parent. I did all different kinds of day care for all three of my kids, and truly, they all came out fine! There were some heartaches along the way, and some serious problems, but I find it hard to see any connection between those problems and my employment status.

You don't get the intimate, "my child will die without me" relationship with your kids when you do daycare, and you miss a lot, and so, it's a choice: what are you willing to miss? How guilty do you let others make you feel? What do you really, really want to do? What do your circumstances require?

"You can have it all" is a lie. But so is the binary "Stay home or fail."

5/01/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. What is it you most want to do? You mention feeling jealous of your husband's education. Would you like to do more school? I understand if you feel for religious reasons that you really can't work full time right now, but school, at the very least, is one thing that tends to provide a tremendous amount of flexibility. What are the main obstacles you see to going back to school or finding at least a part time job somewhere that would help you feel more balanced?

5/01/2006 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Maralise said...

I have two little boys. Sometimes I'm grateful that I don't have a little girl (and of course, these are the moments when I am not standing in the pink aisle at Gymboree). I'm scared to have a little girl knowing that she will simply "raise the next prophet" or raise the men that will change the world, and not BE somebody that will change the world (and yes, I realize these things are not always mutually exclusive).

I know, I know...a mother's influence is powerful and important, absolutely not to be replaced by any other force. I strongly agree. Mothers provide the foundation for a family, a community, a nation. Amen. I just don't look forward to seeing my daughter go through the inner struggle for identity that myself and so many others that I know have gone through in adding SAHM to their resume. I am (in a way) grateful for the path that has lead me to figuring out who I am in the face of the day to day drudge of mothering young children. But it's been so hard.

I know that not having a girl is not going to solve the quandry I find myself in, I know that we experience trials for our own growth, I know that there is a reason why God would ask women to stay home with their children if possible. My problem is that I just don't quite understand how that reason serves the woman. I know it serves the children. I know it serves the husband. I know it serves the family unit. I just don't know how it serves the woman making the choice.

I hate to leave this comment so open ended. I usually try to sum up my opinions into nice, neat little packages. But I guess I'll let the strings hang down on this one hoping for someone else to tie them and make them look pretty.

5/01/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally know what you mean. I am constantly hearing in talks that I supposedly have all these "feminine" qualities, and all it does is make feel like Im somehow a failure of a woman cause those descriptions to DO NOT describe me! I grew up constantly being called a dyke, though I have never been in anyway a Lesbian, but even the kids at church thought somehow I must be. Luckily I met an awesome guy who loved me for how I am. But, now we are in a place in our marriage where we are 'supposed' to have kids and I just keep thinking, "but I dont LIKE babies!". We are seriously considering adopting older children. But, somehow, as much as I think I will face similar challanges as you, I get the impression that raising a baby is a trial HF wants me to go through. He makes our weaknesses strengths right? So I skip Enrichment, my friends are mostly men (cause, lets face it the women like to get together and scrapbook and I'd rather be playing Halo with my husband and his friends!) and I have come to terms with that. Hopefully if I have any girls I won't screw them up to much :) Oh, and i have never baked bread. Ever. And never will. (but then, I don't actually know anyone who does! People do that??)

5/02/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Bookslinger said...

Hey, let's have some compassion for us Mr. Mom types. I'm not married, but in your story, I identified more with your husband. I'd rather be baking bread (or at least putting the ingredients into the bread machine) on Saturday morning than be at the cultural hall playing b-ball with the elders quorum.

I don't know whether it's my "feminine side" or whether I'm a cock-of-the-walk big-man-on-campus type of egotist who wants to be the only, or one of few, guys around a bunch of women.

But, yeah, I'm a little like you. I want it ALL, baby. I've gone deer hunting, I've sailed the ocean on an oil-tanker, I was in the Navy Reserve, I've jumped out of airplanes 289 times, I own guns and have done a lot of target shooting. Multi-million dollar businesses have run on the computer-programs that I wrote. I used to wear a big-man's sized Colt .45 (which alone generates more Tim Allen style "Argh-Argh-Argh!" than a garage full of power tools) in a holster under my shirt or jacket when going into dangerous parts of town to work on computers.

But I still take more satisfaction in the moment when a home-teaching companion's daughter saw me in the hallway at church while she was lined up to go into primary, pointed to me and said to the girl next to her "He's my friend."

Hon, take it from someone who's been around a lot of military veterans. Men who've flown choppers, commanded military campaigns, had people shoot at them and missed, and some even killed other people face-to-face. I volunteer and hang out at a local Vietnam veterans organization.

All their accomplisments of the past, all their worldly glory that brought them accolades and adulation, pales into insignificance as they sit and contemplate their children and grandchildren playing before them at a picnic.

I've seen these men in their late 50's and into their 60's, and some into their 70's now. And whether their glory days were over as soon as they returned from Vietnam, or whether they continued to have a glorious influence throughout a "power career" in government service or in the private sector, as they get to the age where they seriously contemplate "the meaning of it all", to a one, they give me the impression, over and over and over, "It's all about the family."

5/02/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

I'm in a ward where women are in the unique position of being in charge of everything. We end up fixing one anothers cars, plumbing, and sometimes dinners. Our husbands are deployed so often that you show up to help someone with yardwork and get shocked to see some guy standing there, only to realize it's her husband. Who showed up to hang sheetrock this weekend? Mostly women. And we know how to work our all in one power tools baby.
But what we wouldn't give to not need that. It's a wonderful feeling to know we can fix anything if we have to, but it's so much better to have someone home who can take some of that responsibility. I finally get to enjoy motherhood instead of just surviving it, and it's the greatest feeling in the world. The grass may seem greener on our side of the fence, where women work and fix things and run the world, but to most people in our situation, YOUR scenario is the one we crave. I guess it's all perspective really, and it varies from person to person. No way to know till it happens really, but what if you get what you want and it's not what you thought it would be?

5/02/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the unfortunate side effects of rigid gender stereotyping is how intensely denigrated anything traditionally "feminine" really is within the church. I love to cook, love to sew, love to scrapbook, love high heels and feminine clothing. And I'm planning on working full time outside of the home as a professional while my children are young.

Outside of the church, where gender roles are less prescribed, many "housewifish" or "feminine" things are not so dorky because they aren't so associated with lesser status. If you like sew, ok, cool. If you don't, who cares. Don't do it. If you like to work, sweet deal. If you don't work, then it must be that isn't your preference.

Ah, the power of equality to elevate respect for anything traditionally associated with women. Many poor women in the church these days feel they can't get into any overly "housewifey" feminine things without becoming dorks. And without ever cooking, making things, keeping the house nice, etc....while also not working or spending a great deal of time outside of the home, I think many women end up with not a whole lot to do with their kids during the day. I think it's really unfortunate. Our society has lost much of what was genuinely cool about "women's work", without allowing women participation in any "men's work" to make up for it.

5/02/2006 12:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I have had similar discussions over the years. Our oldest of 5 kids is 14, the youngest is almost two. We plan on one more (I'd be finished already, but...).

This past year, my wife has felt a "stirring" within her to go back to school and get her degree. After praying about it and some priesthood blessings, she'll be starting classes this fall. She'll go a class at a time, maybe two, but steady each sememster until the kids are all in school, then she'll go full time. When she graduates, she'll get a job. It's going to take a while, but I think she's more excited about the "pursuit" of this more than anything.

I've often wondered why more LDS moms didn't do more things like this once the kids are in school all day. I think we're missing a lot of contributions from special gifts.

5/02/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous April said...

To the above women... BRAVO! exactly how I feel. I just wanted to pipe up and say that my sister and her husband have worked out the "Mr. Mom" situation and it works wonderfully for them!

My sister always wanted to be a career women and quite frankly her husband didn't have much drive in that area. He loved being home with his girls. So Sis went to work in the airforce and Hubby stays home. And do those girls love having their dad home! He is loving and tender, helps them with homework, knows when to put his foot down, is active in their lives, and always knows what is going on with their friends and at school. He cleans the house and cooks dinner... and if he ever finds some spare time (which isn't aften) he sits down and plays video games. I love my brother-in-law and really look up to him. It has to be hard being a military husband when all there really are is wifes, and to have to explain (on occasion) why he stays at home and how he isn't any less o a man for it.

5/02/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Chiming in here - every woman in the world has felt rutted and unfufilled from time to time and although I don't have any kids I could identify with everything that's been said. Except for raising kids... We're designed to feel certain ways so we can know when it's time to shift gears or try a new angle.

Besides - baking bread? That's what bread machines are for and if some kind of natural disaster took out all the power in the world, those ubber-mom's would be in the same boat as the rest of us. Baking bread in a box over a fire. (I've heard the young women are able to do these kind of things, in fact they had an activity and did) Maybe they'll fill in where my generation has gapped.

Hope so... but it's kind of a circular way of thinking, our grandmothers sacrificed for their children to have the abilities to do great things in the world... and their daughters sacrificed so that THEIR children could... now we are - question - who's doing? or is the sacrifice just getting bigger and we're not really fulfilling personal potentials.

I have a brain cramp, and I feel like a guppy...

5/02/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

I’ve repeatedly been told that as a female I am inherently more nurturing, more gentle, more sensitive and more spiritual than men. Have these folks MET me?...We were like gay stereotypes trapped in heterosexual bodies.

I totally know what you mean. I am constantly hearing in talks that I supposedly have all these "feminine" qualities, and all it does is make feel like Im somehow a failure of a woman cause those descriptions to DO NOT describe me!I grew up constantly being called a dyke, though I have never been in anyway a Lesbian, but even the kids at church thought somehow I must be.

Amen, Amen, Amen!

All of my life I have heard women defined at church in terms that shut me out. (They also tend to be adjectives one might apply to a pillowcase, less properly to a human being.) What then am I supposed to do? If women ARE this, by definition, and men ARE that, by definition, and I seem to be neither, could someone please point me to the third-hour meeting for psychological hermaphrodites? I have a theory that the church's rigid gender discourse is actually leading people who might not otherwise to consider the possibility that they're gay.

I simply can't care about cooking, decorating my house, scrapbooking, crafts, and cutesy little nothings on my shelves and walls. I hate to shop. I hate to gossip. Such talk makes me want to drill holes in my head with a power tool. Nor do I care for spectator sports, mechanics, or video games. What I care about is books and the wilderness. That's pretty much it (lest anyone wonder what I contribute to my marriage, I am an obsessive-compulsive housecleaner, and I love to balance the checkbook to the PENNY).
Like whatserbucket, I'm married to a man who likes to decorate the house and who tells me what not to wear. It works for us, but it sure doesn't sound like anything I hear over the pulpit.

And can we please admit that babies are just plain ugly? All of them? They're little squished-up aliens. For years and years I thought women who cooed at each others' babies just had to be faking it because the whole thing seemed inconceivable to me (and, as it turns out, it was! I can't seem to conceive).

I do like kids as they get older and start to talk. Then they're fun, if extremely exasperating. But babies are pre-people. The point is to hurry them on to peoplehood absolutely as fast as possible. As the oldest of seven, I was so mad when my mother announced her last pregnancy. We had finally gotten the sixth out of diapers, and now we were starting all over!

Sorry, in my situation I obviously don't have much to say to the problem of stay-at-home motherhood, except that it sounds really, really hard.

5/03/2006 02:09:00 AM  
Blogger Melinda said...

I like the homemaking stuff - except not crafts and not laundry. But even when I was a lawyer, I sewed some of the skirts and jackets I wore to the office, and making bread is a great stress reliever because you get to hit the dough really hard. Making bread was my Saturday chore growing up, and I still like it. My husband doesn't - his loaf of Wonder bread sits next to my loaf of home made wheat bread.

I noticed the comment that some of the boredom and stress comes from the fact that "anyone could do my job" or even "a trained monkey could do my job." As a lawyer, I noticed that "everyone wants my job." That's its own brand of stress.

I'm expecting our first baby, and I plan to be a SAHM. I'm sure I'll go crazy occasionally like everyone here has described. But it will be nice to know that even if anyone could do my job, no one else wants to. I'm the one and only applicant for this position. There's got to be some job satisfaction in that fact.

5/03/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Beata said...

I know exactly how you feel. While I don't have children yet, my husband and I talk regularly about how we don't fit into the church stereotype (or standard, whatever you'd like to call it) of the stay-at-home mom and working husband. I have much more of a desire to work and my husband has a much higher desire to stay at home with the kids. We may end up working it out that way in the end when we have kids, but I think having steady communication with your husband is key. I know someone else mentioned their wife going back to school - maybe you could contemplate something like that?

One of my friends who is an intellectual stay-at-home mommy gets around the problem a bit by studying child development books. She got her degree in finance, and became a mom straight out of college. She's sort of getting an unofficial degree on her own, I guess, by reading all these books and understanding all the scientific theories of development of a child. She tells me that she feels a little more useful and intellectual that way, because if someone tells her she's not doing somethng right with a child, she can always throw some theory out and explain why she's doing it right (also gives her a good bit more confidence parenting).

5/03/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger a. nonny spouse said...

I type this surrounded by two baskets of laundry that have needed to be folded for roughly four days. My husband made dinner the past two nights (and my family made it the three nights before). Am I sick? Have I had surgery recently? Nope--I'm just not really much of a homemaker. I try, but it just isn't my thing. I'm always behind.

My husband and I are both going back to grad school in the fall. In the mornings, our by-then 7-month-old baby will have a stay-at-home dad. In the afternoons, he'll have a stay-at-home mom.

It's not that I don't want to raise my baby--I very much do want to. I want kids. I want a family. I also want not to feel like I'm stuck.

For me, none of this feels like it has particularly spiritual ramifications. I don't feel like Heavenly Father will condemn me for going back to school (and possibly working post graduation). Perhaps this is because my mom worked fulltime as an RN my entire life (still does)--and I'm the second of five.

Staying home is hard. Much of the time I feel isolated and semi-desperate and that I'm failing on some fundamental level. But you know what? When the clouds clear and I feel more like myself, all I can call those failure thoughts is silly. I'm a failure because I didn't fold the clothes? because the house is cluttered? because there's only one painting far on the left of the wall because I decided not to decorate until I had a clear concept of what I wanted--five months ago? No. I just don't think it's a win/lose situation. If I did all those things (and I'll eventually get around to them), it wouldn't make me feel like a success, either--it would just shorten my to-do list. And (today) I don't really care about that.

I really feel that my baby will have a better life if he has a better mother. And for me, being a better mother has little to do with homemade bread and NOTHING to do with enrichment or scrapbooking. I feel fine about that.

5/03/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

My mom just got back her final grades for her final classes in law school; she'll be graduating at the end of the month(full disclosure: my stepfather, who's a year and a half older than her, will be getting his master's degree in August.) My mom homeschooled all of us and did the full-time stay at home thing from 1992 on (I was 12 then; my youngest sister will graduate from high school a few days after Mom gets her law degree); she also did genealogy consulting, writing, piano teaching, and about a gazillion church callings (usually 3 or 4 at a time.) I think you can do the things you want when you want, enough to be happy, if you really want to. She's a lot happier knowing that she took care of us and our education, than she was leaving me at daycare while she taught school during the day -- at least, I assume she is, since that's what she's always saying. Remember that there are years and years of drudgery in every career field, and trying to convince 120 15 year olds that US history matters isn't a whole lot more glamorous than wiping baby bottoms. Plus, you don't know whether or not your efforts are going to pay off for years -- if ever.

(and our house has always been messy, though she loves cooking and quilting...)

5/03/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets face it, 99.99% of all women (and men) that go into the work force are not going to make any noticable change in the world. To think you could is arrogant. You might make yourself rich, but the world in general wont notice if you work or not.

5/04/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's arrogant to assume you're God's gift to the world, and that you would or will change it for the better in some way that others have not. But it's not arrogant to want to try.

I say, if there is something you really want to do, go out and find a way to do it. We've all had some experience of going into a thing golden eyed idealists and coming out beaten down and depressed. But those experiences are good: good for developing greater respect for jobs others do better than we previously gave them credit for. Good for adding a little realism to temper high-flying idealism.

But I don't see why that means you can't go back to school if that's what you want (or work if *that's* what you want and feel is best) just because you have a child or children. Isn't this some kind of Mormon board? Everyone and their dog goes to school with children these days at BYU. We're not talking Berkeley here, guys. We're talking BYU. The last I knew, BYU was really sort of known as being on the conservative side of LDS culture.

5/04/2006 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous JKS said...

There is nothing about SAHMhood that means you have to bake bread or display stupid crafts.
I love being a SAHM. Especially now that my kids are a little older. I've only got a few more months and then #3 is out of diapers! How old is your son? Is he still a baby?
As for power tools, that is me this week!!! I painted and put up new trim. I now plan to build some cubbies for coats & backpacks.
My mother was great! She didn't love crafts or baking. She taught me that you get to be the kind of mother you want to based on your own individual talets you bring into it.
I am aware of areas my children are maybe being shortchanged. But I am doing a dang good job in the areas that I excel in and that I enjoy. So my kids benefit from me being their mother.

5/04/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left a career that I loved (and how many people can really say they love going to work everyday?) to stay home with my son, now I've got two children under two. And you know what? Working was a whole lot easier than staying at home is.

At work, I'm respected. People say please and talk kindly and don't throw everything in their desks on the floor and expect me to clean it up. You don't have to ask a coworker twelve times to throw his cup away.

Staying at home is hard. My kids are lovely little people, but there's just a lot of not so fun work to be done. Beyond the world of breadmaking and scrapbooking, it's tough to just get dinner on the table, keep the house respectably clean, and keep both children from killing each other.

So why do I feel the need to stay at home? Lots of my friends just hire nannies to stay with the kids and go on with their lives. I honestly think that my kids will turn out better if I stay home with them. And maybe it's to help me too, help me to be more nurturing, more kind, more patient. Maybe I'll turn out to be a better person too.

PS But I do make a crazy effort to do some freelance work. I work at night when the kids are both (finally!) asleep and I drag my new baby with me to the occasional meeting. Working just a little bit helps me feel better about staying home...

5/06/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Maralise said...

"And maybe it's to help me too, help me to be more nurturing, more kind, more patient. Maybe I'll turn out to be a better person too."

Thank you for this comment. I think that very simply but truthfully answers some of my questions on how the woman is served by staying home. I had never thought about it that way. I also agree with the many others who have said that education is something to pursue, and creativity in finding "work" is also fulfilling. Thanks for your input.

5/06/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous dangermom said...

I think there are a lot of things you can do to feel better. One neat thing about being a SAHM is that it's the most self-directed job in the book; you can, to a large extent, arrange things the way you want to.

So: you're jealous of your husband's education and work. Is there a way for you to take classes toward a degree? If not now, in a year or two? Can he arrange to be home during classtime? Can you two work towards an arrangement which will eventually put you in the breadwinner role and him at home, if that works better? Or can you both work half-time eventually? (Try reading a rather idealistic book, "Just kiss me and tell me you did the laundry," for some ideas.)

Yes, the proclamation of the family says that women should endeavor to stay at home. It also says that adjustments should be made for individual needs. SAHDs are not unknown to Mormons, nor are couples that trade off child-care duties.

Also, let's not forget that the men don't exactly have it easy either. While we may envy their work, they may envy our freedom not to work. As my friend's husband said, "What if I *didn't* want to work?" I think the guys have a lot of pressure of expectations as well.

For myself, I enjoy being a SAHM. I am free to do all kinds of things! And, in just a few years, I will also have the choice to go back to work full-time without worrying about my kids. This is a chapter of my life, not the whole thing. (My mom stayed home with us. Now she has so much career that she is a bit overwhelmed and rather wishes she had more time to garden and visit grandkids.)

5/07/2006 08:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting thread.

Growing up in the church I always planned to serve a mission (in "those days" it wasn't as common for women), get a career and perhaps a family somewhere along the way.

I was never a very nurturing sort of person.

When I was 21 and started praying about a mission it was made very clear to me (NOT from a Priesthood leader, but through personal revelation) that I was not to go on a mission, but that I was to have a family. (I now know that I would never have been able to have children had I waited)

I'd already met my now husband, but he had agreed to wait for me while I served a mission. I was confused and upset for awhile. But I obeyed (I should point out that I didn't always obey - ESPECIALLY in matters like this).

Anyhow, I got married. I had a good career at the time but my pregnancy made it impossible to continue working. I was stuck in bed for what seemed like FOREVER and finally had a baby boy.

I went back to work right away and started a business when my son was a year old. I continued working until my second child (daughter) was three. I spent some time at home, but mostly it was a relief to leave the house. For me it was always easier to work than stay at home.

When my daughter was three I started really working on becoming stronger in the church. I was working at magnifying my church calling and studying my scriptures and attending the temple and on and on...

And - I started feeling guilty because I wasn't the nurturing type. I was serving in Primary at the time and we were focusing on the Proclamation on the Family. One line in particular, "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children" stuck in my mind and wouldn't let me be.

When I was praying one day I felt to ask to be more nurturing. As I said it I thought it was so strange. But as I prayed for this more and more a change started to happen in my life.

I am still not the mother or woman that I strive to be - but I'm working at it every day. I WANT to be a better daughter of Heavenly Father and my earthly parents, wife to my dear husband and mother to these beautiful children entrusted in my care.

Sheri Dew gave an incredible talk entitled "Are We Not All Mothers" (Nov 2001 Ensign) and in it she says this:

"For Satan has declared war on motherhood. He knows that those who rock the cradle can rock his earthly empire. And he knows that without righteous mothers loving and leading the next generation, the kingdom of God will fail."

I now actually find joy in the PROCESS that is motherhood!

:O)

5/16/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

Well I came across this page and I just thought it was wonderful. I am a mother of three little children. Garrison 3, Ethan 17 months, and Leigha 4 months.

I have these feelings all the time. It is very overwhelming. On top of that I work part time at a very busy retail store.

Anyhow, I wanted to post something I got in an email recently. I thought it suited this post quite well!


The Girl in a Whirl
by ‘Dr. Sue’
(a.k.a. Vickie Gunther)
Look at me, look at me, look at me now!
You could do what I do
If you only knew how.

I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake,
I upholster,
I scrub,
and I pray.

I always keep all the commandments completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.

I help in their classrooms!
I sew all they wear!
I drive them to practice!
I cut all their hair!

I memorize names of the General Authorities;
I focus on things to be done by priorities.

I play the piano!
I bless with my talents!
My toilets all sparkle!
My checkbooks all balance!
Each week every child gets a one-on-one date;
I attend all my meetings (on time! Never late!)

I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all …
I track my bad habits ‘til each is abolished;
Our t-shirts are ironed!
My toenails are polished!
Our family home evenings are always delightful;
The lessons I give are both fun and insightful.

I do genealogy faithfully, too.
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!

I rise each day early, refreshed and awake;
I know all the names of each youth in my stake!

I read to my children!
I help all my neighbors!
I bless the community, too, with my labors.

I exercise and I cook menus gourmet;
My visiting teaching is done the first day!

(I also go do it for someone who missed hers.
It’s the least I can do for my cherished ward sisters.)

I chart resolutions and check off each goal;
I seek each “lost lamb” on my Primary roll.

I can home-grown produce each summer and fall.
But that is not all! Oh, no. That is not all …

I write in my journal!
I sing in the choir!
Each day, I write “thank you’s” to those I admire.
My sons were all Eagles when they were fourteen!
My kids get straight A's!
And their bedrooms are clean!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.

I go to the temple at least once a week;
I change the car’s tires!
I fix the sink’s leak!

I grind my own wheat and I bake all our bread;
I have all our meals planned out six months ahead.

I make sure I rotate our two-years’ supply;
My shopping for Christmas is done by July!
These things are not hard;
It’s good if you do them;
You can if you try!
Just set goals and pursue them!
It’s easy to do all the things that I do!
If you plan and work smart, you can do them all, too!

It’s easy!” she said …

… and then she dropped dead

5/19/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger Fake said...

I wanted you to know that I think you all are filthy sniveling snatches who just need to stfu and quit whining.

While you are at home griping and complaining, your husbands are doing real work, and are providing the financial security for the family.

So here is what you do.... Suck it up, and when your husband gets home, have a nice warm home cooked meal from him. Since most of you are to lazy to cook, pick something up from a restaurant. Keep your mouth shut the entire meal, because I can assure you he doesn't want to hear you gripe and complain about what a horrible day you had.... inside of the house. Just stfu and let him eat. Then bring over dessert, sex him up, and put him to bed.

This is the least you can do to show your appreciation for him.

6/05/2010 06:25:00 PM  

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