Monday, May 23, 2011

Keep on Bloggin...

I was preparing for my VT'ing lesson tomorrow, re-reading Elder Quentin L. Cook's talk called, "LDS Women are Incredible"--because really, EVERY woman I know needs to hear that--at least once a year, by someone important like Elder Cook.  Isn't it funny that when you hear someone give a talk to the men--they are usually like, "Hey--you're not that great--you need to be doing better, get your act together--oh and my favorite, BE NICE TO YOUR WIFE!"  But when they talk to the women, they are like, "Hey--you are AMAZING, and don't get down on yourself, and keep your chin up."  Even though we all know that there are women (like me) who need to change a lot of things in their lives to make them, well, celestial and perfect in every way, they also know that the way to get women to change is NOT to guilt them into doing it--it is to encourage them very gently, so there is no weeping or wailing, or other unfortunate reactions to the prodding, and so we don't just give up altogether!   If there's anything universal about women--it's that we ALL feel guilt, all by ourselves.  We don't need the brethren to help with the guilt--we just need them to tell us how wonderful we are, and encourage us to "keep on swimming" so to speak.  I love that we just have it in our nature to feel worry and guilt.  Ask your husband sometime if he feels guilty because he didn't spend enough time with a particular child today, or read a book to another, or if he feels guilty when a child cries in the night, and he doesn't feel like getting out of his comfy bed to get them (even if he hears them wailing--so many nights I have tried just laying there, to see if he will get up without me begging him--no way!).  Trust me, he will say NO.  It's not his fault--he didn't come wired that way.  For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with my husband--like he didn't CARE as much as I did for the welfare of our children, or about being a parent.  What I realized, and what the Family Proclamation has confirmed to me is that men and women ARE different.  We have feelings of guilt and worry that  men don't have because it is us, as women that have the responsibility to nurture our children.  It is in our nature as women.  Our husbands don't have these guilt feelings, because they have to be able to spend long hours away from home, at work or school, and frankly, they don't have the time to be worried or feeling guilty all the time about being away, and doing their part by providing and working!  I'm not saying they NEVER feel guilty--but I do wonder how much of the guilt he does feel is because of MY anxiety, and my nagging, and the way I try to make him feel guilty because I do.  Not nice, I know!

Anyway, when I was reading through the last part of the talk, I noticed that there was a link in the footnotes to an article in Salon.com called, "Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs".   The author, Emily Matchar, admits that although she is a feminist, and an atheist, she finds herself frequently reading blogs by Mormon housewives, and has several other friends, who are just like her, that can't get enough of them.  This part was so interesting to me: 

"So why, exactly, are these blogs so fascinating to women like us -- secular, childless women who may have never so much as baked a cupcake, let alone reupholstered our own ottomans with thrifted fabric and vintage grosgrain ribbon? It's not as though we're sniffing around the dark side of the faith, à la "Big Love." And it's not about religion. As someone married to a former Saint (my husband left the church as a teenager), I certainly have no illusions about what life as a Mormon would be like, and I'm sure it's not for me, which makes my obsession with these blogs all the more startling.
Well, to use a word that makes me cringe, these blogs are weirdly "uplifting." To read Mormon lifestyle blogs is to peer into a strange and fascinating world where the most fraught issues of modern living -- marriage and child rearing -- appear completely unproblematic. This seems practically subversive to someone like me, weaned on an endless media parade of fretful stories about "work-life balance" and soaring divorce rates and the perils of marrying too young/too old/too whatever. And don't even get me started on the Mommy Blogs, which make parenthood seem like a vale of judgment and anxiety, full of words like "guilt" and "chaos" and "BPA-free" and "episiotomy." Read enough of these, and you'll be ready to remove your own ovaries with a butter knife.
"It seems that a lot of popular culture wants to portray marriage and motherhood as demeaning, restrictive or simple, but in the LDS church, motherhood is a very important job, and it's treated with a lot of respect," says Natalie Holbrook, the New York-based author of the popular blog Nat the Fat Rat. "Most of my readers are non-LDS women in their late 20s and early 30s, college educated, many earning secondary degrees on the postgraduate level, and a comment I often get is, 'You are making me want kids, and I've never wanted kids!'"

You can click on the title of the article to read the whole thing--but as I read this author's thoughts, especially the thoughts on marriage and motherhood being something that is portrayed as a negative in the world today, I realized how much work we women have in front of us!  On the bright side, I also realized what a blessing this blogging medium is, and how people can come to realize that Mormons--and Mormon Mommy Blogs are written by normal, everyday people, who have normal, everyday experiences, but because we have the Gospel, we look at things in the world, especially family and children, with hopefully a different perspective, and that perspective shines through.  I also wondered, as she talks about how she is childless, and has a career, and wants nothing to do with the church, if part of this woman enjoys reading these types of blogs because of a yearning inside that tells her that she was meant to be a wife and a mother, it is in her nature as a daughter of God.  And even though she feels uncomfortable, and it seems to go against everything she has been taught, looking in on the life of a Mormon housewife feels oddly familiar.  I feel like she, like all of us, lived with our Father in Heaven before we came here, and each of us has times when we have a stirring within us of something we once knew, or something we need to be doing.  Most of all, I feel like this article shows us that even in a simple way, such as writing a blog of our experiences, we can share the gospel with even the most unlikely of persons, and we can let the world know that we are Mormon, and we are proud to belong to a church that values, and respects the role of wife and mother.  The world needs more of that for sure!

P.S.  I also found a link in the article to a wonderful website called the "Mormon Women Project" (click on it to go there...) where women from all walks of life, and all around the world are interviewed about their conversion, their blogs, their motherhood, etc.  Then I proceeded to spend WAY too much time there surfing around.  Isn't it fascinating to read about how we are all so different--but how the Gospel can bring us together?  It is amazing to me!

PPS...LAST week of school--HOORAY!  :)  Friday, I will be sleeping until at least 10 a.m..  Call me lazy if you want... but summer is for catching up on sleep at my house!

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