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?